Episode 13 – Etiquette Tips for your next fancy meal, date or dinner with the boss

ThirtyFiveSixtyFour
ThirtyFiveSixtyFour
12 Etiquette Tips for your next fancy meal, date or dinner with the boss
Loading
/

Show Notes:

Polish your dining etiquette for any occasion with these essential tips! These insights aren’t just about following rules; they’re about exuding confidence in any dining scenario, whether it’s a casual meal with friends, a first date, or a formal business dinner.

Do you freeze when you encounter a piece of gristle or bone in your meal? Wondering why stashing your phone out of sight can significantly enhance your dining experience? Join me as I delve into mastering key dining etiquette to elevate your confidence whether you’re on a date or dining with your boss.

Learn the art of discreetly handling inedible items and understand why making eye contact during a toast goes beyond mere politeness—it’s a way to forge genuine connections. From understanding wine ordering nuances, like leaving a sip for your server, to knowing when to rest your elbows on the table, I’ve got you covered. Plus, discover the subtle differences between American and European fork styles to effortlessly navigate any dining setting.

In this episode:

  • Keep your phone silenced and off the table to give your full attention to your companions.
  • Demystify wine ordering with tips on sniffing, corked wine, and leaving a sip as a tip.
  • Elbows on the table: when it’s acceptable and when it’s not.
  • Master the art of cutting your food one bite at a time.
  • Fork etiquette: fork-down or fork-up?
  • Navigate napkin usage, from waiting for the host to black napkin hints.
  • Leave plate clearing to the professionals; don’t play Jenga with your dinnerware.
  • Passing salt, pepper, and dishes with finesse.
  • Quick tips for handling unexpected encounters like gristle or bone.
  • Delve into the history and modern etiquette of toasts and cheers.
  • Send me your comments and feedback on the show!

ThirtyFiveSixtyFour is a podcast for listeners between the ages of 35 and 64. Available on all major podcast platforms, the show offers an engaging journey through the various challenges and experiences of midlife. ThirtyFiveSixtyFour presents a distinct departure from the traditional midlife crisis storyline. Instead, it champions the perspective that midlife should be viewed as a period marked by play, discovery, transformation and possibility. With new episodes released weekly, ThirtyFiveSixtyFour is positioned to become one of the fastest-growing podcasts of the year, providing both valuable insights and entertainment for those in the middle. 

So, subscribe and get ready to join show host Karen and the ThirtyFiveSixtyFour regulars for both serious and fun conversations around living middle age to the fullest. After all, it’s not too late. You’re not too old. And you’re definitely NOT dead. 

Resources: 

5 Things Nobody Tells You About Ordering Wine in a Restaurant
7 Expert Tips for Ordering Wine at a Restaurant
Napkin Etiquette 101
How You Place Your Cutlery And What It Says
thirtyfivesixtyfour.com

Show Transcript:

[00:00:00] Karen Stones: Okay, this brings me to another really cool tip, and I love watching this. At dinner parties or at the restaurants, you do not want to stack plates. That’s right. When you are done with your meal and you know the server is going to come over, you don’t want to stack all those plates. There’s a lot of reasons for that, but typically you’re going to wait for the server or probably whoever is cleaning up at your hostess or host party to pick those one up at a time. They can stack after they pull them off the table, but you don’t want to actively do that for them. It’s considered, I’m not sure, low brow, is that what you would put it? So this is something that I see all the time, and I think it really is going to depend on what kind of restaurant you’re at. But the etiquette says, don’t stack the plates, the cups, the utensils.

