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June 15, 2011 4:53 PM

The Careerist: Tips for Lads Who Lunch, The Sequel

Posted by Vivia Chen

While dining at New York's Casa Lever recently, I spied a summer associate at the next table. He was with two older lawyers--who appeared to be partners. They were chatting away about the personalities at work and the summer arrivals. Nothing earth-shattering, but I thought this guy more than held his own. He talked about everything from his Midwest childhood to the political situation in the former Soviet Union--all with remarkable poise and ease. He seemed smart in a nonshowy way.

He got my vote for an offer. Until the waiter brought the food to the table.

He had ordered pasta (tagliatelle Bolognese, I think). But once everyone was served, he picked up his fork and knife and quickly slashed the pasta into a series of bite-size servings.

I don't know how his companions felt about this display of efficiency, but I was horrified.

So, it's time for our seasonal refresher on table manners. Though I wrote about business meal etiquette last year, it bears repeating--especially with you summer associates running loose. So here's my latest list of table etiquette:

1. Know the BMW rule: Bread plate to the left, meat in the middle, and water to the right.

2. Start with the utensils farthest away from the plate (usually the salad fork).

3. Do not clutch utensils as if you're about to chant, "We want food!"

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