The real meaning of ‘all you can eat’ at a buffet

The real meaning of 'all you can eat' at a buffet
An online search of the definition of the word ‘buffet’,  included:

a meal where people serve themselves different types of food

a meal consisting of serveral dishes from which guests serve themselves

a meal set out on a buffet or table for ready access and informal service

Opting for a buffet breakfast, buffet lunch or buffet dinner has become a popular option. The idea that one can indulge and help themselves to as much food as they fancy seems to be quite appealing to many.

Nonetheless, having the liberty to serve yourself to as much food as you want doesn’t warrant a ‘do as you please’ approach. There are proper etiquette guidelines that one should follow to avoid coming across as rude and ruining the buffet dining experience for other patrons.

Tips to be observed for an enjoyable buffet experience, for yourself and others:
  1. Before deciding to have a taste of everything have a look around the selection of food and help yourself without over indulging. Knowing where the food items are will help you serve yourself in the proper sequential manner.
  2. The plate need not be full as you can have a second trip to the serving dishes if the first round was not enough.
  3. Reaching over someone while they are serving themselves or cutting any line, is rude. Queue in the same direction as other patrons, and be patient.
  4. Take a fresh plate with every visit to the serving station. Waiting staff will ensure that your table is cleared between these visits.
  5. Always use the service utensils to serve yourself and never touch the food with your hands.
  6. If you are with children, dedicate some time to teach them proper buffet etiquette. Tables set up for children sometimes include sweets which can be quite a challenge to control the amount they serve themselves. Nonetheless,  stuffing small bags with sweets, thinking it is fine because they are children, is a big no.
  7. As you will be leaving the table many times, the napkin should be placed on the seat of your chair. This indicates that you will be returning to the table.

Those were a few tips guiding you to enjoy buffet dining.

As always – indulge!  Just do it, the proper way.

Ramona Galea

Ramona is an International Etiquette Coach and an avid believer of the importance these soft skills have nowadays. This passion kicked off from a young age when she questioned why elbows couldn’t stay on the table and her inquisitiveness continued and she founded First Class Etiquette, to address the developing need for people’s understanding of the importance of international business and social etiquette. It really is not just about elbows but confidence, attitude, assertiveness and knowing the how, the when and the why we do things. Amongst her hectic schedule, her two biggest indulgences are travelling with her family and reading with an Aperol Spritz in quiet surroundings - just being away from it all to de-stress.

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