Caroline Koch // Scene Editor
You sit down to your place setting at a world-class restaurant
and feel the red-hot trepidation start to spread across your face: I have no idea what the proper protocol for this meal is, and soon the authority you’re sitting across from is going to know you’re less of a professional and more of a poser. And worse yet, a poser with no manners.
Ever wonder just what you’re supposed to do with your utensils
when you’ve finished eating at a or fancy fundraiser, or where to put your napkin if you need to leave the table mid-meal?
The Living Leadership Program in conjunction with Career Services
offered a personal development workshop last week that featured practice in networking and dinner etiquette to answer to these questions.
Set in one of the lovely, state-of-the-art culinary classrooms in the hospitality building, students filed into the amphitheater-style lecture halls in business casual, nametags on the right, ready to press some flesh.
Before that though, attendees were able to get their photo taken by a photography department volunteer. This picture was not meant to be proof of attendance, but aimed to provide students with a professional headshot for their LinkedIn profile. Assistant manager for Career Services, Sara Kirby briefly lectured on the importance presenting oneself in all capacities in a professional way, which means online as well.
Before the hospitality students came to serve up the culinary department’s passed appetizers, Kirby stressed the importance of the “elevator speech;” a quick rundown of your major accomplishments phrased in a quasi-curious way to make the listener want to hear more. Students got to practice their speeches on-the-fly with each other, mirroring the real-world scenario one might find themselves in having to essentially pitch themselves.
Dinner began with an introduction to the aforementioned place setting complete with an excessive amount of silverware. The lovely women of the Chicago School of Etiquette eased students through some crucial rules to dinner manners, like ripping off a small piece of bread and buttering it, as to avoid a “butter mustache.”
The dinner crowd also learned the difference between tradition ‘continental’ style eating, where one takes food off the back of the fork and keeps a knife in hand for cutting at all times, and the American style zig-zag approach. A bit clunky, the American approach calls diners to cut a piece of meat or veggie, rest the knife atop the plate, return the fork into the dominant hand, eat the individual piece of food and repeat. Quite a bit of cutlery choreography.
Amidst tips and tricks from Miss Manners, students conversed and continued to practice networking during the four course meal. One of the highlights was the special attention to dining with different culture backgrounds; always know who you’re dining with and take the time to see if there are any boundaries or special customs to be aware of.
The value of the session was great indeed, as students experienced a taste of what many will be doing regularly down the road. How to act in a professional social setting is often an overlooked part of the assimilation into the occupational world. Plus, it never hurts to get a refresher in minding your Ps & Qs.