Catawba Students Learn that Manners Matter
December 14, 2015
By Madalyn C. Liefert '18, a Catawba Business Administration Major
Manners matter at any age, at any time, some Catawba College students learned recently at the annual Manners Matter dinner held December 1 in the Hurley Room on campus. The event, hosted by Robin Perry, Director of Career Services, tapped the resources of two of Salisbury's manners experts, Catawba alumna Shari Graham '83 and her longtime friend and colleague, Henrietta "Hen" Henderlite, both of Salisbury.
Catawba students were invited to "dress to impress" and enjoy a free dinner catered by Chartwells while learning about proper dining etiquette. Faculty and staff served as the wait staff for the evening, including Dr. Pam Thompson, Dr. Tom Appenzeller, Dr. Kenneth Clapp '70 and Jennifer Board '03 from Career Services and C2C.
The evening began promptly at 6:00 p.m., emphasizing one of the primary etiquette rules about punctuality and being on time. Around 25 students arrived, and listened to the brief yet educational talk on exactly what every plate, utensil, and glass at a place setting was used for when dining in a formal setting. Some of the students realized, perhaps for the first time, that the bread and butter were special enough to be assigned both a plate and a knife.
After reviewing what to do with a menu, which is not always picked up from the table, the students dispersed to predetermined assigned seats noted by place cards. This allowed them to see both familiar and new faces at their table.
One of the highlights of the evening, in the opinion of several of the females in attendance, was the action of the male students pulling out the chairs for them and then standing up every time a female got up from the table, or even just approached the table. These gestures of curtesy are shown more infrequently in today's society than in the past, the students realized.
After guests were seated, drinks were served to the women first, and the ripping of the bread piece by piece began.
Sophomore Ethan Chirico stated that "the dining advice was good to know, and could come in handy one day."
As the tomato basil soup was served, students learned how to hold the spoon, scoop the soup out of the dishes, and bring it to their mouths, all in the proper manner.
Moving on to the leafy greens, a salad was served. All began eating, cutting the salad and laying the knife across the back of their plate, trying to cut and eat cherry tomatoes in the most polite way they could. Freshman Trevor Williams and several others do not like tomatoes, and even they learned the correct way to appropriately share food with others at the table if necessary.
The main entrée arrived - Tuscan Grilled Chicken with artichokes, Green Beans Almandine, and Wild Rice Pilaf. With it, Graham and Henderlite taught the students both the American way and the European way to eat the food, allowing students to practice both ways.
The American way was a bit tedious, with the students having to cut one piece of food at a time, put the knife down, switch the fork to the right hand, and then eat the one bite that has been cut before going back and starting over every time. While eating the European style definitely had everyone confused at first, but proved a bit more time efficient. The knife and fork are held for the entire time, still cutting one bite at a time, but the fork is held upside down and with food being pushed onto the back of the fork using the knife, before bringing it to the mouth. It seemed crazy and a bit confusing, but it was very efficient. Halfway through dinner, it was apparent that some students, mostly the males, just wanted to eat and European style went a little faster.
Dessert for the group was chocolate mousse with peppermint, and the students were even able to share the whipped cream if some didn't like it! Ron Stewart, a senior, gladly took someone's whipped cream, after it was placed on his bread plate for him, following proper etiquette.
All in all, the Manners Matter dinner was a success.
Sam Reeder, a sophomore, said he enjoyed learning skills he may need in the business world without having to figure these out once he's in the business world. Although for some who attended it was one of the most stressful dinners they had eaten, they agreed they learned more than they would have ever imagined about fine dining.
Career Services hosts the Manners Matter dinner each year to provide students with a chance to learn proper dining etiquette – "skills they need to help them succeed in life after college," said Robin Perry.
"Knowing the rules at meal time interview can make a difference," she adds. "We like to do what we can to give Catawba students the edge when they hit the real world, and manners do matter."