Welcome to another episode of 3564, a podcast for the middle. I have a really fun subject for you today to chat about, but before I do that, I want to take a quick moment and thank each and every one of you for going along on this journey with us. I can’t believe we’ve made it this far and how fast we are growing. So all of you on YouTube, everyone on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, on our website, we see you, we thank you, and most importantly, we love hearing from you. So if you have an idea, if you have a comment, if you want to be on the podcast, make sure to reach out and let us know. We have every single social channel possible, and you can always reach us at 3564.com. Okay, so today I have a really fun topic, and most people don’t think etiquette is a fun topic. And I’m going to tell you that it is because it is not something to judge people on. I think it’s just something fun to observe. And as I started going to business dinners and having the opportunity to dine with and at some very nice places, I quickly found out that my etiquette was lacking. Case in point, this gal that I worked with in Europe, her name was Jennifer. And I remember after dining with her one evening in London, she looked at me, smiled, and said, you eat like a beast. And I’ll never forget that. I know. She told me in a loving manner. I laughed and I said, okay, teach me everything you know. And she did. So today’s episode, I’m going to drop a couple of hints for you that I learned that have really given me some confidence to dine properly and in a way that I feel really good about conducting myself, whether it’s a fine dining restaurant, a date, meeting someone important, or, you know, colleagues that expect a lot from you. So I’m going to dive into twelve tips that can give you the confidence to navigate any dining situation. Okay, so let’s jump in. The first tip I want to chat with you about is what in the world are you supposed to do with your cell phone? So etiquette would say you should keep your cell phone on silent and believe it or not, you should not have it on the table. I challenge you to actually look around next time you’re dining out. Almost every single table is going to have a cell phone on it. And you’ll even find people who are dining together both looking down at their phones instead of enjoying each other’s company. There’s nothing worse than going to a dinner and having somebody get up constantly to pick up the phone text. It’s just really quite annoying. So here’s what you want to do. Keep that phone in your pocket, put it on silent, leave it in your purse, and take a few minutes to engage with the people you are dining with. If you really must, feel free to get up and excuse yourself and go somewhere, like a lobby or a waiting space, or even outdoors if you need to pick up the phone. I was recently dining in a pretty nice restaurant with some friends, and a woman was on FaceTime. She was walking around showing everyone her grandchildren, and it was sort of funny, but really it was quite disruptive. I could hear Johnny over in Orlando saying hi to his grandma, and there’s probably a better time and place to do that. So tip number one, put your phone away and put it on silent. Tip number two, wine. Let’s talk about ordering wine. One of the things that I have seen so many of friends of mine and colleagues, contacts, they do not feel comfortable and confident ordering wine. Why? Well, they don’t know what to order. They don’t know what to do when the server comes and hands them the sip. So let me tell you a couple things that might be helpful. First off, if you don’t know what to order, ask the waiter or sommelier. They normally will have a good idea of price ranges and what you will like based on your tastes. One of the best tips that a sommelier gave me once was, hey, if you don’t know what to order, if you don’t recognize any of the names, order something from Napa, order something from Bordeaux. You’ll know that you have high quality when it’s coming from a legendary winery area. So you can’t go wrong with ordering one of those. Okay, so the waiter is going to hand you a bottle, and first he’s prop. He or she will turn it around, and they normally are going to show you a label. That’s just to confirm, hey, Joe, I’m about to open this bottle of wine for you. Can. Can you confirm that this is what you actually want to drink? And once you confirm that that wine is what you want to drink, they’ll typically pour just a sip. So what are you supposed to do with that? Here’s what you do. The first thing you want to do is smell it. Put your face into the glass and actually smell the wine. The purpose of this is to tell if the wine is bad. There’s something called corked wine, and that means that the wine hit a temperature or some sort of state, maybe oxygen got in, and it tastes like vinegar. It tastes terrible. So you’re smelling that wine first to make sure that it’s not corked. And one of the things that you can also do is take in the smell. A lot of people who love wine love to smell wine, but the purpose of that quick scent is, hey, is this corked or not? The next thing you want to do is taste it. That also is going to help you determine if the wine is corked. Okay, so now that you’ve said, yes, I like this bottle of wine, the server is likely to start filling cups of wine that are on the table. A really cool tip that somebody told me that I try to do when I remember is if you are ordering a really special bottle, you know, something that someone might say, wow, I want the opportunity to try that. One of the things that you can do is actually leave a sip of wine in the bottle for your server or sommelier. That way they get to experience the wine, too. It’s a really cool way to tip somebody that is not monetary oriented. So I hope you feel a little bit more confident dining and ordering that wine next time you need to tip. Number three. Let’s talk about elbows. I’m actually really surprised to tell you this, but etiquette experts will tell you that you actually can put elbows on the table. That’s right, you can. But you can only do that between courses or when there is no plate in front of you. So that kind of makes me feel good. I do put my elbows on the tables, and now we know that sometimes that gives the thumbs up. Next one. I love this one. And it is. Do not cut all of your food right when it’s served to you. If you get a nice big steak on your plate, you do not need to cut it in little, tiny bite sized pieces. You’re only going to do that if you’re feeding a child. So no need to get your whole plate prepped in tiny bite sized pieces before you dive in. Unless you’re a toddler, you definitely do not need to do that. This is a really good tip. And I personally get asked this a lot going back to my experience with Jennifer in Europe. One of the things that she thought was so strange was the way that I was eating. So I was eating in a traditional american style, and my fork was not face down. So if you know what I mean, there’s a fork up that an American would normally bring food to their mouth, and then there’s a fork down, which is sort of called a classical way of eating. Definitely european, also known as the hidden handle method. And that’s where you would bring food up with the back of the fork. Now, someone said, what is the reason? What in the world is the reason why you do this? Is it so you eat smaller bites? Is it so you look fancy pants? Why do you do this? Well, it really doesn’t require changing hands with every bite. So think of it. All of you Americans out there that eat with, you know, a fork face up when you are cutting, you then have to put the fork down and then eat with the other hand. This allows you to actually move through the whole meal a little bit more elegantly than you might expect. I will warn you that this does take practice, and you do end up having food, you know, in front of you on the table, on your shirt. But you do get used to eating like this pretty quickly. I actually even find myself eating like this when I’m by myself. That is so ingrained in how I eat now. So if you want to look really polished, and in particular, if you want to eat in a classical european style, you’re going to want to learn this fork down method. If you watch any kind of baking cooking show, every single chef is going to eat like this. If you’re at a fine dining restaurant, I’m going to say at least half of the patrons inside are going to be eating like this. Give it a try. Let me know what you think. I absolutely love it, and I’ve converted totally over to this way of eating. An interesting story, actually, behind this is there’s a famous story. The difference in fork usage between Americans and Europeans is the basis of solving one of Sherlock Holmes mysteries. That’s right. I thought that was a really cool tip that. That I learned in some research before the show.

