Some of the contestants and the author at Crown Perth, Western Australia...wearing beautiful Linney's Pearls
It was a wonderful surprise to recently have my company, The Percy Institute of International Protocol, invited to enter a partnership with The 2015 Miss World Australia pageant which is being held in Perth, Western Australia in August this year. My role is to coach and mentor the contestants on the various aspects of modern manners which will enable them to enhance the experience of representing not only their State but also perhaps their country.
In my coaching role...
A few weeks ago I first met the young ladies who come from a diverse range of backgrounds. They were looking forward to enjoying the experience and personal development which entry in the pageant promised, some of them more confidently than others. I spoke with them about grooming and personal presentation, deportment, modern manners, and dining etiquette in both formal and informal circumstances.
Two weeks later the pageant was launched and the same young ladies were presented to the pageant sponsors and partners at a very glamorous event. I was so proud to see the changes in the contestants; their self confidence had risen enormously. The ladies are supported by a number of people coaching them in the arts of makeup and pageant grooming, communication and multimedia skills and more.
The 2015 Miss World Australia Western Australia pageant launch
I have been asked regularly which of the components of my coaching the ladies have most embraced; it is without doubt the dining etiquette detail. Which leads me to once more comment on the table manners of the judges on one of Australia's most watched programmes, particularly now in final's week, Masterchef Australia.
In 2011 I wrote a post, Masterchef Australia...and table manners...or not? commenting on the shocking table manners showed by the judges of the competition. Four years later, one particular judge still licks his knife blade when he wants to relish a sauce and one of the other holds his utensils like garden tools.
The Percy Institute regularly receives clients who request the dining etiquette course not only for private reasons but as an important inclusion in corporate training. The general age of the clients is from the early 20s and they all comment that a knowledge of appropriate table manners is still very necessary.
Many of the fastidious and rather unnecessary components of formal dining etiquette are no longer applicable, unless dining in an extremely formal restaurant. I remember being caught out some years ago when dining at the beautiful Restaurant le Meurice, Paris. The amuse-bouche was served on a tiny porcelain artichoke shaped plate the size of an artichoke leaf. As I checked the numerous pieces of cutlery already presented on the table I could find nothing which I thought related to this exquisite offering. I requested information from our waiter who informed me that this morsel should be eaten from the tiny plate as if one was eating an artichoke leaf!
Restaurant le Meurice Alain Ducasse, Paris
While our lives tend to be less formal, and with many homes in Australia no longer designed with dining rooms, for many the habit has become to either eat only food which can be managed with the fingers, or perhaps a fork. When confronted with a range of utensils at a restaurant, for example, the lack of skill creates not only confusion, but often panic.
The Masterchef Australia programme is an excellent one which I watch whenever possible (and if not, it is recorded for later viewing) enjoyed by many families. I think it is a shame that, when tasting, the judges do not show regard for the correct way in which to use the utensils which complement the dishes they are experiencing. They are experts in their field and I would like to see them also as role models for modern table manners.