How to Gracefully Dine alone

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I used to see people eating in a restaurant by themselves and feel bad for them. I know it was judgemental, but for some reason it always seemed sad to me that they had no one to eat with and talk to. Suddenly, one day I realized that some people may actually eat alone by choice. It may be the one time of day they get a few minutes alone or it may be a time that they use for other things. Regardless, I began to wonder what it would be like to go into an eating establishment and say “One” when asked how many. So, I did just that one day and I learned a great deal about dining alone.

The first thing I learned is that it can be a very relaxing time. When you first get to your table, it is important to pick the seat that you want. After all, there is nobody there to tell you otherwise. Once seated, take your time and peruse the menu because unless you are in a hurry, there is no reason to rush. Be sure to ask those questions that you might usually stifle to save time when eating out. Have that glass of wine or that appetizer that you always think you would enjoy. The more comfortable you are, the more graceful you will be.

Another thing I learned, was that when dining alone, nobody else is paying any attention. They might look up when you walk by, but unless you feel the need to explain to the waiter or waitress why you are alone, most people could not care less. So, relax and enjoy. There is no need to keep looking around to see who is watching you because I did just that and the answer is for the most part, not one single person is watching.

Finally, if you are concerned about looking obvious, bring something to do. Maybe it would be a good time to write a grocery list or a quick thank you card. You could calculate your checkbook. This tip is especially helpful if you feel self-conscious about being there alone. It will keep you occupied while waiting for the meal.

There is no shame in dining alone and you should feel free to do so should the occasion ever arise. You may just find that it is a welcome treat every once in awhile.

Expected behaviour at a business lunch

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Business luncheons are organized to ease the usual work tension and to provide a more conducive environment outside the work environment to do business. It helps a great deal to motivate and refresh business partners and associates. Some business luncheons are organized to test how well an employee or prospective employee can represent the owner of a business and his business especially when asked to transact business with other associates at a luncheon. Some individuals usually get carried away and make some avoidable mistakes; they forget the fact that they are not in their living rooms. As an employee, you would not want to embarrass your boss during one of those luncheons.

Table manners

The basic thing to note during a business luncheon is to observe the basic table manners; do not blow your nose into your napkin as this could be nauseating, do not eat with your mouth wide open and of course don’t forget that your boss is not interested in the sound that comes from your mouth while eating. Manage the use of your cutlery and do not drop anything that falls from your mouth into your plate.

You would not want to look stupid where your boss is, in other words, do not go to the luncheon unprepared. Check online for the menu list of the restaurant where the luncheon is being held, this helps you to have an idea of what is served at the restaurant so that when it is time to choose from the actual menu, you would be sending a message that you are smart in your decision making; this makes your boss happy and satisfied that he has hired the right person in his organization.

Avoid competing with your boss. In most cases, do not order the same meal that your boss orders so as not to question his authority as the boss, if you do, you make your boss feel threatened. In cases where your boss recommends a meal for you, though, do not object. Just smile and flow so that it would not destabilize you and make you feel unserious and unsettled.

With your boss with you on the same table, you would not want to be rude, so put your mobile device- iPhone, blackberry on silent mode or you can switch them off so that you would not be tempted to pick calls during business conversation. Not only that your ring tones can disrupt the meeting and the purpose of the luncheon might seem thwarted.

Why you should be Polite to your Waitress

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Waitress job is an honorable job in the hospitality industry. Because of her excellent performance, customer will really enjoy their time with her. She can make every customer become happy and feel in at their home atmosphere. She can let her customer forget their tiredness and fatigue when she shows up.

People will never forget their golden moment after they get the excellent service from her. Whoever will respect her because her job shows her wisdom and talent.
In the past, the old generation thought that waitress job was low class job in the society. Most of them didn’t want their daughter to be a waitress; they thought that waitress got less money and face many troubles to her guests. It is very easy to get complain from the guest when something working not smoothly. They didn’t understand what the real meaning of a waitress is.

