About the Chapters


Gloria Petersen Press Photo

Gloria Petersen, Author

The Art of Professional Connections:

Dining Strategies for Building and
Sustaining Business Relationships







Who taught you how to set the table? For me, it was my grandmother. She always insisted on a properly set table. If I accidently placed the fork on the right or the water glass on the left, it had to be corrected before anyone was seated. I never understood what the “big deal” was until I started dating. I was nervous enough when my date took me to a “fancy” restaurant. Knowing the basic rules of the table helped me tremendously. Do you remember your first date fancy restaurant experience as a teenager?

Having six children, my mother often resorted to buffet style dining. All the hot foods were kept in their original pans on the stove and the cold selections were placed in bowls on the kitchen counter. Utensils, dishes, and napkins were stacked at the beginning of the line. Sometimes, she placed all the food in large bowls in the center of the dining table “Olive Garden” restaurant style. Then we passed each dish, took our portion, and enjoyed the meal. And we followed grandma’s training for positioning utensils and water glasses.

Both of these disciplines helped prepare me to enjoy meals away from home. However, when I encountered formal dining with glassware and utensils that went beyond the typical water glass, knife, fork, and spoon, I knew I needed more training. So I attended classes to learn this skill set. Not everyone gets all the training they need at home. The skill set required to go from casual to formal dining venues with ease is an important attribute for anyone.

1 Restaurant

The objectives of this chapter are …

  • To understand the rules, guidelines, and expectations when organizing or participating in business meals, both casual and formal;
  • To realize that superior people skills are required to gain the competitive edge and establish successful partnerships; and
  • To recognize that for a “master diner,” proper dining etiquette is always putting others at ease and understanding how to blend traditional and modern approaches to dining.

Knowing is the first step to becoming a “master diner.” The master is always thinking ahead and knows how to read his or her guests’ comfort level. He or she understands every aspect of dining decorum and can flawlessly handle the most complicated table settings with ease. This chapter will get you started.


When you feel awkward or you are taken out of your element, does it affect your table discussion or thought process? Most people would reply yes. If you reply no, the next time you meet a client over a meal and the table setting or order of service is different from what you expect, you might rethink that answer.

I recall the first time I attended the Protocol School of Washington’s training in 1991. I thought it was just going to be preliminaries for me because I had experienced casual to formal meals on several occasions. However, when we were served our first seven-course meal with four wine pairings (soup, fish, entrée, dessert), I was lost. Plus, there was this strange looking knife (e.g., fish knife) and the utensils were in an unusual order (e.g., Continental-style service). My level of sophistication started a downward spiral. I was paying more attention to my discomfort than participating in valuable table conversation with my classmates. Not good! This experience inspired me to research and to learn more about the various styles of dining in different venues and cultures.

Before you conduct or participate in a meal meeting in a formal setting (here or abroad), there are definitely some “must knows” that will help you tremendously.

2 PlaceSetting

The objectives of this chapter are …

  • To familiarize you with all of the components of a table setting, from plates and glassware to a wide variety of utensils;
  • To identify the different eating styles and how they are properly engaged or mastered; and
  • To offer suggestions on how to minimize unnecessary interruptions in your table service.

When the meeting is in a formal environment, there are “must knows” that will help you navigate flawlessly so that you can focus on the goal of the meeting, enjoy a wonderful meal, and get the contract. This chapter covers it  all in detail with examples.


Several years ago, I was at an upscale restaurant with a gentleman friend and could barely eat the huge portion of food that I received. I asked for a carryout bag (also known as a doggy bag). My gentleman friend let me know later that he did not appreciate the request. It suddenly dawned on me how it looked to be so dressed up and carrying what was obviously a carryout bag with my leftovers. Yes, it created an awkward moment, but I was glad to be saved any further embarrassment at a future dinner. Clearly, the carryout bag did not go with my attire and, furthermore, I should have asked his permission since he paid for the meal.

Have you ever wondered just how this “doggy bag” habit started? Shortly after World War II, Lawry’s The Prime Rib restaurant and steakhouse in Beverly Hills, California, started allowing their patrons to take the leftover bones home for their dogs. Then the trend evolved into taking leftover food home for the next day’s “people” meal. Doggy bags have evolved from the classic aluminum swan to a logo imprinted carryout container for marketing purposes. Should you request a doggy bag? Probably not at a business meal. Even on a personal date, the decision of requesting a doggy bag should be a careful one. However, if you are out with family and friends, it’s not a problem.

