As Indians, we’ve always had a sense of aestheticism and for Ami Kothari, it’s no different. Table Styling is something we’ve all probably heard of, maybe even thought about, but never really actually taken seriously. This is also something that most home cooks probably unknowingly do at home anyways when they’re serving up some delicious meals for their guests. Or maybe you like to do it only for your family and a personal audience. Either way, aestheticism comes to Indians naturally, and women in particular.
Table Styling or table setting refers to setting the tableware in a particular style. There are obviously some defaults, but most of these styles come from their specific culture or time period. Ms. Kothari is taking this art to whole new levels with her Table Styling workshops all over India. This not only helps in spreading awareness and increasing the interest in this art but also teaches people about how to get started on a new hobby that adds to their overall cooking and eating experience.
Table styling is an aesthetically pleasing art form that doesn’t get the attention it so sorely deserves. As they say, God is in the details. A Table setting is one such detail often missed out. A large part of planning the perfect party comes down to planning the perfect, with the food itself as the star of the event. But just like everything else, it needs the decor to complement it to create a perfect setting for any occasion. After all, a good dining experience is a blend of both good food and décor.
You can essentially divide table setting into two kinds; formal and informal. Here are a few beginner tips for you to help style your table, no matter the event!
Informal Table Setting
This is more generic of the two. It has a few simple steps and even simpler ways to remember them. A very popular way of designing tables, given by the etiquette expert Emily Post, is using FORKS. No, not the utensil fork, but the mnemonic. “FORKS” stands for Forks, ‘O’ signifies the plate, we overlook the ‘R’; ‘K’ stands for knives (which are kept facing the plate), and the ‘S’ is for spoons. Any drink glass or stemware utensil is placed to the right, mostly above the knife. The napkin can be kept virtually anywhere on or around the plate. This is your basic table setting style that you must keep in mind.
But you probably already knew that! Here are a few other things you can remember for informal table styling.
- First and foremost, always remember why this is an important aspect. A guests’ entire dining experience isn’t only relying on the food, there’s the ambience, the set up for the table, the order of the food, and a host of other things. This is one of those things you have control over, so always go for aesthetics.
- An informal event also entails that the guests are likely to be persons of your acquaintance, which means the entire ambience should go for ‘comfort’ rather than ‘sophistication’.
- Fever utensils are used for informal settings and the serving dishes are already placed on the table. You also have the option of placing a cup and saucer to the right of the spoon.
Here’s an idea of how an informal setting would look. Feel free to add table cloths and probably a vase, but nothing more. When it comes to informal settings, less is more.The same can’t be said for formal settings, which require a little more hard work than informal ones.
Formal Table Setting
This might be the one that’s more difficult of the two. Clearly, setting tables for a formal setting is a daunting task but there are a few simple things to keep in mind.
- First off, remember the FORKS rule is valid here as well. Since it’s the most basic style, it can always be worked around with to make it fancier. However, keep in mind that the table cloth in the formal setting could make, or break the entire setting.
- The placement of utensils, however, can up your setting standard significantly. Depending upon the number of courses of the meal, the utensils are placed; with the utensils for the final meal being placed closest to the plate. You can tweak this as well, for example, you can either keep the dessert utensils above the plate or bring it along with the dessert itself.
- The napkins are kept directly to the left of the forks. You can look up various kinds of folding techniques, ranging from quick and simple ones, to really sophisticated designs. Attend one of Ms. Kothari’s workshops and you’ll even pick up a few tips from there!
- The number of glasses and stemware also increases in a formal setting because of wine or champagne and other drinks, especially if it’s for dinner. The glass is placed on the right, closest to the plate.
- If you’re keen on putting flowers and other decorative items (like candles) on the table, feel free to do so. However, it’s important to remember that the scent should never overpower the food. Scented candles are a big no-no, besides the fact that the candles should only be lit after sundown. It’s only in a few very rare situations that you can get away with lighting candles during the day.This is an example of a formal table setting demonstrated by Ms. Kothari. Notice how everything is picked and placed with sophistication and care.
It’s always important to know that these are the bare minimum. Table styling is a complicated art that changed from culture to culture, festival to festival, and even differs on various occasions and celebrations, such as weddings and birthdays. They also differ based on the day and time of the meal, so these are by no means hard and fast rules. These are a few basic tips for you to get started on being a table styling pro! Attend Ami Kothari’s many workshops held all over India, and you might even pick up a few other tricks and tips up her sleeve.
Hailing from Gujarat with a natural tilt towards aestheticism, Ms. Ami Kothari has always been experimenting with table styling long before she was even aware of the art. With endless love and relentless support from her friends and family, she’s made a career out of it. She now aims to make this art more widespread, and with the number of workshops she’s booked for already, it seems like she’s on her way there! She even conducts workshops for kids and for specific events, so catch her wherever you can next.
Find Ms. Kothari on facebook to get in touch with her and make sure you don’t miss that next workshop!