Monday, July 12, 2010

Rules for Eating Utensil Placement

In the Dear Julie section of, a question was recently submitted about the placement of eating utensils. “Where are the utensils placed during and after a meal?”

As I had responded to the “anonymous” writer, the rules of dining etiquette are simple and finite. They clearly signify a brief pause in eating or the end of a delicious meal. Using proper dining etiquette ensures that the place setting, tablecloth and person’s lap stay clean throughout the meal. Therefore, used utensils should never be placed on the table.

Soup bowls are often brought on flat plates, which is where the spoons should be placed when the portion is complete. According to, the same is true for position of spoons for tea and shrimp cocktail forks.

When taking a break between bites, the fork should be placed on the left side of the plate and the knife on the right. This is because when one uses the knife and fork, the knife is held with the right hand (to slice), while the left hand holds the fork (to keep the the food in place).

If you would like a second helping, put the fork and the knife together on the right with the handles facing towards you. This will make room on the plate for another portion of food.

When finishing a delicious meal, Chef Albrich will tell you that the knife and fork should be placed parallel to each other with the handles pointing to the right. Jennifer Maughan will remind you to place them more towards the center, so they don’t fall off the plate when removed by a server.

Teaching children the three tricks to utensil placement will ensure that the social skills become an innate behavior. Children will not have to think about how to behave properly: they just will. They can teach their friends, the word will spread, and you will no longer have to worry about flying utensils when servers clear your place setting.

If you have an etiquette question, it can be answered for you! Go to the Dear Julie section of the website. All questions are anonymous; all tips are free!

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