3 Manners

The objectives of this chapter are …

  • To provide an overview of dining courtesies. How you treat people is a strong indicator of your people skills and your sensitivity to the enjoyment and needs of other diners;
  • To address basic table etiquette and manners to guide you through those “what to do when” moments. Demonstrating your confidence and ease with dining decorum will position you as a confident and classy diner; and
  • To offer sound advice for how to cover “what if” moments.  Mishaps and embarrassing moments invariably occur, no matter how thorough the planning. How you handle them is the key to a successful turnaround.

This chapter covers numerous types of mishaps or dilemmas and guides you in handling awkward or challenging moments as you demonstrate courteous table manners. You name it; it is covered!


Have you ever worked in a restaurant? If yes, you learned the value of building a relationship with each diner because it had a direct reflection on your tip. My son and my daughter’s first job was in Rosati’s Restaurant and Pizza Carryout. It was a great place for them to learn and apply lifelong, career enhancing, people skills.

Once I realized (early in my career) how important it was for me to establish my own comfort level in formal restaurants, I joined a private club, and it was an entirely different world from my casual dining habits. My membership afforded me the opportunity to learn the inner workings of the club and the service protocols, and I gained a whole new appreciation for the profession.

4 Staff

The objectives of this chapter are

  • To understand differences between public and private eating establishments;
  • To distinguish how restaurants adjust service based on the type of establishment and the number of courses served;
  • To understand the role and responsibilities of the restaurant staff; and
  • To explain similarities and differences in tipping protocol and how to use tipping to your advantage.

This chapter is based on established behind-the-scenes protocols and also serves as a wonderful training guide for a restaurant’s staff.


Have you ever been handed a corporate card and told: “Here, take our client out to lunch while we put the final touches on the proposal”? Many times there is no discussion as to the degree of formality, and no other instruction has been given to boost your comfort level when meeting the expectations of the client or guests.

This happened to a client of mine.  He tells a story of being asked to entertain international guests from Venezuela without a briefing. So he took them to his favorite beer and sandwich pub thinking they would love the “American” experience. It backfired! When his company visited Venezuela they had been entertained at the best restaurants, and the Venezuela management team expected the same treatment. Instead of enjoying the experience, they found it degrading. Do not let this happen to you. It is not about you; it is all about what the client or guests wants-or expects-to experience.

5 MenuCheck

The objectives of this chapter are …

  • To familiarize you with all the crucial details, from first making the appointment to mastering the business meal protocol;
  • To explain how to communicate your purpose when securing the appointment;
  • To demonstrate how to select a dining venue that is appropriate to you goal;
  • To teach you how to handle reservations, confirmations, and cancellations flawlessly; and
  • To inform you on the strategies of seating arrangements, courtesies toward guests of honor, and guidelines for paying for the meal.

Every possible phase of arranging or attending a business meal (which includes all the “what ifs”) is covered in detail in this chapter.

Chapter 6:  “LET’S DO LUNCH”

How often have you heard someone say, “Let’s do lunch,” and then nothing happened? It is a popular phrase, but it only has value when you follow through. We all mean well at the onset; then “busy-ness” takes over and the lunch initiative is forgotten. Have you ever been invited to a “power lunch,” but then were not quite sure what made it so different, so important? Or, have you had the experience of being scheduled for an interview meal but did not realize how much your table manners and “social-ability” were part of the interview process?

Writing this book has certainly helped me to realize that there is more to a business meal engagement than eating. The meal can be as simple as a meeting over coffee or as elaborate as a formal business lunch. Whichever the case, there is a process involved that helps you achieve a productive meeting. 

6 Lunch

The objectives of this chapter are …

  • To demonstrate how building relationships from the moment of arrival, through the entire dinner conversation, and selling yourself properly will move you toward your goal, whether it be getting hired or securing a major deal;
  • To provide an introduction to the hidden or unwritten rules that influence any and every business meal decision; and
  • To reveal the secrets of power dining: it’s all about establishing your clout and influence, but there are rules to follow, manners to display, protocol to honor, and most of all, game plans.

This chapter will take you from setting up the appointment to bonding and building trust, from the start of the meal to the finish, whether it is a casual lunch, interview meal, or status dining.



Have you ever been invited to a coffee café or fast-food eatery-type restaurant by someone who wanted to do business with you, but when you arrived (right on time, or even a little early) you felt like it was a “no show?” This has happened to me more times than I care to recall. After waiting ten minutes beyond the appointed time, I would stand in line and place my order, wondering if perhaps I had come to the wrong location. Then, finally, my appointment not only shows up but orders nothing!

Coffee shops and fast-food eateries present a wonderful and inexpensive way to have brief meetings; however, they are also places of business. By using these cafés or eateries for meetings and not ordering, you risk sending a self-serving message that you would not hesitate to abuse a privilege. Is this the message you want to send? Always order something when you invite someone to meet you at an eatery!