[00:13:50] Karen Stones: Okay, so let’s talk about napkins.

Who knew that napkins have so many rules associated with them? Okay, so first off, when you sit down at the table, one of the first things you should do is actually place the napkin in your lap. The only exception to that would be if you’re at some sort of home or dinner party where a hostess or host has not yet joined and you’re waiting for them. Once the host puts that napkin in their lap, that normally signifies the meal has started. If you’re at a restaurant, the first thing you’re going to want to do is actually put that napkin down in your lap. Now, this is a really cool tip that I never knew, and somebody told me just, I want to say, like, five years ago, a lot of fine dining restaurants have this secret that I want to tell you about, and that is sometimes you can actually get a black napkin on request. Now, you would probably want to do that if you’re wearing something dark and you don’t want those cotton white fibers to leave a lint mess on your dress or nice suit. So in some of the restaurants, they will actually proactively bring that to you if they notice that you’re in some sort of dark clothing. But a lot of them require it for you to ask. So see if you can find a restaurant that has a black napkin for you. It is very, very fine dining oriented. But I’m pretty confident that if you ask for one in a really nice place, you’re likely to get one. Here is another strange thing that Jennifer told me about napkins. You don’t wipe, you dab. Now, I don’t know about you, but I do sometimes make a mess when I eat, and I do try to dab, and that would be, you know, the gentle touches over your lips. But sometimes I do just wipe. So, hey, this is one of those ones that I can’t always follow. But if you’re at something that’s very, very prim and proper, go ahead and use that napkin in dab. Another big napkin issue here is, what in the world do you do with the napkin when you get up? Hey, maybe you need to go outside and answer that phone call. Maybe you need to go to the bathroom. What should you do with a napkin? Well, there’s a lot of debate about this in the etiquette world, if there is such a thing, and there is, some folks say put it on the table on the left side of your plate. Others leave it on the chair. I think you could probably use both. But here’s one thing you shouldn’t do with your napkin, is put it directly on the plate. I see a lot of people doing that after their meal concludes, and that’s not something you want to do. So leave that napkin, when in doubt, on the left side. Okay, this brings me to another really cool tip, and I love watching this. At dinner parties or at the restaurants, you do not want to stack plates. That’s right. When you are done with your meal and you know the server is going to come over, you don’t want to stack all those plates. There’s a lot of reasons for that, but typically you’re going to wait for the server or probably whoever is cleaning up at your hostess or host party to pick those one up at a time. They can stack after they pull them off the table, but you don’t want to actively do that for them. It’s considered, I’m not sure. Low brow, is that what you would put it? So this is something that I see all the time, and I think it really is gonna depend on what kind of restaurant you’re at. But the etiquette says, don’t stack the plates, the cups, the utensils. Here’s another fun tip for you. Did you know that when you pass the salt, you actually should pass the salt and the pepper? They are a pair. They are the inseparable couple that should never be divided. So if Joe says, hey, Karen, pass me the salt, I’m actually going to pick up the salt in and pepper. They are a pair and they should never be separated. Here is another interesting tip, is when someone requests something and you need to pass it to them, you would never pass hand to hand. So if my daughter next to me, Abby says, can you pass me the Mac and cheese? I actually should place it directly in front of her. I should not pass hand to hand. That’s an interesting one to get used to. And once again, I find that this is for real formal situations. But once it’s a habit, you kind of get used to it. So you should place items in front of somebody and not hand them. This is gonna be hard, especially for those of you who are listening instead of watching. But there is all sorts of ways that you can communicate with your servers at a restaurant by your utensil placement. Now, some of you know this and some of you