To “service plate” or not to “service plate”


Questions have emerged from customers regarding the proper use of a service plate, the largest plate in a place setting. Hence, I am compelled to share with you a few interesting bits of information about what is commonly referred to today as a “charger”.

The service plate is also known as a buffet plate, charger plate, cover plate, or place plate. Today, it might not even be a plate at all as service plates can be woven baskets, wooden trugs, metal discs, or plastic trays.

Tradition dictates much of our dining etiquette. How tradition starts is sometimes far fetched from whence or why it was started, so today we will touch upon how a hostess and guests should use the service plate for both formal and informal dining experiences.

For formal dining:

In formal dining, one of the dictates of hospitality decrees that there should never be an empty place before a guest at the table. The service plate is then placed in the center of an individual setting before the guests come to the table. It is the picture within the framework of flatware, stemware and napkin, therefore, it is the most decorative plate in the series of plates.

Food is never placed directly on the service plate and it functions as the underplate for an appetizer and/or soup course.

For informal meals:

Today at an informal meal, guests might use the service plate as a large plate to carry all of their food from a buffet table to their place setting and eat directly from it. Even more informally, the service plate might be the placemat at the table. In this instance, thought should be given to the fact that it cannot be made of a slippery surface to avoid the dinner plate from slipping around as diners cut their food.

Here at Past Basket, we are as interested in the presentation of your meal as we are the palatability of your food experiences. Happy dining!