They misunderstood the waitress job; they would rather let their daughter work at another job. Actually their thinking is not correct, because they neglect the importance of a waitress job. They don’t understand the waitress can bring the happiness and joyfulness to the people. When people think of that; the waitress job is really a great job. She will be proud of herself because she can create the new environment and good atmosphere for her customers. She should be praised and encouraged. People will thank her excellent job and her hardness.
If you are a guest, please understand the waitress situation.

Try to not scold or blame the waitress when you think her job is not perfect; for example, due to some reason the food is delayed, wrong food order, or drink spilled on the clothes etc. Sometimes the restaurant is very busy and less manpower, it might make some mistakes, and especially the kitchen side is easy to create some problem. It cause the food served late or served to the wrong table. When this kind of things happen to you, you should clam down and check the waitress, let her follow up your problem. Never show your attitude or lose your temper to her. You have to understand her and excuse her, let her not feel embarrass. Because the situation might be very hard for her, the workload is over her capacity at that moment.

If you treat the waitress not properly, it may hurt her heart. When you see her next time you might difficult to get your satisfied service from her. She also will escape you when she see you again. If you do it like that you can not enjoy your meal anymore. On the contrary, if you treat your waitress very politely even she happen some small mistakes. She will never forget you and try to recover her job mistake as soon as possible. She will keep an eye on you and do her best for you whenever she serves you.

She will remember you and provide the convenience to you when you see her. Whatever you need she will try her best to satisfied you and show her helpfulness. You will feel really happy when you see her next time.

Dinner Party Seating Etiquette

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Seating etiquette often comes second to all the other demands of holding a dinner party. The food, the wine, and the guests are all important. However, the seating arrangements can make or break your dinner party.

Seating arrangements

Formal dinner parties always have specified places for each guest. Seating protocol is particularly strict at diplomatic or other high-ranking dinners, which are beyond the scope of this article. Semi-formal and casual dinner parties may also use specified seating arrangements to accommodate people’s personalities or needs. The most casual buffet parties don’t need seating arrangements.

Each seat placement is identified by a separate place card. These should be styled appropriately to the event.

= Seating protocol =

The places of honor are to the right side of the host and to the right of the hostess. A male guest of honor sits to the hostess’ right. A female guest of honor sits at the host’s right. If there are no guests of honor, the positions are filled by close friends or by guest seniority. In some cases where there is only a single guest of honor, the host and hostess may sit together.

At Eastern formal dinners, the most senior person at the table sits at the head of a rectangular table. From there, seniority passes down the table on both sides. This is also the same order in which eating begins.

= Men and women =

Where both men and women will be guests and seating does not follow a strict order of precedence, an equal number of men and women should be invited whenever possible. The seating in this case will alternate men and women. With an odd number of people, choose 2 like-minded people of the majority sex to sit together.

Married couples should not be seated together unless the husband or wife is paintfully shy. This separation at dinner parties promotes conversation with others.

= Professions and interests =

Seating guests of similar professions together has both advantages and disadvantages. Talking shop is much more likely when people in close seating proximity have similar professions. You may prefer dinner conversation to flow along points of interest rather than professional detail. An alternative is to seat guests who have common non-work interests together.

The dinner party is also a business meeting, the host and hostess usually sit together at the head of the table. Other guests are seated in groups as appropriate to the requirements of the meeting. This may require a varying size selection of tables to accommodate different group sizes.

= Cautionary note =

Do not seat people who do not like each other together unless, for some reason, that is the point of the dinner party. Breaking this rule can also break your dinner party.

Sitting down

At a formal dinner, the men escort women to their seats and pull out their chairs for them. No man sits down until all the women have been seated.

The first couple to go to their place are the host and the female guest of honor. The next is the hostess and male guest of honor, although the male guest to her left should pull out her chair for her.

After all the guests of honor are at their place, others can find their seats. Men should escort women whenever possible, with each man escorting the woman who sits to his right. After all the women are seated, the men can join them. Shortly after that, the first courses can be served.

Late arrivals

A dinner party should not be delayed by more than 15 minutes for late arrivals. Anyone who knocks at the door after that time should be met by the host at the door. A late guest apologizes to the hostess before being taken to his or her seat.

