Thursday, April 14, 2011

Why is the soup in my wine glass? (And other questions of etiquette.)

The waiter brought the soup, a beautiful tomato gazpacho. Yet something was wrong. As each person was served, the well dressed guests at the table became more nervous. The soup was in a champagne glass, and for good measure, a grilled goat cheese sandwich served as a make-shift lid. What in the heck are you supposed to do with that?

Those are the types of questions Ferrum’s graduating seniors faced during the eighth annual Professional Protocol Dinner last night in the Blue Ridge Mountain Room.

Career Services Director Rol Walters figured out a long time ago that knowing which fork is for salad could be the final hurdle for graduating seniors entering the workplace. “These people have spent four years preparing for the job market, and we don’t want them to lose an opportunity if they can’t handle a business lunch or dinner,” said Walters.

So Walters teams up with Jack Sharlowe FMP, an expert on protocol, and Ferrum College Chef Bo Bernard. Chef Bo comes up with gourmet dishes that challenge even veteran business diners, while the Tuxedo clad Sharlowe guides students, staff and local business people through the minefield of potential mistakes.

“No more than two sugars for your coffee or tea, more than that is excessive,” he cautioned. “Don’t salt your food before you taste it. That’s pre-judging.”

Sharlowe also guided the group through the standard rules of how to carry on polite conversation without dominating the table. He gave basic advice on how to place the napkin in your lap, (diagonally and partially folded) and how to place your fork and knife on your plate to indicate to the wait staff that you are resting, but not yet finished with your meal.

Bite by bite, we finished our peanut butter and jelly (sliced grapes on cranberry walnut bread crouton with powdered peanut butter) our cucumber wrapped spring salad, and roasted Chicken Oscar – on the bone – with rosemary risotto. (I NEVER order chicken on the bone in polite company.) For dessert we enjoyed Baked Tart Tatin – a spiral sliced granny smith apple stuffed with caramel cream cheese served on puffed pastry. Beautiful and delicious, but hard to eat without using your fingers.

Oh – and the soup in the champagne glass with the grilled goat cheese? You set the sandwich on your bread plate. Since the soup is in a glass you may drink it or spoon it – making sure to dip the spoon away from your body.

Bon app├ętit.

To view more photos from the evening, click here.

1 comment:

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