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A Brief History of Silver-Service Dining

>> May 26, 2012

Despite the fact that it has been around for hundreds of years, unless you eat at high-end restaurants or live in an affluent household, you may have never experienced silver-service dining. For generations, upper class British people have been elaborately served in a style known as silver service, which has become the benchmark of fine dining across much of the world. The following is a brief history of silver-service dining.

What Is It?
Silver service is a form of dining where the food is brought to your plate, rather than being plated in the kitchen and then brought to you. Food is served by the waiter from the diner’s left side. It is generally served with a fork and a spoon, or two forks. The waiter or server uses the utensils to create a pincer-type action for transferring food to the guests’ plates, usually from a large silver dish or tray.

Silver service is also known as English service or butler service, and originates in the country manors and high-class estates of England during the 17th and 18th centuries. Silver service is thought to have evolved out of the practise of giving waiting staff Sunday evening off, meaning the butler was required to serve the food instead. Usually, Sunday dinners would have consisted of leftovers from a big Sunday lunch. The butler would go from guest to guest, serving them from a larger platter directly onto their plates. This type of table service became popular in high-end restaurants and at fancy functions and is still used in many top-class restaurants to this day.

Silver service has always been taught in hotel school, and while it is not exactly a common style of dining, silver service is still a feature of modern-day hospitality training. For those who want to go into high-end restaurant or catering work, being proficient in silver service is mandatory.

The biggest benefit is for those being served, as they feel special having the food served right to their plates. However, it also makes bringing food to the table a little easier for the waiter. If you are hosting a dinner, silver service can also be a sneaky way to control portions of food, so that you can ensure there is enough to go around.

While you shouldn’t expect to see silver service offered at your local cafe anytime soon, there has been a gradual move back towards silver-service dining in restaurants catering to the middle and upper classes. As a way to offer an extra-special dining experience, silver service remains a timeless classic, and will likely continue to be a fixture of high-end dining for years to come.

Silver service has a long and impressive history at the dinner tables of the upper classes, and is a great way to make a dinner an extra special occasion. If you are planning a lavish wedding or special celebration, think about the waiting service you will be providing for your guests. When you are booking your marqueehire, it is worth also exploring the catering services that event hire companies offer. Providing silver-service dining is sure to give your guests an experience they will never forget!

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