If a female guest is late, the other men at the table should rise while her tablemate to her left pulls out her chair for her. They do not sit down again until she is seated.

Restaurant Terms

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When you go out to eat at a restaurant and you are seated near the expeditor and/or the kitchen, you may hear a few terms that you are not familiar with, unless you have worked in the restaurant industry. These terms are commonly used among cooks and servers. It is like their own language. When a person gets their first job in a restaurant, getting used to this language can be difficult. Many of the cooks and servers will use these terms and walk away leaving you wondering what the heck they just said to you. If you are curious about the most common terms in this restaurant language, read on.

Back of the house/front of the house: This one is easy. The back of the house refers mainly to the kitchen, but the office and expeditor station are also situated there. The front of the house is the part of the restaurant where guests dine, people are seated and drinks are served.

On the fly: On the fly means, make that as fast as you possibly can in restaurant terms. This term is used when something was not ordered back to the kitchen in a timely manner or there was some other mistake along the way. So, if you hear an authoritative voice in the kitchen say, “Ordering a (insert food here) on the fly.” you know they are in a hurry.

Behind you: After ten years spent working in kitchens, I find myself using this term in all kinds of places-especially the grocery store. “Behind you” is what a staff member will say when they are walking behind someone else. Restaurants can be so loud and busy that it is all too easy for people to just crash into each other. If you say behind you, then your “teammate” knows you are there and will not back up into that hot pot of water you are carrying.

Corner: Corner is another restaurant term that is used to keep people from crashing into each other. It is used when you. . . you guessed it. . . are going around a corner. It does not matter if you are empty-handed, the person who may be coming around that corner might not be. These terms should be used consistently.

In the weeds: This restaurant term is often used an S.O.S. If you hear a cook cry “Ah! I’m in the weeds.” it means she/he is getting too many orders at once and they need help. It can also be used as a negative answer to a request to help. For example, “Can you help me clean my station?” “Sorry, I can’t. I’m in the weeds.” Basically, it means, “I am very busy. If you’re not going to help me, get out of my way.”

86: 86 is simple. It means we are all out. Cooks use this term to inform servers and other cooks that they are out of something. The message is then passed to the rest of the staff. This is a cook’s favorite restaurant term. It is dorky, but when my shift was over in the middle of a rush, I used to say “86 Shelly.” with a big smile on my face.

Fire: When a cook tells another cook to fire something, that means get is started. This term is used when certain dishes need to go out before others, so you have to wait to start some of them. Once the salad or appetizer is on the guest’s table, you fire their entrees.

Up sell: This restaurant term is the dirty word that leads your server to push certain drinks or foods on you. When a server comes to your table and say something like “Have you tried our mojitos? They are to die for.” That means that their manager has told them to “up sell” mojitos. It is probably just an ordinary mojito, trust me.

Dish pit: Dish pit is the restaurant term for dungeon, I mean, dish area. This is where our busboys, dishwashers and, on the occasion, managers, servers and cooks, wash dishes. It is my belief that this term got started when a poor cook was forced to wash his own pots and pans when a dishwasher was out sick. It really is like a pit, minus the sunk into the ground part.

Now that you know what these terms mean, you will have a better understanding of what is going on in a restaurant the next time you enter one. It seems like a small success. However, I have to admit that I feel much better knowing what those cooks are yelling about in the “back of the house.”

The best Gift to Bring to a Dinner Party

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Here in Greece the traditional gift to take along when dining at someone’s house is cakes. Not just any cakes but cakes from a bakery. There is a very distinct difference between taking along some home made offering and that from a shop, and the pastry shops produce large sickly sweet confections full of honey and cream which no one ever appears to eat. Quite what happens to them all once the boxes are open is anyone’s guess but the most likely outcome is the boxes are piled in the fridge and then thrown out when the cakes have gone off.

