Toast & Toast Procedures

Toast & Toast Procedures


Toast Master –  toastmaster is typically charged with the organization of the event, arranging the order of speakers, introducing one or more of the speakers, and keeping the event on the schedule. Such meetings typically include civic events, service organization meetings, and banquets of various purposes.

State banquets are distinguished from others because of the protocol. A state banquet is sponsored by the head of states or other senior diplomatic luminaries. The seating has a head table where the host and chief guests sit.

It is customary for a state banquet to be preceded by a cocktail in a pre-lounge where waiters and waitresses move around with drinks in silver beverage salvers. They also take around canapés that are finger-picked items. The lounge displays a table seating plan with an alphabetical list of guests with assigned table numbers and seats. Often the invitation card would stipulate the table and seat number, otherwise, this is shown in the seating display as mentioned. Great attention is given to the protocol of seating and is done officially by the foreign office.

At the given hour, the toastmaster who regulates the service procedure announces the lunch or dinner by ringing a gong or hammering a gavel saying “ your excellencies, the dinner is served”, in a loud and clear voice. A toastmaster is a specialized person who conducts the proceedings of a state luncheon or dinner. He coordinates not only the timing of each service but also the speeches and toasts, The doors of the banquet hall are thrown open and guests are given time to find their tables and seats. The tables would have flagged stands at the center with table numbers while the covers would have tent cards displaying the seat number or the guest’s name.

Each cover at the table is pre-set with the required solver cutlery and the glassware according to the number of courses. Attractive napkin folding completes the cover set-up. At the center of the table are the breadbaskets, butter dishes, salt and pepper and low flower arrangements, Spaces between covers can range from 20” – 32”. It is considered that 24” is ideal. The space between tables should be a minimum of 4 1/2 ft and ideally 6 ft to permit waiters to walk around freely. Two waiters are allotted to 8-10 covers. The sommelier may serve up to 35 covers. The toastmaster stands behind the chief host while the banquet supervisor stands opposite him to receive signals.

The waiters stand at attention at the allotted tables and help the guests to sit, assisting ladies first. After all the guests are seated, the toastmaster announces the national anthem of both the countries when all guests stand. After the anthem is over the guests sit. The toastmaster announces the start of the service. Timing is important and the banquet supervisor receives the cue from the toastmaster. He conveys the signal to start service together. The appetizer round starts with waiter 1 serving the first guest and waiter 2 the second; the alternate the numbers from left to right or in a clockwise direction in the case of round tables. After the first course service, the waiters stand behind the chairs at attention.

When the toastmaster removes the dish from the chief guest, it is the cue to the banquet supervisor to signal the rest of the crew to do likewise. Waiter 1 removes plates with a napkin while waiter 2 holds a large tray behind waiter 1. Waiter 1 deposits the soiled dishes onto the tray. The relevant cutlery is removed in preparation for the next course and if required cutlery is replenished. The procedure remains the same for all the remaining courses. Normally, the menu is a four-course menu with coffee to make service simple. It would consist of an appetizer or soup, fish course, meat course and dessert followed by coffee. Vegetarians are listed in advance at the time of invitation and confirmation. It is necessary to ensure the service of red wines with red meats and white wines with white meats.

At the time of dessert service, all the breadbaskets, butter dishes, salt, and pepper shakers are removed. The dessert spoon is placed to the right of each guest and the dessert fork to the left. Waiter 1 does the crumbing before the dessert service and removes red wine glasses.

The sommelier provides the bandy and additional wine as per guest request after the dessert course. In the end waiter number 2 places, demitasse cups from the right and waiter 1 pours coffee into the cups.

The toastmaster announces that the host wishes to present a toast. Toasting is a formal act done for the health and well-being of the chief guest. It is a ritual that starts from the Greeks and Romans to their Gods several centuries BC. Toasts were adapted to the valiant warriors of the dead by the knights and lords and by the seventeenth century by speeches by both the host and chief guest. At the toasting stage, the waiters place ashtrays as the tables because this is also the cue that guests can smoke. It also indicates that the formal part of the meal is over.

The speeches continue and the sommelier keeps replenishing the bandy and liqueurs. Glasses should never be empty during speeches. Ashtrays are frequently exchanged for fresh ones during the speeches.