1. Cuisine

Guide to Dining Etiquette: 10 Easy Rules

We believe we should always eat in ways that we are most comfortable with but there are some situations that you simply have to have proper dining etiquette. Situations such as meeting your clients or dining with snobs. Like Picasso who demonstrated he knew how to paint classic paintings before going into cubism, you must show you know what you’re doing first before eating in your own style. Beat the snobs at their game; be better than them.

Here are the 10 easy tips:

1. Cutlery: Use your cutlery from outside to inside. Each course requires only one set of cutlery. Knife in your right hand; fork in your left. Do NOT hold it like a pen or hold it with an underhand when cutting food. The index finger should be fully extended supporting the spine of the fork/knife.

correct grip

2. How to drink soup: Scoop from inside to out. For the last spoonfuls, tilt the bowl slightly. Do not slurp.

3. How to eat: Cut the food into tiny size so that if you need to talk, you can swallow quickly or push the food to the side of your mouth to have a conversation. Close your mouth when you chew. No sounds please.

4. How to eat main courses: Once you’ve lifted your cutlery, they should NEVER touch the table again. Either cut a piece and eat it and gradually work your way through the meat OR cut everything into bite-size, rest your knife on the edge of your plate, transfer the fork to your right hand and use your fork. The blade of the knife should be facing in the plate.

5. How to drink: Put both your utensils on your plate before you reach for water or wine. NEVER hold a utensil in one hand, and raise a glass in another. Do NOT stir iced drinks.

6. How to signal you finish eating: Rest the fork and knife at 4 o’clock position on the plate OR 4 and 8 o’clock. The fork should be facing downwards.

7. Elbows: off the table at all times.

8. Manners: Do NOT sit down before the host does. Wait for everyone to have their food first before eating. Ideally, you should wait for the host to start eating first. Say please and thank you to server. If a person asks for salt, pass both salt and pepper so that people don’t have to search for them. Mobile phones should be silent. Do not use it.

9. Napkin: Place it on the right side of the plate if you’re going to the washroom. Left side when the meal is over. Do NOT fold; you’re not the waiter. Just place it neatly.

10. Using hands: There are very few cases when using hands is acceptable at fine-dining: bread, oysters, small sandwiches, and sushi. If there is a bone in the mouth, push the bone to the side of your mouth using your tongue and then use a fork to extract the bone. If you can’t handle bones (like fish or chicken dishes), then don’t order them.

These rules are bothersome and stupid and sound difficult. But if you do it often enough, it actually comes naturally.

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Categories: 1. Cuisine

5 replies »

  1. I have to disagree with #7. The elbows-off-the-table-at-all-times rule is outdated in all but the most formal of situations. While you should definitely keep them off the table while eating, it is perfectly acceptable to rest your elbows on the table before, after or between courses when there is no food on the table.


    • Man, dining etiquette is old fashioned and is for formal settings. It’s about manners, not up for debate. You can easily say the no-using of handphone rule is outdated too. If you have power enough or at a kopotiam, you can eat with your mouth open and make as much chewing noise as you want and nobody will tell you it’s bad manners.


  2. NEVER cut up all of your food into bite size pieces – are you a toddler? Cut a piece, put your knife down, put it in your mouth, chew and swallow. Repeat.

    And absolutely no elbows. Ever.

    Bread plate on the left. Always tear your bread.

    Water on the right.


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