If wine is taken along then it is far more appreciated if it is the home made variety in a plastic bottle rather than any of that rubbish bought from a shop which will be full of chemicals. Home made red wine from real grapes is highly prized and thought of as good medicine. It is known as spitico, and the best tavernas produce their own and people eagerly await the day when the barrel will be ready. Usually it is available from November to March and after that people need to risk being poisoned by shop bought wine.

Flowers aren’t terribly popular as gifts but there are a number of plastic flower shops which stock offerings. Real flowers grow outside but indoors they simply attract mosquitoes and die in the heat. However a gift of a pot plant in vibrant hues to add to the balcony display will always go down well, as would a pot of basil. Naturally one mustn’t be seen to eat the basil as this is considered a rather odd habit and if you want to buy a basil plant you must go to the florist.

Naturally it is acceptable to take a gift of olive oil for your hosts and it is fine if you put it in a plastic water bottle. This type of gift would be suitable when the first oil of the year is produced and it is fresh, and even if your hosts have just filled their own barrel with 100 kilos of olive oil for that year’s use they will still appreciate your offering as long as you didn’t buy it in shop. It is imperative that the oil must be from your own supply and it would be considered very bad form to try and pass off a plastic bottle from the shop as your own as most likely it could have been watered down.

These gifts of shop bought cakes, home produced olive oil, basil from a florist, and spitico wine will all be appreciated by your hosts. Just remember to keep the items in order and never turn up with home made cakes, shop bought wine, flowers out of the garden or olive oil from the shop.

Don’t believe in Tipping – Yes

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People who work hard at their jobs deserve to be paid for their efforts, but, receiving an extra “bonus” by means of a tip should not be expected in the restaurant industry.  Most people tip restaurant wait staff even if they don’t want to tip them but do so in fear of appearing cheap and ungrateful.  Most people who dine in restaurants are aware that wait staff are hopeful that diners will leave tips behind because waiters and waitresses are paid less than the minimum wage due to the liquor tax.  However, it is not the diners’ fault that the restaurant’s owners are paying the wait staff so poorly. 

When people are chastised by others for not tipping, what is actually happening is that they are being “told” how they should spend their own money.  Everyone makes money from someone else but once the money is made, it is our own money to keep and decide what to do with it.  Waiting tables may or may not be a difficult job, but every profession is challenging and police officers, teachers, firefighters and doctors don’t get tips for doing their jobs; jobs that they had to invest money in for being trained to perform their jobs.  Accountants, attorneys, travel agents and farmers don’t get tips for performing their job duties either.  There is no reason to pressure people to tip restaurant wait staff for performing their job duties when the MAJORITY of people do not receive tips at their workplaces.

How difficult and strenuous is it for a bartender to open a bottle of beer and pour the liquid into a glass?  The answer is that opening and pouring a beverage is not very difficult and everyone can do it!  Why should a busboy or a waiter be paid “extra” for clearing the table when we don’t get paid “extra” to do that ourselves in our own homes?  Wait staff who work in Canada and in the United States of America expect to be tipped for giving good service, but tipping is OPTIONAL and NOT legally mandatory.  However, some wait staff complain if they don’t get a tip and some even have the nerve to confront diners as to why they didn’t receive a tip from them!  Restaurant wait staff are already being paid by the restaurant owners to do their jobs.  Granted, the hourly wage that restaurant wait staff receive is not a lot of money but it is not the customer’s job to pay the wait staff’’s salary.  If waiters and waitresses are not happy with how much they get paid then perhaps they should discuss a pay raise with their managers or find another job.

Tipping restaurant staff is customary in North America but in many other countries around the world, tipping is not done, nor is it expected.  European countries, Japan, Australia and several other nations don’t pressure patrons to tip because waiters make higher wages in those countries.  It is absolutely shameful that wait staff working in North America do not get paid a high enough wage before tips to make a decent living but it is equally shameful to make diners feel “cheap” and “mean” for choosing not to tip.  If tipping was abolished, there would be no pressure to pay more money on top of the restaurant bill if you don’t feel comfortable doing that.  Tipping is a CHOICE and in a democratic country everyone has the right to choose how their hard earned money should be spent. 

