The Training Restaurant, Silver Service and Napkin Folding!

We have recently installed a new display in our research room cabinet that features items from our collection of restaurant silver, used either in the Training Restaurant at the University of Surrey, or at our predecessor institution Battersea Polytechnic (renamed Battersea College of Technology in 1957). The display also includes photographs and publications relating to the Department of Hotel and Catering Management.

Silver service as practised in upmarket restaurants and hotels, up to the last decade of the 20th century, was all about the ‘show’ and experience of eating out, with presentation and service being of upmost importance. The Hotel and Catering Management courses at Battersea and Surrey taught these silver service skills and with this in mind we decided to recreate a traditional style table setting for a silver service four course meal. The meal would have featured a starter of soup, followed by a fish course, the main course and a pudding/dessert or a savoury/cheese course.

To help us ensure that we accurately recreated the place setting, including a napkin folded in a single Dutch bonnet style, we enlisted the help of Harriett Nailon, who is one of our amazing volunteers. Harriett, whose name you might recognise from our Heritage Open Day Edible England blogs, studied Hotel and Catering Management at the Battersea College of Technology from 1963-1967 and has vast experience of working in the hospitality sector.

Harriett kindly gave up her time to help us identify the appropriate cutlery and to place the items in their correct positions. As she also showed us how to fold the linen napkin in an appropriate style, we thought we would share the folding instructions with you rather than keeping the secret to ourselves!

Napkin folded in the style of a single Dutch bonnet.

The stages of folding the napkin:

Start with an unfolded napkin, ideally it should be freshly laundered and ironed on both sides.
Fold in half and then half again.
With the folded edge at the top, fold the left-hand side in by about a third.
Hold the opposite corners.
Bring the corners together, tucking the top left-hand corner underneath itself to create a cone shape and bring the bottom right-hand corner over the top.
With practice this is the shape you should get!
Keeping a tight hold of what was the right-hand corner, fold the bottom edge of the napkin upwards.
Hopefully this is what you will have ended up with.

Good luck and happy folding!