Program Focus: Etiquette Dinner

Say you’ve starting interviewing for your first career job, and you’re on your third interview for an opportunity to work with a highly reputable accounting firm. You’re invited to join high-ranking representatives for a formal dinner at an elegant restaurant. When you arrive, the table is set for a five-course meal, with more glasses, silverware, and plates than you’ve ever seen in your life. What do you do?

Without the proper training, etiquette educator Marie Hornback says, you might have to follow others’ lead. Her goal is to train young people in the proper handling of such situations, so that they can demonstrate their own confidence and leadership — and improve their chances of landing the job.

That’s the reason for the etiquette dinner that was recently offered for Department of Accounting students. Hornback specializes in training others in skills of a bygone era — everything from calligraphy and cursive writing for young kids, to formal dining etiquette for college students.

At the February 8 dinner, led by Hornback, students came to a five-course meal featuring shrimp cocktail, soup, salad, main course, and dessert. “What I do,” she says, “is walk them through how to eat that shrimp cocktail — what to do, and what utensils to use, then how to eat soup correctly, and so on. In fact, we cover everything from how to take their seat, and how to place their napkins on their laps, through to placing the napkin back on the table at the end of the meal.”

Why etiquette?

Kathie Schultz, a 1978 CSU graduate who spent time working in public accounting, helped fund the etiquette dinner. She wanted to give back, her employer wanted to match her personal donation to the Department of Accounting, and she wanted to find a unique way to contribute to today’s students.

During her time at CSU, she says, she got to participate in an accounting banquet with some similar elements. “Even if there were just a few tips here and there,” Schultz says, “each thing I learned was one less thing I had to worry about when I later went into business dinners. I was much more at ease, and knew how to make others feel at ease, too. So I could concentrate on whatever business we needed to talk about.”

Hornback’s training gives students the ability to understand how to confidently navigate not just a five-course dinner, but anything from a casual dining setting, to a 14-course meal in Japan.

Carli Judson, a junior double-majoring in accounting and finance, said she was very grateful for the opportunity. “I learned so much,” she says, “including the order in which drinks are served, and in what glasses; how to politely refuse drinks; what each utensil is for; and how to politely eat a roll — which is way more complicated than you’d think!  It was very important to learn all these things while doing them. I don’t think I could have effectively understood or remembered most things otherwise.”

Schultz hopes the dinners can continue in future years, she says. “I’m a very lucky girl to have gone to school at CSU… I can’t thank Audrey Gramling enough for being so open to discussing different ideas for things people want to do for those studying there today. It really makes you want to stand up and pay it forward.”

Etiquette Tip for Used Silverware

Marie Hornback says you should never put used silverware back on the table between courses, if servers don’t remove them with your dishes. Not so much because it would bother anyone else — but because you won’t want to use the silverware again if you do let it touch the table. If your main plate is gone and you’re waiting for your next course, here are some polite and sanitary options:

  • Turn your fork upside down and place the tines on an unused knife if you have one
  • Place it on your small bread plate if it’s still in front of you
  • Set it on a napkin or other paper product left on the table