Table setting (laying a table) or place setting refers to the way to set a table with tableware—
such as eating utensils and dishes for serving and eating. The arrangement for a single diner is
called a place setting. The practice of dictating the precise arrangement of tableware has varied
across cultures and historical periods.
A Variety of Service Style Options
Reception Service. Light foods are served displayed buffet-style on a table. Guests usually
stand and serve themselves. They normally do not sit down to eat. These type of events are
sometimes referred to as a “walk and talk.” Food is “finger food” and/or “fork food.” It is
inappropriate to serve food that requires a knife or is difficult to eat while standing.
Butlered Hors d’ Oeuvres Service. Food is put on trays in the kitchen and passed by
servers. Guests serve themselves, using cocktail napkins provided by the server. This is a typical
style of service used for upscale receptions. This style of service is only appropriate for “finger
Buffet Service. Foods are arranged on tables. Guests usually move along the buffet line and
serve themselves. When their plates are filled, guests take them to a dining table to eat. Servers
usually provide beverage service at tableside. A very elegant buffet would have servers carry
guests’ plates to their tables for them.
Action Stations.Similar to a buffet. Chefs prepare and serve foods at the buffet (rather than in
the kitchen). Foods that lend themselves well to action station service include wok stations,
mashed potato bars, fajitas, pastas, grilled meats, omelets, crepes, sushi, flaming desserts and
spinning salad bowls. These stations are sometimes called “performance stations” or “exhibition
Cafeteria Service. Similar to a buffet. Guests stand in line, but do not help themselves. They
are served by chefs and/or servers from behind the buffet line. This is a way to control portion
sizes. Sometimes the inexpensive items, such as salads, will be self-service, and the expensive
meat items will be served by an attendant.
Plated Buffet Service. Selection of pre-plated foods, such as entrees, sandwich plates and
salad plates, set on a buffet table. They may also be placed on a roll-in (a i.e., rolling cart or
table) and then moved into the function room at the designated time. Because of individual
plates, trays are usually used. This is a particularly good idea for groups who want to continue
“working” meals while they eat.
Plated (American) Service. Guests are seated. Foods are pre-portioned in the kitchen,
arranged on plates and served by servers from the left. Beverages are served from the right.
Used dishes and glasses are removed from the right. This is the most functional, common,
economical, controllable and efficient type of service. However, if foods are plated too far in
advance, they could run together, discolor, or otherwise lose culinary quality.
Family-style (English) Service. Guests are seated. Large serving platters and bowls are
filled with foods in the kitchen and set on the dining tables by servers. Guests help themselves
from a lazy Susan or they pass the foods to each other. Occasionally, a host would carve the
Pre-set Service. Food that is already on the dining tables when guests are seated. Since preset foods will be on the tables for a few minutes before they are consumed, you must pre-set only
those that will retain sanitary and culinary qualities at room temperatures. Most common are
bread and butter, but often the appetizer will be pre-set as well. For lunches with a limited time
frame, occasionally salad and dessert will be pre-set.
Hand Service. Guests are seated. There is one server for every two guests and all guests at a
table are served at precisely the same time. Servers wear white gloves. Foods are pre-plated and
the plates are fitted with dome covers. Each server carries two servings from the kitchen and
stands behind the two guests assigned to him or her. At the direction of the captain or maitre d’
hotel, all servings are set in front of all guests, and their dome covers are removed, at precisely
the same time. This procedure is may be followed for all courses. This is a very elegant style of
service that is sometimes used for small gourmet -meal functions. This style is sometimes called
“service in concert or synchronized service.” Here is a video I took of a variation, where instead
of the whole room, each table was served at the same time.
The Wave. This is a 'quick and dirty" method of serving where all servers start at one end of
the function room and work straight across to the other end. Servers are not assigned
workstations. In effect, all servers are on one team and the entire function room is the team’s
work station. The wave is typically used in conjunction with plated and pre-set service styles.
Large numbers of guests can be served very quickly, usually using less labor. It does not provide
individualized service for attendees.
Service styles play an important role in the success of a catered event. Clients can choose those
that may be less expensive (such as pre-set), or can splurge with French or Russian service.
Furthermore, some service styles (such as action stations) are very entertaining and can
contribute significantly to guest satisfaction.
For variety, you can mix service styles during a single meal function. For instance, you might
begin with reception service for appetizers, move into the banquet room where the tables are
pre-set with salads, rolls and butter, use French service for the soup course, use Russian service
for the entree, and end the meal with a dessert buffet.
There are basically two types of breakfast offered in hotels and restaurants. The Continental
Breakfast and the English Breakfast. The Continental Breakfast originated in Europe. It is a light
meal as the Europeans normally have a heavy mid-day meal. The English breakfast is heavy and
is a major meal of the day. A traditional English breakfast runs into six or seven courses.
Consists of bread rolls or toast with jam, honey, or marmalade and rounded off with tea or
coffee. Better hotels may serve brioches and croissants.
Is more elaborate and offers a choice of juices (or fresh or stewed fruits), cereals, fish course,
choice of eggs, meat course, toast with jam, marmalade or honey, and finally, tea or coffee.
A centrepiece is an important item of a display, usually of a table setting. Centrepieces
help set the theme of the decorations and bring extra decorations to the room. A
centrepiece also refers to any central or important object in a collection of items.
On the table, a centrepiece is a large central object which serves a decorative
purpose.A nef of precious metals made in the shape of a ship was a popular form in
the Middle Ages and Renaissance. However, centrepieces should not be too large, to
avoid difficulty with visibility around the table and to allow for the easier serving of
Other centrepieces are often made from flowers, candles, fruit, or candy.
Centrepieces are a major part of the decoration for a wedding reception, being used
widely at wedding receptions with flowers being the most popular form of centrepieces.
Weddings, baby showers, engagement parties, anniversary parties and birthdays often
have some form of centrepiece.
Formal functions in Europe can sometimes have very elaborate centrepieces, which can
span the entire length of the table.
At holiday times, including Valentine's Day, Easter, Halloween, and Christmas, homes
are often decorated with holiday centrepieces.