Ah, the infamous Buffet Line. We’ve all been there, especially at many business events and Lunch N Learns. But is there such a thing as Buffet Etiquette? Of course there is. “Manners” may not be the first word that jumps into your head, but it does exist and helps us look good while refraining from doing the don’ts in and after the buffet line.
A lot of the business luncheons and events that I have attended use buffets. There are also some people who have objections or phobias about eating at a buffet, but they can’t refuse when the boss is buying. So, the next time you have to attend one of these business luncheons and/or events, here are some basic Buffet Etiquette Rules to follow:
- Be Patient. There is always going to be that one person in front of you that takes their own sweet time loading their plate as if they were molding Devil’s Tower in Close Encounters. Just take some deep breaths and know that you are getting your food quicker than if you were ordering it.
- Don’t complain. Complaining about the food, the movement of the line, or that they are not refilling the chafing dishes quickly enough, can come off as rude to the people standing next to you. Complaining won’t move that line any quicker. In fact, it may slow it down. Don’t engage in Buffet Rage!
- Use the serving spoons. Please…….use the serving spoon. And when you use the serving spoon, put the spoon or tongs on the plate below the chafing dish. Don’t mix the serving utensil in with other food. Some people may not like green beans mixed in with their mashed potatoes. My grandfather always said, “Well, it all goes to the same place, doesn’t it?” but I don’t think a lot of people think that way. Sorry, Grandpa.
- Don’t eat in the buffet line. This really needs no explanation. There are so many things wrong with eating in a buffet line that there isn’t enough room on the page.
- Don’t overload. We’ve all seen this. And it’s just so darn attractive, isn’t it? Seeing a pile of food fall to the floor, awaiting the next person to come along and step in it is a real treat. See Devil’s Tower.
- To-go container. Asking for a to-go container is a definite don’t! I have seen people do so, taking two and three meals home with them. Really?!! A Buffet is NOT an all-you-can-eat bar.
- Please & Thank You. Three words with fourteen letters that carry a great deal of weight. Please and Thank you are never used too much.
- Tip 10%. If you are in a restaurant where there is an opportunity to tip and it is a buffet, 10% is appropriate.
- When to start eating. Wait until at least four people around you have been seated before eating. In some cases, tables will be released to the buffet line. In this case, most of the people at your table will be sitting down at the same time. Try to be respectful and wait for about four other guests to sit down before you start to dine. You don’t want to be the first one to the table and dig in as the others sit down. You definitely stand out in the crowd when you wait for others to be seated around you. Believe me, they notice!
- Don’t Double Dip. If you are at a casual function and there is a vegetable tray or chips with dip, please put the dip on your plate with a spoon and then dip.
Buffets are part of business dining today but just remember these tips and you’ll always Outclass the Competition.