We don't blame you if you feel a little bit of nervousness every time you get invited to a formal dinner party. More often than not, there's a fork that should only be used for salad, a spoon that's strictly for desserts and a knife that shouldn't be used for anything other than to eat the entree. Talk about confusing. 

Or maybe you're the one hosting the party but you have no idea what your table setting should look like if you're serving pasta for dinner! 

In this blog, we'll map out how a formal dinner table should be set out and which piece of cutlery should be used as you go through the meal. We'll also point out what kind of cutlery works better for different dishes so you can always be prepared.  

Soon, this will become second nature to you and you won't have to worry about whether or not you're using the correct silverware

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Work your way from the outside in

Okay so it might seem a little confusing when you sit down (like there's so much cutlery in front of you?!?) but generally, all you need to remember is that you should always work from the outside in. 

Forks are always on the left, starting with an appetiser/salad fork and ending with a dinner fork. If there's only one fork on your left, it's safe to assume that there is no appetiser/salad fork and this should be used for your main course. 

The right side of your plate gets a little trickier. On the right side there will be a knife you use for your main course, an appetiser or salad knife, a spoon, a soup spoon and then on some (really fancy) occasions, there might be an oyster fork.  Your dessert spoon or fork (or both) will be positioned at the top of your plate, usually next to your water glass.

Of course not every dinner party you go to will have all of this cutlery (thank god) but it's worth learning the basics when it comes to etiquette. 

How to set your table

Put your newfound knowledge to the test  

Trust us when we say that you don't want to have learned the formal uses for the cutlery you see in front of you but then not know how to use them correctly! 

Starting off, always place your fork in the hand you normally eat with, then use the knife in your other hand. 

When eating soup, make sure to pick up the correct spoon (see image above) and  start scooping the soup from the middle of the bowl, sweeping away from you. Try not to slurp soup from your spoon or tilt or lift the bowl to eat it. Yes that means you should resist the urge to lift up your bowl to get the last remaining mouthfuls (even if the meal is really delicious). 

Extra information that's helpful to know 

It's important to note that not every gathering is a formal one, so on some occasions it will be perfectly acceptable to eat with your hands if you're having lamb chops for dinner (in fact, it's encouraged) but it's also important to remember to use basic manners in all situations. Here are some other things you should note: 

  • Don't gesture or point using your utensils 
  • Don't call attention to an etiquette mistake you or someone else around you has made
  • Put down your cutlery before picking up your drinking glass 

The correct cutlery to use for....

Pasta 

When pasta is served on a plate or in a shallow bowl (spaghetti), it's expected you use a fork to eat it with, however if it's served in a deeper bowl (ravioli) then you should use a spoon. 

Now for the age old question of whether you should wrap the pasta around your fork or if you should cut it up before eating. It all depends on the pasta length and the width. If it's quite long and wide, then it's acceptable to twirl it around on your fork. If it's a bit shorter in length then you just stick to cutting it up a bit more and eating it with a fork like normal. 

Why not try out our amazing Caesar Spaghetti for dinner tonight and put your pasta eating skills to the test! 

Rice

There is some debate about whether or not you should be eating rice with a fork or with a spoon. 

One the one hand, a table spoon will hold more rice, especially if it's sticky rice or coconut rice but it's impolite to put a large amount of food in your mouth at the one time. Then on the other hand, the tines of a fork make it easier to pick up rice but then it depends on whether you're eating rice off of a plate or out of a bowl. 

We suggest you stick with using a fork to eat your rice if it's presented on a plate and then use a spoon if it's served in a bowl. You really can't go wrong. 

Dessert 

Like we mentioned above (and in the image pictured), the dessert spoon and fork should be placed above your dinner plate and next to your water glass.

Once the main meal has finished, and you're getting ready for dessert, slide down your fork (to go on the left hand side of your plate) and your spoon (to go on the right hand side of your plate). In some instances you might even be provided with a dessert knife, this should go next to your spoon on the right hand side of your plate. 

Depending on the dessert that's being served, you might not have to use all the cutlery available to you. If you're eating a soft dessert, you must always use a spoon and leave your fork for any garnishes such as berries etc. 

Desserts like pies, cakes, pastries and any dessert that's served with ice cream can be eaten with either or both a dessert fork and spoon. 

Why not dig into our wonderful White Chocolate & Cream Tarts?

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