Etiquette de Manille & Red Archon

Posts Tagged ‘SERVICE ETIQUETTE & PROTOCOL’

Putting the Carte before the Course

In Articles, Service Etiquette & Protocol on April 3, 2011 at 12:13 am

Here’s how to create the proper table setting for the type of meal served and the style of service.

 

By Pauli Antoine

 

In a Table d’Hôte Cover the cutlery and flatware for the entire meal are laid before the first course is served.  After the order has been taken, the steward removes all unnecessary items and lays those that may be required.

In a Table d’Hôte Cover, the cutlery and flatware for the entire meal are laid before the first course is served. After the order has been taken, the steward removes all unnecessary items and lays those that may be required.

“Putting the Carte before the Course” is a classic crossword clue. The answer: MENU.

The word “menu,” derives from the Latin “minutus” or something small.  In French, it refers to a detailed list. The original menus were written on a chalkboard or carte, so foods chosen from a bill of fare are described as à la carte or “according to the board.”

The first European restaurants sold broth or bouillon as restoratives and did not have menus. These table d’hôte (tah-buhl DOHT) establishments served family-style meals from the “host’s table” at a fixed price to weary travelers. The contemporary menu first appeared in the 18th century and allowed diners to choose from a list of dishes.  A close relative of a table d’hôte is the prix fixe (pree-fix) or fixed price meal that offers two or more courses, with a choice of dishes per course. 

The Standard Table Cover includes appointments like the centerpiece, salt and pepper shakers, an an ashtray (for smoking areas).

The Standard Table Cover includes appointments like the centerpiece, salt and pepper shakers, and an ashtray (for smoking areas).

Now that we’ve positioned the carte, let’s set the course. There are a variety of place settings, which have to be laid to prepare for service according to the type of meal and service style. All the items facing a diner when he is seated at the table are parts of the cover, an old-fashioned term for the table setting for one person.  Here is a quick primer on the various components and rules to assembling the proper cover:

3 Components of a Place Setting

  1. Dinnerware – plates, cups, bowls, saucers, platters and other serving pieces
  2. Flatware – butter and regular knives; salad, pickle and regular forks; soup, dessert and regular spoons
  3. Glassware- water goblet, milk and wine glasses, and sorbet glass

4 Types of Flatware 

  1. Soup spoon – largest, rounded
  2. Salad fork- smaller than regular
  3. Butter knife – shape and size smaller than regular, indented and tapered
  4. Pickle fork – shape and size smaller than regular

 6 Rules in Dinnerware Placement

  1. Allow 20″-24″ for each place setting with the plate in the middle
  2. The rule of thumb: the plate should be 1″ from the table edge
  3. Bread/butter plate – top left
  4. Salad plate – lower top left
  5. Soup bowl – on plate or separate
  6. Cup/saucer – separate

4 Rules in Flatware Placement

  1. The rule of thumb: place items 1″ from the table edge
  2. Forks are positioned on the left side of the plate.  Knives, spoons and pickle fork are positioned on the right side of the plate.  
  3. Arrange flatware in order of use, from outside going towards the plate. The salad fork should be to the left of the dinner fork if the salad is the first course, and to the right if the salad is served with dinner.
  4. Forks should be tines up.  Knives are positioned with the sharp edge towards the plate.  Spoons are laid with bowls up.  The butter knife is placed on the  bread or butter plate with the handle towards the diner.

3 Rules for Glassware Placement

  1. The water goblet should be at the tip of dinner knife blade.
  2. Other beverage glasses should be at right of the water goblet and slightly forward in a diagonal line or triangular formation. The cup and saucer should be set at the lower right after the main course has been cleared
  3. If glassware contents are cold, serve with a linen coaster to catch condensation.
The Standard Table Cover includes appointments like the centerpiece, salt and pepper shakers, an an ashtray (for smoking areas).

The Standard Table Cover includes appointments like the centerpiece, salt and pepper shakers, and an ashtray (for smoking areas).

Unwrapping the Fast Food Cover

The modern fast food menu is a marvel.  Colorful digital displays became the pop-standard tool for  posting a streamlined and static selection in à la carte fashion and table d’hôte variations.  The concept of modern fast food is a by-product of the Industrial Revolution.   The working class required fast, economical and portable foods.  Nearly from its inception, fast food has been designed to be eaten “on the go” and does not require traditional flatware and cutlery. In Japan, if you want something fast, you press a button on the one-man-chef vendo machine and, presto!

The Blue Plate Meal Service is considered the precursor of modern fast food trays. A manufacturer made plates with separate sections for each part of a meal and for whatever reason they were only available in the color blue.   The term became popular in the late 1920s with restaurants competing on “A La Carte All Day” and “Blue Plate Specials” — “a steak-and-lots-of-onion sandwich for a dime” and “a big blue-plate special, with meat course and three vegetables, for a quarter, just as it has been for the last ten years.”  In Blue Plate Meal Service, serving techniques are not enforced. 

In other words, the romantic “cover” must give way to speed, cost and functionality. Or, must it? 

