“The Formal Dinner”

Formal SettingHave you ever attended a real formal dinner?  I have learned that most of us have not, unless you have experienced evening at the Queen’s table.  The term “formal dinner,” Americanized by the historically prominent Lady of Etiquette, Ms. Emily Post, does not mean “stuffy” as most might think; it means structured!  She said in her 1923 book of Etiquette, “The higher the level of structure, the higher the level of service one will experience,” and this is where I entered the eloquent venue of Formal Dinners.

Starkey International began thirty years ago and I have hosted 12 formal dinners a year as part of our Household and Service Management curriculum.  It has become a tried and true art form for us.  I consistently have “Run the Table” over the years and have tried almost everything.  We finally emerged with our current educational guide on Entertaining including tableware and settings, flowers, service timing and styles, entertainment, culinary menus, wines, conversation, apparel, and yes, only at the queen’s table, our mirrored service.  

Where did the term etiquette come from?  Why are fish knives the only pointed knife still at table?  What are the international table service signs for “I am resting” or “I am finished”?  Which etiquette matriarch taught us to utilize the Zigzag method of holding our flatware as opposed to the internationally accepted Continental style?  These basic etiquette terms and to-do’s are not just old guard, diplomatic modes of behavior; they literally bring a level of graciousness to “receiving service” at table.  That is, “eat with confidence the great culinary delights, drink and appreciate the rare wines that have been precisely married to the foods, fully experience the intimate interactive relationships at table, and follow the unwritten dance of service.”

Running a Formal Dinner has become a great and joyous experience for me in my travels around the world, whether I have Ted Turner, the Arch Duke of Austria, or you at my table.  It’s the art of sharing the best of the best in food, drink, service, and each other.  Starkey educates her employer clientele on running the formal table, their staff in serving at table; and hosts formal dinners regularly for non-profit and charity events.

Come Join Us!
Contact Mr. Xavier Medecin, Director of Education.

Excerpts of Formal Entertaining Event Planning from the Original Guide to Private Service Management, Copyright 2009

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Starkey Service Management ModelStarkey International is celebrating 30 years in serving the Private Service Industry and has become the expert in teaching the "Relationship of Service." Starkey International teaches how to identify and meet the Service Standards expected by you and your guests.  Starkey has developed and patented the Starkey Service Management System. We turn service into a highly valued asset, where "service" is the product.  We have learned that Service Professionals must be positioned to be successful. Starkey Private Staff Training is customized in content to serve individualized needs.

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Customized Curricula

  • Identifying Service Visions
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  • The Formal Dinner
  • Table Settings and Service Styles
  • Silver Polishing and Care
  • Culinary Meal Planning
  • Marriage of Food and Wine
  • Aperitifs, Digestive’s, and Cigars
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Mary Louise StarkeyMrs. Mary Louise Starkey, B.S. & C.E.O.
President and Founder of Starkey International®

“Service as a Relationship,” Mrs. Starkey, known as the First Lady of Service, has thirty years as CEO of Starkey International® and for professionalizing the Private Service industry.  She is a dynamic and passionate educator, public speaker, and a natural storyteller.  She freely shares her knowledge and mentors clients in identifying and creating “Their Vision for Service!”

Mrs. Starkey provides on-site consultations to Private Estates and Clubs, Luxury Market Hotels and Businesses, to identify their Service Visions, customize their Style of Service, and develop a Service Management Plans.


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