Studio Brunstrum

A Night Out with DEMA

December 12, 2019

Move over Ms. Manners! Susan recently learned the art of place-settings from the Charles McPerson Academy during a night out with DEMA (Domestic Estate Management Association). Put your etiquette to the test below!

Attending a Domestic Estate Management Association (DEMA) meeting at Christofle on Oak Street for an evening workshop with Charles McPherson, of Charles McPherson Associates was a night of finetuning my manners and etiquette. I am a stickler for appropriateness – just ask my children! As teenagers they both received books on etiquette for Christmas and a few times a week during dinner we would discuss a chapter or section. Kelsey attended Red Pine Camp for Girls where she learned table etiquette and I had them both walk around with a book on their head to make sure their posture was upright and not slumpy! And after college, business etiquette has also been a topic of many conversations in our household.

After nearly a decade serving as a major-domo, overseeing more than thirty household staff for one of Canada’s affluent families, he opened the Charles McPherson Academy in Toronto to educate and equip butlers, house managers and house staff to meet today’s service expectations.
A worldwide global authority in the butler and household management fields for private residential, hospitality and customer service sectors and an author of 4 books, Charles gave an overview on the American modern place setting rules and demonstrated how to set an accurate table. I must admit, I thought I was on the set of Downton Abbey as he used his very own “butler stick” to make sure all the pieces in a place setting were perfectly aligned.

Here are just a few tips from Charles that I learned (or maybe had just forgotten):
1. Do you know why the desert fork and spoon at the top of the plate have their handles pointed in opposite directions? When clearing the plate, it is easier for the staff to “pull” down the fork to the left side and spoon to the right side to re-place them while awaiting the dessert.

2. What is the appropriate location for a butter knife on a butter plate? On the top (horizontal)? On the right side (vertical)? Or the left side (vertical)? There is no right answer… it can be in any three locations.

3. How far apart should your forks be from each other? 1”? or 1 ½”? or 2”? Same for knives? 1 ½” is best if the table allows.

4. How many glasses are to be set per place setting? Five. Water, white wine, red wine, champagne and sherry and they should all be clustered to form a diamond with the sherry glass off to the right- think of a tail on a kite.

The venue was the perfect backdrop as Cristofle has been creating and selling silver objects since 1830 and through their “art of sharing” they produce pieces for getting together for a meal, talking over drinks around the bar, adding a touch of beauty through decoration, offering jewelry and accessories as a gift and enjoying moments to celebrate children.

Move over Emily Post and Judith Martin (Miss Manners) – I just purchased all four books:
• The Butler Speaks: A Return to Proper Etiquette, Stylish Entertaining and the Art of Good Housekeeping
• The Pocket Butler
• The Pocket Butlers Guide to Travel
• The Pocket Butlers Guide to Good Housekeeping

Susan Brunstrum
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