Edward Lear in his poem “The Owl and the Pussycat,” coined the term “runcible spoon” — the ancestor of the ingenuous plastic spoon with tines.  It appears in the third verse: “They dined on mince, and slices of quince / Which they ate with a runcible spoon.”  Lear also used the term in his nonsense alphabet poem, “Twenty-six Nonsense Rhymes and Pictures” under the entry for the letter D: “The Dolomphious Duck, who caught Spotted Frogs for her dinner with a Runcible Spoon.”

We all must dance with the realities of the action-packed, fast-paced 21st century so whenever you can, just pack a set of silverware and linen for those quick take-outs — unfolding the fine linen on your lap will remind you that dining doesn’t always have to be that fast and that convenient.  Bon appétit and remember to pack for friends too when dining with them is expected.

REMEMBER THIS

The rules for table setting may seem confusing and complicated.  Here are a few handy tips to help you remember them in a pinch.

  • Picture the word “FORKS.” The order from left to right, is: F for Fork, O for the Plate (the shape!), K for Knives and S for Spoons. (Okay, the R is missing.  It stands for Ruler – every item on the cover should be straight and well-measured).
  • Holding your hands in front of you, touch the tips of your thumbs to the tips of your forefingers to make a lowercase “b” with your left hand and a lowercase “d’ with your right hand. This reminds you that “bread and butter” go to the left of the place setting and “drinks” go on the right.

Mini-Guide to Ordering in a French Restaurant

In France, restaurants are mandated by law to post their menu with prices outside the door or on the window.  Remember that menu in France does not have the same connotation as it does in English. Le Menu in French is short for Le Menu de Jour or Le Menu à Prix Fixe, (the “à prix fixe” is implied and almost never expressed aloud).  So, if you would like to pick individual items from the menu, just say ‘à la carte’ Generally ordering le menu works out cheaper than ordering à la carte, and lunch menus at French restaurants are cheaper than dinner menus.

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Styling by Pauli Antoine.  Photos by Mark Floro/Shot on location at Restaurant 101, Enderun Colleges, 1100 Campus Avenue, McKinley Hill, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig.

This article was published in the April 2011 issue of F&B World Magazine, Front of House. 

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The Titanium Rule to Haute Etiquette

In Articles, Service Etiquette & Protocol, Titanium Customer Service on March 3, 2011 at 8:28 am

Achieve fine-dining service standards at the level of casual dining by understanding your customers and exceeding their expectations.

 

 By Pauli Antoine

 
 
Left - Casual dining chain, Italliani's carries the signatureof "La Dolce Vita" from "benvenuto" to grazie amidst a landscape of casual dining concepts.  R- A welcome greeting and a genuine smile to make customers feel at home.

Left – Casual dining chain, Italliani’s carries the signatureof “La Dolce Vita” from “benvenuto” to grazie amidst a landscape of casual dining concepts. Right – A welcome greeting and a genuine smile to make customers feel at home.

 

I am often asked whether the level of service should change depending on the type of restaurant, like fine service for fine dining and casual service for casual restaurants. The answer is a firm but qualified “no.” The style can change depending on the establishment’s theme, but the level of service must remain refined and should exceed expectations by anticipating keenly what a customer needs and wants.  Haute cuisine (literally “high cooking” in French) is a cookery style that originated in Napoleonic France, a refinement of traditional techniques and a radical reorganization of the way kitchens were run. So, why not practice haute etiquette to revolutionize the service industry?

The Golden Rule: Treat people the way you want to be treated

The Golden Rule is a good rule-of-thumb but works only when you want to treat others the same way you want to be treated. Surely every diner wants to be seated at the best table.  So if you are committed to creating an exceptional experience, then each customer’s wants, needs, and desires have to be acknowledged, celebrated, and acted upon. This now brings us to the next rule.

The Platinum Rule: Treat customers the way they would like to be treated

If the Golden Rule is about what you want, the Platinum Rule is about what your customers want. Although itsounds like common sense, it’s not as common as most would think.  There must be a deliberate effort to understand your customers.  Anticipation is a crucial concept in delivering excellent dining service.  It is important to read customers individually and the table as a whole—way ahead of time.  Until the late 1980’s, diners were greeted by a professional of the highest order—the maitre d’. He ruled the dining room of every fine-dining restaurant. Customers followed him wherever he worked. The loyalty was to the maitre d’ and not the restaurant. Over dinner at the fine dining landmark, Prince Albert Rotisserie in InterContinental Manila, I watched a couple locked in each other’s arms walk in. The maitre d’ instinctively offered a table in a quiet corner. Next to arrive was a group of serious-looking men in business attire. The server took their orders quickly, cued by the maitre d’ to render efficient, unobtrusive service without ignoring the table. No fuss, no frills. What happens if a party of eight arrives to celebrate and have cocktails? They should be seated near the bar where patrons probably won’t mind the extra chatter and beverages can be served more efficiently.

Over the years, the position of maitre d’ has been eliminated for reasons that revolve around cutting costs with restaurants, citing a more “casual dining” appeal as an excuse.  The dining scene now presents someone with very little understanding of customer service, holding on to the reins of greeting diners and shaping first impressions.

There are still some restaurants in town that take the job of first impressions seriously. They know the value of maintaining a seasoned host, not just to put a personal and professional glow to the initial interaction, but to gauge the temperament of the customer, seat them accordingly, and pass on relevant information to the staff.

Even though dining is becoming more casual and less formal, the maitre d’ is one formality that is due for a comeback—and this time, with a more definitive purpose.

The Titanium Rule: Treat others in a way that they did not even know was possible

Don’t just meet your customer’s expectations, exceed them. I’ll explain this rule by giving you the inspiration behind it. On one of my favorite trips with my family, I indulged in the revelry of sand, sun, and surf at Royal Bali. The server who presented me with a Lime-Twist Daiquiri stood beside me staring at the sparkling sun.  He then made a swift, fluid motion and angled the pristine, white canopy just before the sun hit my eyes, then excused himself with a bow and a warm smile.

These feats of exceeding expectations need not be superfluous but rather spontaneous with a keen sense of feeling and understanding the customer. It is the sixth sense of customer service and the mark of haute etiquette.  Whether casual or formal, the mark to achieve should be nothing less than excellence in haute etiquette by keeping the Titanium Rule in mind. If gold costs $24 a gram, titanium costs only $5 a gram. But once excellently crafted into fine jewelry, titanium commands a handsome price for its beauty and quality workmanship.

RED, Makati Shangri-La takes fine dining to a pace that keeps up with the top brass.  Servers anticipate that you want to enjoy a full course, make it on time for your next appointment, while your bag, coat, and shawl are kept at its finest.

RED, Makati Shangri-La takes fine dining to a pace that keeps up with the top brass. Servers anticipate that you want to enjoy a full course, make it on time for your next appointment, while your bag, coat, and shawl are kept at its finest.

The 10 Elements of Haute Etiquette

1 Confident Image. When you look good, you feel good.  When you feel good, you perform better.  Appearance is part of the product that you and the restaurant will be judged by.

2 Fresh as Lime. This sends a strong message to guests. It makes them comfortable and confident that they are in a healthy, professional, and caring establishment.

3 Timely and Appropriate Greeting.  It is everyone’s responsibility to

Anticipating customer needs while maintaining proper visual poise.

Anticipating customer needs while maintaining proper visual poise.

greet guests. But do not use the loud, chorus-style of welcoming guests. Never throw a greeting across the room. When the host is away from the door, greet new guests with a pleasant expression. Let them know that someone will be right with them. “Good evening. Our host, Nadine will be with you in a short while.”

4 Proper Introductions at the Table.  Introductions should be done within two minutes and should be polite, refined, energetic, calm, and professional.

5 Product Knowledge and Salesmanship.  Servers must know and understand everything that the establishment offers. Product awareness increases confidence. When guests have confidence in you, they will more likely listen to your recommendations and their level of satisfaction increases.

6 Efficient Service.  Establish a standard waiting time for courses:

• 3 minutes for beverages

• 10 minutes for appetizers

• 20 minutes for entrées

• 5 minutes for after dinner-drinks and desserts

7 Diners’ Happiness.  Check back within three minutes of serving. Be polite, positive, and specific. It is not necessary to ask every one. Be alert for non-verbal cues that all is not well. If there is a problem, take care of it. Alert a manager. 

Every guest must leave extremely happy.  Okay is not what we’re striving for. It should be nothing less than excellent!

8 Table Service Etiquette.  To increase guest comfort, do a smooth transition from one course to the next.  Maintain tables in a fluid fashion by observing proper timing and etiquette:

 • Set the bread basket or food nearest the diner.

• Before delivering a course, check for silverware resets. Pull and replace. Never make a guest reuse a dirty utensil.

• Remove dirty plates before delivering the next course to avoid table gridlock.

• Never approach a table without something the guests need and never leave without something they don’t.

• When the check is presented, the table should already be bussed down to coffee cups, water glasses, and dessert plates.

• Cap ashtrays and keep them clean. Two butts max!

9 Mindful Floor Presence.  Be available. The difference between good and excellent service is the ability to anticipate, rather than react to a need. Notice not what they need, but what they are about to need.

10 A Reason to Return Means Going Above and Beyond.  Look out for the little things that you can do. Be thoughtful and creative in executing that extraordinary gesture that will make you and your restaurant stand out like a titanium masterpiece of haute etiquette.

Behind-the-Scenes: Before directing  shoots, Image and Etiquette Archon, Pauli Antoine conducts on-the-ground training on visual poise and  styles the models for picture-perfect shots.

Behind-the-Scenes: Before directing shoots, Image and Etiquette Archon, Pauli Antoine conducts actual training on visual poise and styles the models for picture-perfect shots.

This article was published in the March 2011 issue of F&B World Magazine, Front of House. 

Styling and Visual Poise Direction by Pauli Antoine.  Photos by Christian Regis/Shot on location at Italianni’s Greenbelt 3, Makati City and RED, Makati Shangri-La Manila.

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