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Old 08-27-2006, 08:57 AM   #1
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When do you seat guests at the table?

When you entertain, do you get the guests to sit down at the table first and wait on the food, or should the food be on the table already, waiting for the guests? The latter results in cold food in my experience!


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Old 08-27-2006, 09:06 AM   #2
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Unless you are serving buffet style, the people should precede the food for exactly the reason you mentioned. Place cards at the table will facilitate getting everyone to take their seats.

OTOH, if you're serving buffet style, make sure all the food is out before you call your guests to fill their plates to avoid unduly long lines.

Hope this helps!

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Old 08-27-2006, 10:52 AM   #3
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Guests should always be comfortably seated before presenting the food. Personally, I prefer to plate in the kitchen rather than serve home style, but either option is fine.
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Old 08-27-2006, 12:13 PM   #4
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To us the guests should always be seated before the meal is served.

Not just for the practical reason that the food will get cold but it gives a few minutes during which the folks can interact. By doing that I feel they form a bond, no matter how temporary, and it makes the meal more fun.

To plate or not, a difficult question.

We prefer not to plate, unless the meal is lobster or for some other reason the food requires it.

As hosts, we have chosen the menu.

The guests have no choice if we plate it.

Aunt Jane may be on a diet and Uncle Jeff may not eat mushrooms.

I do not want my guests to be in the awkward position of having to leave uneaten food because they do not want it, for any reason.

And so I usually serve family style.

Just my preference.
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Old 08-27-2006, 12:47 PM   #5
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Plating depends on what I am serving and how formal it is, I have to say my preference for a small group, 8 or under, is certainly not to, as the food always promotes conversation as people serve themselves/are served and I have bought so much pretty serving ware that I like to show it off, lol.

Yes, seat people first, definitely..so they settle. I remember giglgling rudely but pretty much uncontrolably, partly with nerves, at a dinner party where we started with borsch, as everyone sat down trying not to disturb the bowls of pure dye onto the table or the carpet below....inevitably somebody failed....women need time to find somewhere to stow their handbags if they have brought them to the table, (why are so women afraid to leave their purses/bags on friends'sofas?) and its awkward to be one of the first seated oer a tempting plate of even cold food if some people are taking ages to get seated!
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Old 08-27-2006, 12:55 PM   #6
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For family dinners I usually always do family style for the same reasons that Aunt Dot mentioned. Because they're not in the restaurant, they don't know exactly what they're getting and I don't know how much each person will eat of which item so I just let them serve themselves.
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Old 08-27-2006, 12:59 PM   #7
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If you are eating at my house you are family, so you will eat family style. I might bring out dessert already plated if you eat all your green beans.
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Old 08-27-2006, 11:41 PM   #8
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My guests and my food seem to make it to the table at the same time. We never do really formal dinners though. The guests are always good friends and as mudbug said " if you are eating at my house you are family"...so get in here and help carry things to the table.
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Old 08-27-2006, 11:47 PM   #9
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If it's formal, they'll all be seated first. Summertime, outside, it's big bowls on the table. Inside, winter, it's still big bowls on the table. Or, we may help ourselves in the kitchen, then go into the dining room.
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Old 08-28-2006, 01:27 AM   #10
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I normally serve family style too. A couple years ago I used to plate individually, I think mainly because I liked the art of plating and also because I didn't have enough serving platters at the time. In the end I've decided that plating is just too much work and now I do it if it's just for 3 pax at the most. Besides, no offense to anybody but nowadays I just find plating at home just a tad 'pretentious' (-- but this is just me).

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