CALS etiquette dinner teaches students fine dining skills


Sage Smith/Iowa State Daily

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences students converse with each other before the CALS etiquette dinner Tuesday in the Campanile Room of the Memorial Union.

Amber Friedrichsen

Students of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) had the opportunity to refine their etiquette skills as well as learn some new ones at the CALS Etiquette Dinner on Tuesday.

Dressed in business attire, CALS students who reserved their seats a week prior arrived at the etiquette dinner. Chatter among the students and representatives in the agriculture industry as well as live music could be heard after 6 p.m. in the hallways of the Memorial Union, as the event was in the Campanile Room.

Sydney Stender, a senior in agriculture and life sciences education and the first vice president of Sigma Alpha, attended the etiquette dinner to ensure her college was represented.

“I was in charge of making sure we had ten faculty representatives from the College of Agriculture here,” Stender said.

The faculty representatives were scattered among the tables of students. They participated in the etiquette dinner with the students.

After students had time to converse with various professionals, they took their seats at one of the 10 tables set for the three-course meal. Shortly after introductions, students began learning the proper manners for the dinner table in a distinguished setting.

Caleb Bartling, a sophomore in agricultural studies, attended the dinner event. Bartling said he hoped to learn proper etiquette, dinner techniques and professional networking skills.

Keynote speaker Jan Brown, book associate for the Bookstore, began the dinner by identifying the rules of silverware. 

“You are going to start with the outside fork. That is the fork that you are going to use with the salad,” Brown said.

Silverware is important when it comes to table etiquette.

“If it’s served on a plate, you use a fork. If it’s served in a bowl, you use a spoon.”

To transition from the salad course to the main dish, Brown said to indicate the dishes are ready to be cleared from the table “You want to bring your silverware together” and set it on the dish they are finished with.

Sophomore in dairy science Hayley Jackson also participated in the etiquette dinner and gained many takeaways from the event.

“[I’m going to take away] dinner conversation, what to say to your host and following their lead,” Jackson said.

An important aspect of a professional dinner is the conversation that takes place. Brown stressed the importance of an initial handshake and maintaining good eye contact.

When speaking with representatives of a company, Brown said, “do your homework ahead of time and make sure that you know something about the company.”

This allows the student to show interest in their potential future employers.

“You also need to realize that you need to have small talk too,” Brown said.

In addition to professional conversation, Brown said students should remember to relax and remember “this is a fun time. It’s not going to be all business.”

Although the night was all about being dignified, Brown made sure to add in some humor. She noted the challenge that diners face with cherry tomatoes.

“There’s no good way to eat them. So you would just leave them,” Brown said. “You cannot be assured they are not going to squirt.”

The night wrapped up with casual conversation among the students and faculty members. More tips were shared on how to make the best impressions and be the most confident diner possible.