don’t. But I didn’t even know this. I looked it up before this episode just to make sure that I was accurate. And there are all sorts of placements. There’s I’m ready for my next plate. Food was excellent. I didn’t like it. There’s actually utensil placement to say you didn’t like it. This is the famous one. I am finished. So when you place your utensils in the right fashion, a server doesn’t need to ask you if you’re finished. They simply know you are. Visually, it’s hard for me to explain this to you, but in the show notes, I’m going to link to some images that you can take a peek at. The most important image that you probably want to remember that I can describe for you here. Audio is the fork and knife straight up at 12:00 on your plate. When you are done, that’s going to signify that you are done with eating. There’s also something about I’m pausing and coming back to my plate. That one’s a little bit harder to explain. So check out the show notes. I’m going to link to some cool images. And now you’ll know how to use all of your utensils to chat with your waiter without even saying anything. Another tip. This one is good. What should you do? If you’re eating dinner and you are chewing down and you have a huge bone from chicken, fish, whatever it is that you’re eating, how are you supposed to get it back out in a way that would be acceptable? So you are actually supposed to use the same utensil that you put it in with. So if something is in your soup, you would actually put the item back in the spoon and then put that on the side of your plate. If something like gristle and maybe you’re eating some sort of red meat or steak, for instance, you would also take that back out with a fork and put it on the side of your plate. The most common thing I see people do is actually spit it in their napkin. And between you and I, I think it’s probably what I do as well. I feel strange using a utensil to pull something out of my mouth. It feels like it might draw more attention. But hey, I’m just sharing with you the etiquette rules. Last but not least, I want to talk about the tradition of giving a cheers at the end of a meal, the beginning of a meal, or really at any time. So there’s some really cool folklore about this where back in the day when you were giving a cheers, you splashed your cup so heavily that the two people who were cheersing intermixed their liquids. This showed that you were indeed drinking something that was not poisoned because you are drinking it as well. So it was a show of good faith and trust. That’s the folklore around, you know, the really heavy cheers. Nowadays, when you do cheers, the one thing that you want to do is make sure to look someone in the eye. You don’t have to be creepy about it. You don’t have to, you know, stare like crazy. But it is nice to give someone a bit of a eye smile, I’ll call it. That gives them the direct eye contact. And it’s sort of like a moment between you and that person celebrating something or acknowledging something. Perfect. I hope that these twelve tips have been interesting for you and entertaining. I want to remind you that, hey, if you’re at your local Denny’s down the street, you don’t need to eat with your fork down. You don’t need to, you know, pass the salt and pepper together. But I will tell you, you do get very used to these things and they will give you a lot of confidence when you go into that fine dining restaurant, when you’re on that date, you’re meeting those in laws or you’re on that business meeting and you know, they’re watching. Let me know how these tips work out for you in real life. I can’t wait to hear from you.  And that brings us to the end of another episode. I hope you enjoyed the conversation as much as I did. Okay, so if you haven’t already, make sure to hit that subscribe button so you never miss another episode. If you’re loving what you hear, I would be incredibly grateful if you took just a moment to rate and review this show on your favorite podcast platform. It helps others discover us, and it’s a great place to share your thoughts, suggestions, and ideas for future episodes. For even more exclusive content and detailed show notes, check out our website at. That’s spelled out 3005 six four.com as always, a huge, huge thank you for spending time with me today during this episode. I appreciate that you tuned in. I’m going to leave you the same way I do every episode. Remember, it’s not too late, you’re not too old, and you’re definitely not dead. Okay, until next time, friends.

