Course in etiquette provides finish to WCCC education

Posted April 28, 2009, at 8:02 p.m.

CALAIS, Maine — When dining in a restaurant, should you eat chicken with your fingers? Should you break your bread into small pieces before eating? Should you wait until everyone at your table has been served before starting to eat?

The answers:

No to eating chicken with your fingers, yes to breaking your bread into small pieces, and yes to waiting until everyone is served.

The answers to these questions of etiquette were part of the annual Dining Etiquette 101 course held Tuesday at Washington County Community College. The object: to make sure that when students go out into the business world, they are prepared to handle everything, including the right fork.

The course is a collaboration of the business and culinary arts programs.

More than 40 people dined on chicken and caramelized pumpkin and cream bisque soup with homemade croutons, jumbo shrimp on a base of red rice with red and green sauce, whole rock Cornish hens, and for dessert puffed pastry cream horn.

The main theme was that eating correctly is important, but don’t let it ruin your meal, culinary arts instructor Marie Emerson said Tuesday. “Wine, dine and act fine,” she said.

And there is more to learn.

First impressions are lasting and sometimes it’s the only opportunity someone has to do it right, added business studies department instructor Rhonda French. She handed out a sheet on the dos and don’ts of dining etiquette.

When introduced to someone, make sure you make eye contact and offer a firm but painless handshake. Table manners are a true test of an individual’s “social skills” and “level of sophistication,” French said in her handout.

Emerson’s culinary arts students came up with the menu. Before planning the meal, she said, she challenges students to think about food that is a challenge to eat, such as pasta or chicken.

French said her students looked forward to the annual meal and testing the principles they had learned.

In addition to the meal, the business studies department last week held a two-day Dress for Success program. Clothes donated to the college were given to students so they will have the proper dress for their first job interviews or their first day on the job.

“That was remarkable this year,” French said of the Dress for Success venture.

When the doors opened, she said, 30 students were standing in line waiting to get in.

In addition to donated business clothes, Calais Regional Hospital arranged a medical scrubs drive for nursing and medical assistant students. After the students made their pick of the clothes, people in the community were invited in to choose as well.

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