Food Service Etiquette | Food Passing Etiquette | Bread Passing Etiquette | Meal Etiquette | Tips To Note When Passing Food


During service of a formal dinner, the food is brought to each diner at the table.

The server presents the platter or bowl on the diner’s left.

At a more casual meal, either the host dishes the food onto guests’ plates for them to pass around the table or the diners help themselves to the food and pass it to others as necessary.

Depending on the event or meal being served, the type of table service will vary.

Formal dining at restaurants will be different than at a buffet or catered wedding reception, but all service types aim to serve patrons quickly, efficiently, and with great care.


Guests serve themselves from large platters presented on the dinner table. Dishes and trays are then passed from the left to the right. Servers will generally be present for the beginning and end of the meal to set up and then clean up the table

Serving the Table

Most upscale dinners will include 5 courses, encompassing an appetizer, soup, salad, entree, and dessert.

Many formal restaurants practice the open hand service method, which means that a server’s arms are never to be crossed in front of a guest, and food is always served from the guest’s left side.

Plates should be rotated when being served so the protein of a dish is facing the guest, as opposed to a vegetable.

Tips To Note:

  • Ladies are always served first
  • Never eat, drink, or chew gum in front of guests
  • Always exhibit proper posture- Do not slouch, cross your arms, or leave your hands in your pockets while on service
  • Press uniforms to eliminate wrinkles, creases, and make sure they are free of stains or excess food.
  • Only use employee entrances and exits during formal functions
  • Do not engage in informal conversations with guests


Pass to the right (if the item is not being passed to a specific person).

One diner either holds the dish as the next diner takes some food, or he hands it to the person, who then serves herself.

Any heavy or awkward dishes are put on the table with each pass.


If the loaf is not cut, cut a few pieces, offer them to the person to your left

Then pass the basket to your right.

Do not touch the loaf with your fingers, instead use the cloth in the bread basket as a buffer to steady the bread as you slice it.

Place the bread and butter on your butter plate (usually on your left)

Break off a bite sized piece of bread, put a little butter on it, and eat.

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