Dining etiquette with protocol expert Fadi LeSidon

Dining etiquette with protocol expert Fadi LeSidon

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.

Dress code

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.

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About author

Rita Ghantous

Rita Ghantous is a hospitality aficionado and a passionate writer with over 9 years’ experience in journalism and 5 years experience in the hospitality sector. Her passion for the performance arts and writing, started early. At 10 years old she was praised for her solo performance of the Beatles song “All My Love” accompanied by a guitarist, and was approached by a French talent scout during her school play. However, her love for writing was stronger. Fresh out of school, she became a freelance journalist for Noun Magazine and was awarded the Silver Award Cup for Outstanding Poetry, by The International Library of Poetry (Washington DC). She studied Business Management and earned a Masters degree from Saint Joseph University (USJ), her thesis was published in the Proche-Orient, Études en Management book. She then pursued a career in the hospitality industry but didn’t give up writing, that is why she launched the Four Points by Sheraton Le Verdun Newsletter. Her love for the industry and journalism led her to Hospitality Services - the organizers of the HORECA trade show in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as Salon Du Chocolat, Beirut Cooking Festival, Whisky Live and other regional shows. She is currently the Publications Executive of Hospitality News Middle East, Taste & Flavors and Lebanon Traveler. It is with ultimate devotion for her magazines that she demonstrates her hospitality savoir-faire.

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