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SILVER SERVICE – All you need to know

Silver service originated in the upper class estates of 19th century Britain and to this day continues as a practice that brings a sense of class to formal occasions. It is the term given to the skilled serving of food from a platter using a spoon and fork to seated guests at a table, and is a technique requiring much practice and dexterity.

Plates, platters and service cutlery must be spotless and waiting staff should be clean-shaven, with hair tied back securely and wearing clean uniform.


The hot dinner plates are put onto the table just before serving the food, and then the waiters will serve the food from the platters to plate.

Make sure the plates are hot and clean. Use a service cloth for protection. There is usually a signal to say it is time to put plates down and begin serving.

The person to the right of the host should be served first and the host last. Service should then be performed clockwise around the table. One should avoid spilling any food. Keep the platter as close and flat as possible to the guest plate. Be careful not to lean across the guest.


Food is always served from the right hand side of the guest and cleared from the right hand side.

The Order of Main Course as it should be served is:

Meat – in the middle to front of plate

Potatoes – on the top

Vegetables – to the left of the plate.


Likewise, all beverages are served from the right hand side of the guest and cleared from the right hand side.

Single plate carrying is when the plate is held with the thumb over the rim, running along the edge of the plate, with the index and middle fingers under the plate.

Two plate carrying – is when the first plate is held as before in the single plate grip, and the second plate supported by the tips of the ring and little fingers, the base of the thumb and lower forearm.

Third plate carrying is where a further plate can be carried in the other hand.


There are several ways of knowing if a guest has finished their meals and are ready to clear. Universally, one waits for all guests on the table to finish before clearing the table of plates.

The side plates, salt and pepper and butter dish should be removed at this stage too.


The cutlery is placed specifically into position where they overlap, thus not only making it easier to carry, and to help prevent any dropping on the floor, but also making it easier to sort out at the wash up.


If switching to a new wine, switch to a new glass. It is normal to serve ladies first, or the person who ordered the wine. Making sure the label is visible, pour it from the right hand side and fill the glass to two thirds full only. Move in clockwise direction around the table. Then offer water.


This is served after dessert from the right hand side of all guests.

Then ask if cream & sugar is required from the right hand side and give as necessary.


Service may vary but generally follows these same basic principles:

Serve Bread

Serve Starter

Clear Starter

Top up wine and water

Serve main

Clear main

Top up wine and water

Serve dessert

Clear dessert

Serve tea and coffee

June 29, 2017

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