Students, faculty partake in etiquette training session

By Charles Bush
March 19, 2009

On Thursday, Feb. 26, 35 Cabrini students and faculty members took part in a mock business dinner at the Cabrini mansion, Dining For Success. The event was run by Cabrini’s associate professor of business administration John Heiberger and history professor Dr. James Hedtke.

The participants attended hoping to learn proper etiquette and new strategies for attending that important business dinner. All participants received a five-star full-course meal provided by the Cabrini dining services staff. The menu included exquisite cuisine such as shrimp, chicken, scallops and rabbit. Participants also received their choice of two desserts and a chance to taste four different wines.

“It was very good; it was French and different, especially the rabbit,” Rachael Renz, sophomore business major, said.

However, food wasn’t the only reason people showed up to the event. The participants learned a number of techniques and hints to impress future employers.

Some of the recommendations, for example, were when at a large dinner table make sure you sit in the middle rather than at the head, because you can mingle and create more contacts.

Another recommendation was how to act when confronted with an unreadable menu. Heiberger spoke of how you should simply ask the waiter how to pronounce a certain dish and stressed that you ask what’s in it, because the dish may contain something you’re allergic to.

“I learned a lot of things that I can use in the business world, I definitely got a lot out of this,” Renz said.

Heiberger also gave other tips. One tip was not to put condiments on your food before trying it, because it shows that you’re unwilling to try new things and you aren’t optimistic.

Another tip was how to order. “Ask the host if he or she recommends anything, and if the host recommends the lobster or something expensive then you know it’s ok to order something high-priced. On the other hand, if the host recommends something less expensive, then it would be a good idea not to order something expensive,” Heiberger said.

An obvious one was not to answer your cell phone during dinner. Another was to be open to try anything, he also recommended not to cut the bread, just rip it, another suggestion was not to apply makeup at the table. He also recommended not to have certain messy dishes like spaghetti or certain soups.

While Heiberger did the majority of the dining teaching, Hedtke did all of the wine discussions.

Hedtke described in detail the proper way to sample a wine. He recommended to first swirl around in the glass, then smell it and then finally take a little sip to get the taste.

Hedtke also described how to receive a wine at a restaurant, how to deny drinking or refills by placing your hand over the glass, and how to order wines in relations to your meal.

Hedtke explained the origins of all the wines that were present at dinner and how much the bottles would cost in the restaurants or in retail. Hedtke then capped off his session with “don’t be a wine Nazi!” He also suggested not to order wine for the whole table, because everyone has different taste.

“I’ve been doing this event for years now. I just want people to enjoy wine,” Hedtke said.

All the students at the event were able to get a true taste of fine dining, wine and proper interviewing strategies that in the future will give them that little edge over the competition in regards to landing a job over dinner.

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Charles Bush

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