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Professional dining etiquette program gives students ‘hands-on’ experience

Professional dining etiquette program gives students ‘hands-on’ experience
Terri Thompson, a business and social etiquette specialist from Paris, Ky., discusses the difference between different types of spoons in formal dining situations during a profes- sional dining etiquette program in the Badgett Academic Support Center. (Campbellsville University Photo by Kaitlyn Fowler)

By Gerard Flanagan, news writer/photographer/social media, Office of University Communications

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. –A first impression can make or break someone’s chances of landing a job or promotion.

With that in mind, Campbellsville University Office of Career Services hosted a professional dining etiquette program recently in the Badgett Academic Support Center (BASC) Banquet Hall.

According to Teresa Elmore, director of career services, the event had a total of 46 participants.

“This event allowed students to learn ‘hands-on’ dining etiquette rules – especially important prior to graduating and beginning job interviews with prospective employers,” Elmore said. “Sometimes second interviews take place in a restaurant, so employers can predict how this person will represent their company in social and professional situations if hired.  This event allows students to learn and practice.”

Terri Thompson, a business and social etiquette specialist from Paris, Ky., was the speaker at the event. During her presentation, Thompson went over several rules for dining etiquette.

Thompson said, in a buffet setup, the main objective is to keep the line moving.

“If you can’t decide if you want the chicken or the ham, get both and move on,” Thompson said. “You can always go back for more, but it’s rude to hold up the buffet, trying to make a decision.”

At a table of eight people or fewer, people should wait until everyone is seated before eating, Thompson said. At tables with more than eight, people don’t have to wait, Thompson said.

People should place their napkin across their lap, according to Thompson.

“This napkin is used throughout the dining process,” she said. “You’re wiping your hands, blotting your lips. It should be soiled by the time tonight is over.”

Identifying the table place setting, is also important, according to Thompson, since there are specific utensils used for eating soup and salad.

Thompson said eating in either continental or American style is fine, but people should stick to one or the other.

“Commit to either continental or American style, and don’t mix in between,” Thompson said.

Thompson said dining is an integral part of American culture.

“It’s so instrumental in our culture,” Thompson said. “We eat together. We share stories. No matter what you do with the next step of your life, someone, down the road, will take you to lunch or dinner, and I want you to have that part down pat.”

Rachel Muterambabazi, a freshman from Rwanda majoring in P-5 education, also learned several new things from the dining etiquette.

“I learned things I didn’t even know,” she said. “This will help me on job interviews.”

Brandon Bagwell, a senior from Nashville, Tenn. majoring in mass communication with an emphasis in digital media, said he learned the proper way to cut food and other dining etiquette rules he didn’t know before attending the event.

“There was a lot of stuff that was very beneficial, especially when going to a formal dinner,” he said. “Just the overall order of things, because there’s a lot of order that went into this etiquette event. These are things I really haven’t experienced myself.”

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 12,000 students offering over 100 programs of study including Ph.D., master, baccalaureate, associate, pre-professional and certification programs. The website for complete information is