The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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The joint event allowed students to indulge in a meal while practicing proper etiquette.
Torch Photo / Isabella Cautero

The faculty lounge of St. John’s University’s Sun Yet Sen Memorial Building was transformed into a five-star restaurant on April 9 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. With placemats, polished glasses, gently folded red napkins scattered across the tables in the room and an abundance of silverware, the stage was set for the exclusive experience called “Dining Etiquette,” attended by 50 students. 

The “mock interview” event allowed students to learn how to properly eat a formal meal during a professional interview while practicing networking skills with fellow St. John’s students throughout the two-hour-long event.  

“Dining Etiquette” was put together by Ellen Burti, the director of advising at St. John’s University Career Services. Although she was unable to attend the event because of a last-minute arrangement, Cheresa Fewell, the associate director of Career Advising for the Tobin School of Business and Amber Wilson, the director of First Year Mentoring, swiftly took her place to keep the event running. 

The event was a joint partnership between the mentoring program, known as the R.I.S.E Network, and the University Career Services . It was the first time that R.I.S.E participated in the event. According to Wilson, the initiative was to make sure that students had the opportunity to become more comfortable in professional dining settings, such as award ceremonies or interviews. 

“[Career Services] has done it in the past,” Fewell continued, “But this was our first joint collaboration, and it was a really good run.” 

Fewell began the night with an introduction of the host of the evening, Elizabeth Schwind, an expert on dining etiquette who has been running this particular event for seven years. She currently works as a community relations manager at St. Joseph Hospital and Mercy Medical Center and has been in the dining industry for the past 23 years. 

Schwind took the students through a complete four-course dining experience, starting with side salads and ending with an apple pie. 

Torch Photo / Isabella Cautero

She began the event by showing students some of the basics, such as how a proper table is set up, and which forks and knives to use first – reminding them to always go “out to in.” As the food was being served she simultaneously taught the students some of the more unknown dining rules. 

“This isn’t your last supper,” Schwind kept reiterating. There is no reason to scoff down your food or take two helpings at the buffet table while sitting through an interview with a potential employer. 

As students prepared to eat each course, including a small pasta dish and roasted chicken, Schwind continued to give advice. 

“Don’t start eating until everyone at the table has gotten their food,” she reminded the students who sat at tables of either four, five or six people. “If you don’t like your meal, pretend it’s the best thing you’ve ever eaten in your entire life.” 

For a good rule of thumb, find a meal that is in the middle of expensive and cheap. In other words, don’t order the lobster, but don’t settle for a small salad. 

All tips that were highlighted throughout the dinner were printed out for students to take home with them at the end of the event. The extensive list covers everything from where the proper place to put your handbag is, to telling someone that there’s something in their teeth in the most polite way possible. 

Throughout her time with the students, Schwind emphasized the key point of the event, “first impressions are lasting impressions.” 

At the end of the evening, Fewell spoke about how the students stepped up their game and tested their skills throughout the evening. 

“It was a learning environment,” she said. “Even for the students who came in late, the people at their table took the time to show them what to do. The whole collaboration part, the energy in the room was positive.” 

Juanita Apple, a first-year student at St. John’s had some experience with etiquette training before the event, but only from the service side. 

“I definitely appreciated being on the other side [of dining] and interacting with all of my tablemates,” she told The Torch. 

“If someone is inviting you to a restaurant then you really want to make sure you’re catering towards their expectations of you, and not trying to overdo or oversell yourself, but being your best and most respectful self,” Apple continued. 

From start to finish, the chatter throughout the room never stopped. Schwind said she hadn’t seen such engagement since before COVID-19. 

“It was so interactive,” she said to The Torch after the event. “This group was so amazing with their questions. They had a lot of great feedback as each course came out, and I really believe they learned something.”

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About the Contributor
Isabella Cautero
Isabella Cautero, Sports Editor
Isabella is a senior journalism major serving as the Sports Editor for The Torch. She is minoring in sport management. Outside of The Torch, she works as an academic tutor at the University Learning Commons. She likes to spend time with her friends, read, play with her dog and watch the New York Rangers or Yankees. On any given day you can find her listening to her favorite artists, Taylor Swift and Harry Styles. Isabella can be reached at [email protected].
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  • A

    Anthony CauteroApr 11, 2024 at 6:44 pm

    Great experience!