  • Karen Stones

    Show host Karen Stones is the creative heart of ThirtyFiveSixtyFour. Born in 1979, Karen is a child of Generation X. As a podcast enthusiast, she noticed a major void in content catering to listeners her age. Karen found existing productions were either niche, evangelized negative perspectives on aging, or hosted by a well-meaning young adult who lacked the wisdom and life experience to provide meaningful insight. Thus, ThirtyFiveSixtyFour was born. The philosophy behind ThirtyFiveSixtyFour stands in stark contrast to the conventional midlife crisis narrative, advocating instead for midlife to be seen as a time of confidence, reinvention, growth, reflection, exploration and renewal.

    Karen has over twenty years of mass communication and marketing expertise. Her journey in media started early, as she interned for notable figures like Larry Morgan and Ryan Seacrest at the Los Angeles FM radio station STAR 98.7. During her university years Karen served as a disc jockey for the on-campus, student-run radio station. Following a successful career in the corporate world, she took the entrepreneurial plunge, founding 13 Jacks Marketing Agency in 2014. The agency currently oversees multimillion-dollar projects including global product launches, international events, specialized social media and advertising campaigns. Beyond her agency pursuits, Karen extends her expertise to coaching executives seeking to enhance their business strategies and personal growth. Based in Orange County, California, Karen is a dedicated mother to three and an outdoor enthusiast.

    View all posts
About the Author

Show host Karen Stones is the creative heart of ThirtyFiveSixtyFour. Born in 1979, Karen is a child of Generation X. As a podcast enthusiast, she noticed a major void in content catering to listeners her age. Karen found existing productions were either niche, evangelized negative perspectives on aging, or hosted by a well-meaning young adult who lacked the wisdom and life experience to provide meaningful insight. Thus, ThirtyFiveSixtyFour was born. The philosophy behind ThirtyFiveSixtyFour stands in stark contrast to the conventional midlife crisis narrative, advocating instead for midlife to be seen as a time of confidence, reinvention, growth, reflection, exploration and renewal.

Karen has over twenty years of mass communication and marketing expertise. Her journey in media started early, as she interned for notable figures like Larry Morgan and Ryan Seacrest at the Los Angeles FM radio station STAR 98.7. During her university years Karen served as a disc jockey for the on-campus, student-run radio station. Following a successful career in the corporate world, she took the entrepreneurial plunge, founding 13 Jacks Marketing Agency in 2014. The agency currently oversees multimillion-dollar projects including global product launches, international events, specialized social media and advertising campaigns. Beyond her agency pursuits, Karen extends her expertise to coaching executives seeking to enhance their business strategies and personal growth. Based in Orange County, California, Karen is a dedicated mother to three and an outdoor enthusiast.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *