How well do you know your manners?


Graphic by Jade Williams

With silverware aligned and sweet tea chilled, the Cotillion Ballroom was ready for the annual Etiquette Dinner at Nicholls State University. Sponsored by Career Services, The Society for Human Resource Management group hosted the dinner Wednesday night in order to provide dining skills to graduating seniors and anyone with goals to improve their dining etiquette.

The founder and President of Etiquette Center of the South LLC, Mary Bourg Chauvin, acted as the guest speaker, controlling the room with her ease and humor while providing etiquette rules throughout the four-course meal.

The meal consisted of soup, salad, a chicken entrée and cheesecake for dessert. With every dish, there were new skills to be learned. Soup, for example, should be spooned away from you as not to spill. If a piece of salad happens to fall off your plate, pick it back up with your fork and move it to the side of the plate. Also, the order of silverware used goes inward toward the center plate.

Chauvin explained these and many more concepts through stories and meetings of her own. She works to help organizations and businesses improve their image by improving their people. The main goal of the dinner was for attendees to learn the skills needed to make the best first impression, whether dining in a business setting or not.

Tips like looking down when drinking instead of looking up and tearing a piece of bread to butter versus the whole piece are only a few of the things many people don’t think twice about.

One interesting concept was the two different styles of eating. There is the American way and the Continental way. Showing how to properly hold both knife and fork with the most stability, Chauvin explained the difference in ways. The American way is to start with the fork in the left hand and knife in the right. 

After cutting this way, ask diners to place the knife in the resting spot across the top of the plate and resume eating with the fork in the right hand. In the Continental way, there is no switch in silverware. The fork remains in the left hand throughout the meal. 

Although either way is acceptable, Chauvin said to first watch and then apply; meaning, watch what the host or hostess does first, depending on where you are or even what country you are in. This also applies to ordering drinks and prices of food items when invited on a business meal.

Chauvin answered specific questions throughout the meal and even asked the diners a few true or false questions of knowledge learned during the night. The dinner not only provided excellent food but taught extremely helpful tips on behavior to benefit oneself in the future.