Knowing Your Utensils

Dining is one thing but knowing your utensils when dining is another thing too.

Did you know that on average, there are about 15 utensils (including the napkin) in a fine dining table setting? It may sound crazy having that amount of utensils just for eating but each utensil serves a specific purpose!

Let me guide you in knowing your utensils as well as positioning for proper dining etiquette.


  1. Napkin - meant to remove food and drink from the mouth, and they also can be used as a protection for clothing while eating, by placing on your lap.
  2. Salad fork - located on the left of the plate-smaller fork used to eat salads and greens. Some restaurants may not have a small fork for the salad. The fork may be the same size as the entrée fork.  You would then use the fork farthest from the plate to enjoy your salad.
  3. Entree fork - located on the left, directly next to the plate-bigger fork used to eat the main entree i.e. meats and rice or anything that is placed on your entrée plate, which is the largest course-largest portion of your meal.
  4. Salad plate/soup bowl - specific plate/bowl for salads and soups
  5. Entrée plate - bottom and biggest plate where the largest portion of your meal is placed. Some would say, it’s your dinner.  However, it is the entrée. Your dinner is the entire experience.
  6. Entrée knife - located on the right directly next to the plate, knife used to cut foods on your entrée plate.
  7. Soup spoon - located on the right of the knife, bigger spoon used for liquid meals mostly soup
  8. White Wine stemmed-glass - located on the right above the tip of the knife, a separate glass for white wine
  9. Red Wine stemmed-glass - located on the right above the tip of the knife next to the water goblet, a separate glass for red wine
  10. Water goblet stemmed-glass - located on the right above the tip of the knife next to the red wine glass, specific glass for water or juice only
  11. Dessert fork/Cake fork - located at the top of your plate with tines facing the right, used for eating pastries or pie
  12. Dessert spoon -  located above the dessert fork with the bowl of the spoon facing the left, specifically for eating dessert that requires scooping, i.e. ice cream, pudding, etc.
  13. Bread plate - located at top left - a smaller plate where bread is placed
  14. Butter knife - located on the plate with handle facing the right- smaller knife with serrated blades to spread butter, preserves, etc. on to the morsel of bread as one enjoys.
  15. If you’re having fish, a fish knife will be placed next to your entrée knife on the right.

Table Placement

Course meals

  • 1 Course meal – expect a main course only.
  • 2-Course meal – expect an appetizer and a main course, or a main course and a dessert.
  • 3-Course meal – expect an appetizer, a main course, and a dessert course.
  • 4-Course meal – expect an appetizer (soup), another appetizer (salad), an entrée, and dessert.
  • 5-Course meal – expect an appetizer,(soup), another appetizer (salad), an entrée, dessert, and a cheese course or coffee/tea/cappuccino, etc. .
  • 6-Course meal – expect an appetizer or hors d’oeuvres, a soup course, a fish course, a salad course, entrée, and a dessert course.


As you can see, each utensil serves a specific purpose! Knowing your utensils is very important to have a good impression and is part of proper etiquette. But I also understand that for most cultures this does not apply and a simple fork and knife, or spoon, or even barehand would suffice.  Etiquette protocols depend on the culture.

Nevertheless, it is always very good to know about these protocols in case we are invited or even host a formal event!

What do you think?

We always emphasize how learning new things will always be part of life and no one can take it away from us. From The Inside Out School of Etiquette teaches etiquette to children and adults. Many topics are available including dining etiquette, which is called Table Etiquette & Protocol. You will be prepared for when you need it.

If you want to know more, we have paid videos and FREE videos for you. We also have an intensive 5-Week Masterclass conducted by the owner, Jackie Vernon-Thompson live via zoom, if you ever want to be a Certified Etiquette Consultant and teach in your area and virtually! This is for everyone globally and we will try to help and educate as much as we can.

Our classes are conducted virtually and in-person for children and adults.

For any of your inquiries, reach us at info@fromtheinsideoutsoe.com, call us at 9548706414. Visit us at www.fromtheinsideoutsoe.com


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