Do you know the difference between Continental and American-style dining? Thought not. Winston Jenkins does, though, and she can tell you.

For a mere eight dollars, students were treated to a four-course meal and a wealth of information about “gracious dining” from mannersmith.com’s Ms. Jenkins. The event, sponsored by the Office for College Advancement, was intended to prepare even the most bumbling of college students for a strictly business power meal.

Students were given their first challenge with soup, the first course. Skills learned included the proper way to scoop the soup and even the proper etiquette for its consumption. This proved somewhat difficult, as most college students’ dining experiences are limited to chowing down without thought to manners.

Second was salad, and holding your fork the European way proved to be a little tenuous when croutons were involved. Everyone managed these two courses well while Ms. Jenkins gave tips for every possible embarrassing situation ranging from flying food to mistakes in drink accessory usage. She also discussed some gracious dining history, such as the reason why salt and pepper shakers are passed together – salt used to be scarce, and it was impolite to directly ask to use it.

Next up was the main entre, which challenged students with menu items including the ever-difficult rice. Everyone appeared to avoid any dining faux pas. Jenkins also threw in anecdotes about her experiences with “high net worth clients” and gave advice on dining graciously when facing them across a table. A meal, she said, is the secret test of your character, culture, verbal skills, grace, background and personality.

Last, mousse was served for dessert, which was prepared in a tricky chocolate shell. Skills, however, broke down a little when our speaker’s back was turned.

The dining experience proved to be an overwhelmingly good time, and Jenkins did a more than satisfactory job of helping those in attendance feel they could handle any culinary conundrum, escaping with dignity and a well-made impression. Cheers.

Linden can be reached at klinden@campustimes.org.



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