Last summer, I spent a month in France with four of my best girlfriends, but it only took us a day or two to realize that our eating habits weren’t quite up to par. At one point, I licked the gelato clear off my ice cream cone and onto my dress, much to the chagrin of the shop owner. He took one look at me, shook his head, and said “like a child.”
The phrase soon became the slogan of our trip. And goodness knows we used it plentifully. During one particular low point my girlfriend tried to pass me a bite of her ravioli and the whole thing plopped into my wine glass. Like a child. But though it makes for a funny anecdote on a podcast, it’s anything but in business.
No one knows this better than Mireille Guilliano. The former president and CEO of the famous French champagne house Veuve Clicquot (my personal favorite) and the author of Women, Work, & the Art of Savoir Faire, Mireille says that table manners are the first thing she looks for in a potential job candidate—and it is for this reason that she always hosts interviews over lunch.
So I thought it was time that I finally set the record straight. How do I host a successful business dinner, luncheon, or interview? And what is the proper way to eat using modern manners? I called etiquette expert Diane Gottsman and had her walk me through the art of a successful business dinner. Here’s what she had to say.