Knowledgeable in protocol and etiquette, Fadi LeSidon is a sommelier, hospitality management consultant and faculty member of Sagesse University. Here, he provides a quick guide to dining etiquette.
Etiquette versus protocol
Etiquette is all about knowing how to act during breakfast, lunch or dinner at a formal or informal gathering. It is important to define the relationship between silverware, tableware and glassware, how to use each and what kind of cutlery to place on the table according to the menu. The right dining behavior throughout the meal is paramount. With this in mind, it is imperative to dedicate one’s attention to guests rather than the food. Essentially, going out is all about sharing moments.
Etiquette is all about kindness, good manners, tactfulness and courtesy. Protocol is an official procedure or system of rules governing affairs of state or diplomatic occasions.
There is a certain degree of flexibility when it comes to etiquette, but protocol is more rigid. During official diplomatic and military functions, protocols are common. Each country and organization has its own set of rules that cannot be changed.
When inviting people to a restaurant or any kind of F&B outlet, even if the place is never crowded, a reservation is a must to ensure that things run smoothly. This avoids any bad surprises and misunderstandings. Furthermore, it is essential to mention any special preferences, dietary requirements or allergies ahead of time so that the restaurant is aware and can accommodate specific needs. In addition, the host needs to make sure the reservation suits their needs in terms of location and food preferences.
Restaurant versus functions at home
If you’re invited to a function at a restaurant or bar, you should arrive on time or 10 minutes late. For a lunch or dinner invitation, in the event you are 15 minutes early, you can take a seat in the lounge. It is not recommended to sit at the table and wait for the host and the guests to arrive.
Water is the thing that can be ordered if you arrive early because it is considered disrespectful even if request anything else, even if you are willing to pay for it yourself.
If invited to the host’s house, it is recommended to be five to 15 minutes late.
First impressions are very important, so dress accordingly. One’s attire needs to be in harmony with the occasion and ambiance.
Even during laid-back events, such as picnics, you should choose a sport-chic outfit.