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Proper Etiquette for Banquet Food Service

Observing proper etiquette in all facets of banquet service establishes the formal nature of the event while elevating the expectations of the guest for quality beverages, food and service. Proper etiquette also establishes a sense of order for the guests and an organized procedure for the servers to follow. Professional banquet personnel must be highly trained and work hard and diligently to adhere to the rigorous requirements of etiquette. This gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment for their part in the success of the banquet. Etiquette also instills a sense of elegance to an affair and makes it more enjoyable for everyone concerned.
Table Settings
Place the plate in the center of the setting with the soup bowl in the plate's exact center. The salad fork is on the left side, with the dinner fork next to it, then the fish fork followed by a neatly-folded napkin. Place the service knife on the right side, then the fish knife and soup spoon. Immediately above the plate lie the cake fork with the dessert spoon above it. The bread and butter plate sets above and centered on the forks. Place the water glass, white wine glass and red wine glass in descending order on a 45 degree angle to right of the table service. Every piece must be the same geometric distance apart and in-line with one another. The coffee cup and saucer are placed on the right of the soup spoon. Lay the coffee spoon to the right of the saucer.
Beverage Service
Beverage service is offered to guests during the course of the banquet. The server uses the right hand to serve the beverage with the open palm facing the guest. The back of the hand is never exposed to the guest. Table service is first extended to the guest of honor, then the ladies at the table, beginning with the eldest to the youngest. Serve the most senior of the gentlemen, depending upon age or status. The host is served last. The server is prepared to pour all the beverages at the table at one time, never leaving one person's glass waiting after filling that of another.
Food Service
All food is served from the left-hand side of the guest, with the servers palm facing the guest, while never showing the guest the back of the hand. Serve the guest of honor, the ladies in descending order of age, the eldest or most senior of the gentlemen, and the host served last. Serve each course to all the guests at one table at the same time, beginning with the guest of honor, then go to the next table. If possible, serve all courses to all tables at one time. Set special choices of entrйe or dietary request at the table before the service begins. Last-minute substitutions are provided immediately.
Clearing of Tables
The server clears each course of dishes, including those not used, when the last guest at that table is done with that course. The server uses the right hand to remove the dishes, silverware and glasses from the right side of the guest. The server should not reach in front of or across the guest when clearing the table. All crumbs are swept from the table and necessary utensils are provided in preparation for the next course.

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