November 5, 2011


Expert advises on the art of etiquette

TC3 students in wine marketing, hospitality degree program learn
the ropes at dinner

Etiquette Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Tompkins Cortland Community College students, from left in foreground, Summer Riker, Karli Olsen, Meghan Carl and Kasey Gray eat and listen Thursday as Meisje Havens, gives pointers during an etiquette class at the Dryden college.

Staff Reporter

DRYDEN — Butter and eat a roll one bite-size chunk at a time, and cut chicken with the fork down and the knife against the tines.
Those and many more tips were offered Thursday evening at the Student Center at Tompkins Cortland Community College, as TC3 first-year students in the wine marketing, restaurant and hospitality degree programs learned how to survive a four-course business dinner without making a bad impression on a potential client or customer.
The dinner was for 40 people, a few of them TC3 staff, dressed formally and served by wait staff who were second-year students.
The meal turned into a series of lessons for students hoping to work in the restaurant or hotel industries, some of whom already hold jobs in area restaurants but want to know more.
Syracuse-based etiquette expert Meisje Havens reviewed how and when to talk business while eating a roll, soup, salad, chicken with pasta, and chocolate cake.
Havens reviewed the different forks, spoons and knives, where to place them on a plate, and how to eat so food does not stain clothing. She quizzed the students about how they would choose which food to eat if they might not like it, how to hold fork and knife for various foods, how to eat a creamy soup without spilling it, and how to unfold a napkin below table level.
“The rules we will learn date to Emily Post, and the good news about dining rules is, they don’t change,” Havens told the crowd, adding that some international rules differ from American rules.
Havens owns Refined Protocol, offering etiquette workshops for businesses and college students. She gave the students an etiquette review session before the meal, discussing topics such as eye contact and a firm handshake.
Sue Stafford, the degree program director, said students need to know dining etiquette as well as possible since clients might judge their ability to host a wedding or other event, based on how they present themselves.
The students varied in their career ambitions.
Richard Williams of Cuyler, a Cortland High School graduate, said he spent three semesters studying game and casino management at SUNY Morrisville and planned to add the hospitality courses to his knowledge.
He plans to finish his SUNY Morrisville associate degree while adding an associate degree from TC3.
Chris Dellow of Homer said he studied culinary arts at SUNY Cobleskill and transferred to TC3 before finishing that degree, to blend that course work with courses in wine marketing and hospitality. He works at Friendly’s restaurant on Route 281 in Cortlandville and wants to expand his knowledge of the food and restaurant industries.
Dellow served as host at a table with Ithaca resident Justin Peebles, who hopes to study at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, and Jenna Lenhardt, a TC3 global initiatives staff member.
The host for each table guided the other diners in when to pass food or start each course, after Havens established that each diner’s bread — or roll in this case — was on the left and glasses for water and wine — sparkling grape juice in this case — on the right.
To the left was a bread plate with a knife, though not a bread knife, and butter. On the left side of the main place setting were two forks, a shorter one for salad and a dinner fork. On the right were a dinner knife and spoon.
On top were a fork and spoon, for dessert.
A soup spoon came with the soup. The dinner knife was replaced after the diner used it to cut salad.
Havens said to eat the roll not as the diners might do it at home, cutting it and ladling butter into the middle, but in bite-size chunks with butter on them.
She said to cut salad so lettuce and cucumber slices are in small pieces, and to place the knife on the plate before transferring the fork to the right hand to take a bite of food.
Diners should sneeze away from the table, into their elbow or napkin. If something was stuck in their teeth, they should go to the bathroom to remove it. If they were not sure they would like a dish, they should still taste it to be polite, and should let the host guide them in ordering, if he or she was familiar with the restaurant or club.
Havens said business talk usually waits until after the meal, when dessert is followed by coffee.
“Some clubs do not allow business talk during the meal,” she said. “The exception: if you are eating in a private room.”
The wine marketing degree program is 18 months old. TC3 created it to help students continue on to Cornell’s wine production and grape growing programs, and to find jobs in the Finger Lakes wine industry.
Stafford said the program was added to the restaurant and hospitality program.


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