Festivals

What does your cutlery say about you? How positioning a knife and fork on a plate tells everything



A picture speaks a thousand words and so too does the way you arrange your cutlery.

So during the festive season, when there is usually an influx of dinner plans made, it pays to know where your knife and fork should be placed on the plate – and what it’s telling your guest.

From lying them side by side to placing one on top of the other, Eat Drink Play spoke experts who work at some of Sydney’s finest establishments to get the down-low on the dos and don’ts of cutlery.

If you’re taking a break from the food in front of you but don’t want to simply hold your cutlery in your hands, placing them in an upside down V position (as shown)

1. ‘I am not finished’

If you’re taking a break from the food in front of you but don’t want to simply hold your cutlery in your hands, placing them in an upside down V position or leavingthe knife resting on the top of the plate indicates to your waiter that you’re not finished yet.

Most people would naturally adopt this position, or rest both knife and fork on the outside of the plate, but that tends to look quite messy and has the potential to fall off the dish.

In an effort to keep the tablecloth clean, try either one of the first methods.

Or having the knife rest on the top of the plate indicates to your waiter that you’re not finished yet (pictured)

2. ‘I am finished’

When most of the food has been eaten, or you’re too full to continue, put the knife and fork in the centre of the plate in a parallel.

This is a silent indicator to your waiter that the plate should be cleared from its position in front of you.

The cutlery should be facing the twelve o’clock position but so long as they are parallel on the plate this is enough of a message.

When most of the food has been eaten, or you’re too full to continue, put the knife and fork in the centre of the plate in a parallel (pictured)

3. ‘I am ready for my next meal’

Just finished your entree and looking forward to the main course? X marks the spot with this approach which will see you place the knife in a cross formation underneath your fork.

The fork should point vertically and the knife should point horizontally in this way.

If you have eaten all of the courses than the ‘I am finished’ position should be adopted at this time.

X marks the spot with this approach which will see you place the knife in a cross formation underneath your fork (pictured)

4. ‘The meal was excellent’

Why not show your guests and host that you really enjoyed your meal by signalling with the utensils in front of you.

Place your knife and fork horizontally across the plate with the blade and tines pointing right to do this.

It’s also a sign that you’ve finished with the meal and its contents.

Place your knife and fork horizontally across the plate with the blade and tines pointing right to do this (pictured)

5. ‘I did not enjoy the meal’

Instead of taking the meal back to the kitchen in the off-chance you didn’t enjoy it, leave a lasting impression with your cutlery.


The correct etiquette for indicating you didn’t like the meal is to place your knife’s blade through the fork’s tines in a V.

It’s very similar to the ‘I have not finished’ cue so make sure you observe the difference.

The correct etiquette for indicating you didn’t like the meal is to place your knife’s blade through the fork’s tines in a V (pictured)

6. ‘I know what fork to use’

When presented with a number of items of cutlery, indicate you know how to handle the situation by starting with the outermost utensils.

The utensils on the outside are the ones you use first, and the last course will be the pair of utensils closest to your plate.

Asking will win you no favours at the dinner table.

When presented with a number of items of cutlery, indicate you know how to handle the situation by starting with the outermost utensils (pictured)
One of the key learnings to note is that crossing your knife and fork in an X on your plate is a huge ‘nightmare’ (as shown)

One of the key learnings to note is that crossing your knife and fork in an X on your plate is a huge ‘nightmare’.

It’s not easy for the waiter to pick up your dish without losing a utensil to the floor and looks crass on the plate.

Also refrain from licking your knife or using your cutlery to gesticulate at other guests. (By MATILDA RUDD)

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