Should Cell Phones be Banned in Restaurants – No

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“Ooops. I dropped my fork.” It will be a loud noise, and it will get attention of all people in the restaurant. What should we do? Maybe, we should ban using forks in restaurants. What do you think?

Respect to all:

It is a part of social life to respect others in any place, from noisy subway stations to up-town fine dining restaurants.  If a place is noisy, it doesn’t mean that we can make more noise there. Maybe, if you try to be less noisy, that place become a relaxing place too.

Movie theaters:

Let’s go to another place, the movie theaters. The sound effects in the movie theaters are an important part of the experience. The audience in the theater are deep in the story, and almost are disconnected from the environment around them. If a cell phone starts to ring, it will ruin the whole experience. None of the audience could follow the movie in the same way. It is an obvious fact. But, despite this, nobody is asking to ban cell phones in the theaters. What is asked from the people in the theater is to put their cell phone in silence mode, or turn it off. Cell phone is part of our life.

Cell phones and life:

Without cell phones, we cannot have such a confidence to go out, to go to a theater, or any other things. It assures us that if something unexpected happens, we can be reached any where, any time (I hope so). Almost all people in a restaurant know this, and maybe have a chance to go out dining because of this miracle. If cell phones are banned in the restaurant, the number of people who could go dining will be reduced , and many people become nervous because they don’t know what is happening out there. For sure, owners of restaurants don’t want this.

Final word:

The simplest solution would be that the owner of a restaurant/servant could ask the people to put their cell phones in silence mode when they are going to sit at the table. It is an option that any restaurant could adopt. It is like BYOB option. There will be two type of restaurants, one that allows cell phones anyway, and the others that ask that cell phones be set in silence mode during the dining time. They can put this on their ads, and info. Then, the people can choose. If somebody is so sensitive to the cell phone rings, they could select a restaurant from the second group, and so on. There is no need to ban a device, just because of personal the preferences of one group of people.

Korean Barbeque Etiquette

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For the initiated, Korean barbeque is a unique way to enjoy good food, cooked over a grill, at any time of the year. It is extremely popular, and many people enjoy a weekly trip to a Korean barbeque restaurant. For those unfamiliar with Korean barbeque, it is a style of eating different to anything else. The meat is served raw, with a table-set grill with charcoal for guests to cook their own meat. It is normally made up of both marinated and non marinated beef, pork and seafood, and extremely occasionally includes chicken. Also included in the meal are panchan (sometimes referred to as banchan), which are side dishes, often comprising potato salad, vegetables or soup.

It is incredibly easy to enjoy Korean barbeque food, while maintaining the cultural etiquette expected. There are slight differences between eating as a guest of an individual, or at a restaurant. However, the general principles of good manners and etiquette remain for either case, as they do in any other condition.

Panchan

When eating in a restaurant, you will more often than not find that panchan is free of charge and all you can eat. Panchan when served in a private residence will most often have been prepared freshly, and so you should make every effort to sample everything on offer, as refusal may cause offence. None of the panchan should be added into the meat sandwiches; this is poor etiquette and detracts from the flavor of both the meat and the panchan.

With panchan there are usually four sauces provided. A salt and sesame oil mixture is for use with non marinated meat, a sweet soy sauce for marinated meat, and a bean paste and hot sauce for any use. While intended for anything, the soybean paste is especially used when topping lettuce in a bundle.

Salad

Along with the panchan will be a selection of salad, or simply lettuce. This is intended to be eaten with the meat. Lettuce leaves should be torn off, held face up, and a piece of grilled meat inserted, topped with sauce, and closed over, to create a lettuce-meat sandwich. This should not be rolled to create a burrito style tube. In addition to the sauce, it is usual to add a jalapeño slice or slice of roasted garlic, which will usually be available.

Rice / Noodles

On the whole, rice is not eaten with Korean barbeque. By ordering or requesting rice, you are likely to either be met with disappointment or simply outlandish looks. Noodles, on the other hand, are often eaten. However, these are usually very different to how they are usually eaten in Western culture. One style is mul-naeng-myun, which is served in a salty, icy broth. Another, slightly more conventional serving is bibim-naeng-myun, which is served in a spicy sauce. Noodles are not usually served until the end of the meal, therefore it is necessary to ask (and break general etiquette) if you wish to enjoy them with your meat.