7 FoodCourt

The objectives of this chapter are …

  • To identify the various types of fast-food options and how to not abuse their usage;
  • To offer steps on how to navigate a buffet line, including formal buffets;
  • To offer steps on how to avoid the pitfalls of “grab-and-go” eating when multitasking requires eating to accommodate one’s work; and
  • To provide a briefing on proper behavior, courtesies, and personal responsibilities for special occasion banquets.

This chapter will take you from food courts to celebration banquets.


We drink beer; we sip wine.

Early in my career, I was taught to select white wine with fish and poultry and red wine with pasta and red meat. This was supposed to make it easy . . . a no brainer! Now I  have to decide between dry, fruity, earthy, slightly dry, sweet, or slightly sweet wines. It can be mind-boggling to try to understand all the variations of wine. Furthermore, while some wines are identified by region, others are identified by producer and by grape. You guessed it! It is no longer easy and, depending on the spice level of your food, sometimes beer makes the better pairing.

You also have to consider things like the type of glass, the acceptance ritual with the wine steward at your restaurant table, and last but not least, the five flavor points on the tongue with which should you experience the wine. Whew! Is that over the top, or what? So I consulted with sommeliers, wine and beer connoisseurs, and other beverage experts, and with their help I wrote this chapter to make it as easy as possible for you not only to make the right selection, but also to impress your client with your wine knowledge and confidence.

8 Toasting

The objectives of this chapter are …

  • To emphasize the responsibilities associated with drinking alcohol;
  • To explain the role of food pairings in alcoholic and nonalcoholic selections;
  • To raise your comfort level when selecting wine, participating in wine tasting rituals, and purchasing wine as a gift; and
  • To teach you all the elements of the time-honored ritual of toasting, and the special element of ceremony and recognition it adds to a business meal.

This chapter will take you from beverage and food pairing to toasting with class and finesse.


How often have you been invited to dine at an ethnic restaurant only to encounter breads or sauces you didn’t recognize or a menu that made you feel like you needed a translator or an interpreter? It has happened to many of us at one time or another. You are trying very hard to look savvy and order confidently but you have no idea what to order, or even what you just ordered! Sound familiar?

My first “deer in the headlights” look while dining happened when I was a guest of a client at my first East Indian restaurant experience. The minute I was seated I was lost. I did not know what to do with the flat bread and condiments. Nor did I know how to select the least spicy condiments. My client suggested the buffet instead of the menu, and again I was lost as I tried to be adventurous but not go beyond the comfort level of my taste buds. I found myself focusing more on my confusion than on the business conversation.

Then there was the incident when there was a jalapeno hidden under my Chicago hot dog! Did I mention that I have a low tolerance for spicy hot foods? Choking, and with my eyes watering, I felt like my throat was closing up. My first instinct was to grab for a glass of water. Wrong move!  Read on to learn what to do.

9 Ethnic

The objectives of this chapter are …

  • To provide an understanding of and increase your sensitivity to the cultural differences encountered in ethnic dining;
  • To increase your awareness of the need to experience ethnic dining locally before entertaining a guest or client from another culture; and
  • To offer insights into a sampling of ethnic experiences, in particular Chinese, East Indian, and Mexican.

This chapter addresses the three most popular ethnic restaurants: Chinese (contributions by Jason Wong and Chef professor Bill Sy)East Indian (contribution by Simriti Chaddha Ranajee), and Mexican (contributions by Randall Ling and Sergio Gaona). Visit the team of experts page to learn more about our cultural dining contributors.


GLOSSARY: Menu and Restaurant Language

Here’s the scenario: You are feeling confident and self-assured as you greet your client for a luncheon (or dinner) meeting at a sophisticated restaurant. Then the menu arrives and your confidence diminishes! If you are not proficient in English, French, Spanish, and Italian, you may be in trouble when trying to understand the terminology of sophisticated menus. Furthermore, the influx of ethnic restaurants has made comprehending these menus even more important. And then there is the wine list and the cordial cart!

Every time I encounter a menu that challenges me, I ask the restaurant for a copy or I go online to view their menu. (Of course, I try to always check out menus before meeting clients at a new restaurant.) Next, I look up each term in Webster’s dictionary, do a web search, or ask a chef to explain the course, and then I would file this research in a folder. This has taken years! When I decided to add these terms to my book, I engaged the assistance of culinary and ethnic food experts to update and add to the list so it can be as comprehensive as possible. (In some cases, I researched and included the phonic pronunciation to more unfamiliar or challenging menu terms.

The main objective of this chapter is to help you get beyond menu phobias. A glossary of over 300 descriptions for food and wine are outlined in this chapter. This is a “must have” dining prep guide and serves as a great “cheat sheet” when dining out of your league or comfort level.


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