Meat

Meat is brought to the table raw, together with a hot grill. It is cooked by the diners, at the table. If you are new to the methods, more often than not your host (or server in a restaurant) will help to get you started and offer advice along the way.

Meats are divided into marinated and non-marinated, and each has different styles and flavors:

Galbi: Marinated rib beef. This is the most popular form of Korean barbeque.

Bulgogi: Thin slices of marinated beef.

Chadol: Thinly sliced non marinated brisket

Deungshim gui / Anshim gui: Non-marinated sirloin and tenderloin respectively.

Dweji bulgogi: Marinated spicy pork. Often not served as standard in restaurants, more common in diners.

Samgyeopsal: Non marinated, salted, thick bacon.

Chicken is not served on the whole; it is seen as “non-Korean” and is very much the equivalent of eating burger and fries in a high class restaurant.

Drinking

Standard etiquette rules for drinking apply, in that drunkenness and excessive drinking are extremely poor etiquette. However, it is important to know a few other points regarding drinking at a Korean barbeque. The first is the well known rice liquor “Soju”. Extremely common, and similar in taste to vodka, it can very quickly catch up with a drinker and lead to embarrassment. When a guest at a private barbeque, it is quite common to be offered lots to drink, and to take part in a drinking ritual. This involves the host emptying their glass, handing it to you and filling it. At this point you are expected to drink it, and continue the movement of the glass.

Company

When eating in a restaurant, you will find that you will not be allocated a specific server, nor will this server return to the table to check everything is ok. This is considered impolite, and because of this, a bell is normally provided to get the attention of any server. It takes some adjustment to overcome the traditional Western impoliteness of ringing for assistance, but it is expected and preferred.

When eating at a private barbeque, depending on the company, you may find yourself in an extremely cultural experience. You must always wait for the host or hostess, or if applicable, the oldest person or the guest of honor. Usually, the host will take the first bite, but sometimes will nominate another. Once this first bite is taken, all other guests may begin eating.

While a Korean barbeque is a very different way of eating, ranging from cooking your own food, to age old traditions held for generations, it offers an opportunity to eat exceptional food, experience great culture and generally enjoy a first-class dining experience.

What to Eat at a Regular Restaurant when You’re a Vegetarian

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With so many people today accepting Vegetarianism and Veganism as part of normal society we are seeing more and more accommodations on menus. Even Burger King, a large fast food chain, has added a veggie burger to their menu.

However, if you are a vegetarian you know that it can be hard to find a healthy, filling meal when you are out to eat. At most places you can order a salad, but that becomes boring after awhile. If you do find something you think sounds tasty on a menu, but it has bacon bits or pieces of ham in it, you can always ask for the cook to keep that part of the recipe out. Some restaurants will even be happy to create a special item for certain customers.

There are some restaurants, mostly sit-down places, that even specialize in vegetarian items. In the St. Louis, Missouri area there are salad-bar restaurants called Sweet Tomatoes. They have a main salad bar and hot bars where you can get pasta, soup, breads, and desserts. Items non-vegetarian are marked so you don’t accidentally eat any of it. They have a “theme” every month where they create a new dish around a certain ingredient like lemons or strawberries, so you can always try something new. I loved eating there because I never left hungry and could get items catered to my diet.

Although, we all know that in many fast food restaurants don’t see vegetarians as a customer base, so when are families choose to eat there we end up with a side salad and french fries. Not the best choices. When my family goes out to eat they know about my diet so they choose a general restaurant where I can get something to eat other than salad. It’s often best, especially in large families, to choose a restaurant that has a large menu with a variety of dishes and entrees.

If you are really set on restaurants paying attention to the growing need of the American people you can always fill out a complaint or compliment form online or in the restaurant. Simply suggest they had a few vegetarian-friendly items to their menu. If you continue to do this, eventually the company will listen. Just don’t give up hope!