How to avoid (or start) a fight with a food snob
May 10th, 2013
10:00 AM ET
Share this on: editor James Oliver Cury tackles controversial food-and-drink-themed etiquette issues every week.

May is filled with opportunities to feast, starting with Cinco De Mayo and ending with Memorial Day weekend, the semi-official start of grilling season. It should be a happy, face-stuffing time as we say hello once again to seasonal staples.

But with this upswing in communal eating often comes heated debates about culinary gaffes, as in: You’re doing it wrong!

Here are four food fights in the making - assuming there’s a food snob in the room.

Take pictures of your food without being a jerk about it
January 28th, 2013
07:15 PM ET
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Editor's Note: Mark Hill is Director of Photography for Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. He's very worth following on Instagram @photomark16

I read an article in the New York Times Dining section last week that filled me with dismay. Helene Stapinski wrote an intriguing piece discussing restaurants that ban photography because it’s a disruption of the dining experience.

But wait, am I really a bummer just because I love shooting my beautifully prepared food before digging in?

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Filed under: Etiquette • Photography • Restaurants

January 22nd, 2013
12:00 PM ET
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The Waldorf Astoria in New York City has long been a byword for exquisite luxury, style and success.

From Franklin D. Roosevelt and Frank Sinatra to Queen Elizabeth II and Elizabeth Taylor, the hotel's guestbook reads like an A-list of twentieth century historical figures - not to mention tens of thousands of well-to-do tourists and travelers.

Over the years however some sticky-fingered guests have tried to claim a little bit of the Waldorf magic for themselves, checking out with hotel items as a souvenir of their stay.

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Filed under: Etiquette • New York • Travel

LA restaurant rewards phone-free patrons
August 16th, 2012
06:00 PM ET
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Cell phones often claim a spot on the table in restaurants, sitting right next to utensils, plates and glasses. One restaurant is trying to change that.

Eva Restaurant in Los Angeles offers diners a 5% discount for leaving their phones with the receptionist for the entirety of the meal. The new policy went into effect a bit more than a month ago, according to chef Mark Gold, who runs the restaurant with his wife, Alejandra.

Since then, the chef estimates that 40% to 50% of customers have opted in and ditched their phones.

Read the full story on CNN Money: Restaurant offers a 5% discount to eat without your phone

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Filed under: Bite • Etiquette • Restaurants • Technology

5@5 - Make your kid more restaurant-friendly
February 28th, 2012
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

When crying kids disrupt dinner, who ends up paying the price?

That was the question posed last week, and more than 21,000 readers weighed in saying that restaurants with stated policies about children's unruly behavior would actually entice them to spend money there.

While Firefly executive chef Danny Bortnick has taken steps to make his restaurant more kid-friendly, it is a two-way street - your kids need to act right.

And before you go off thinking Bortnick is some kind of booster seat hater, he is a father - and his restaurant is in the middle of Washington D.C.'s Dupont Circle: a densely populated urban neighborhood often busy with families and young kids.

Five Ways to Make Your Child More Restaurant-Friendly: Danny Bortnick

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Filed under: 5@5 • Bite • Etiquette • Kids in Restaurants • Parenting • Restaurants • Think

Why your grandma swipes sugar packets
January 12th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
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If you build it, they will come. And if you put it on the table, chances are someone is going to take it.

This includes, but is certainly not limited to, condiment sachets, paper napkins, individual coffee creamers, cracker packets, and just about anything else “not wrapped for individual sale” that can easily be stuffed into purses and/or pockets without a single qualm.

Whether it’s your best friend, grandma, crazy uncle or maybe even yourself doing the lifting, evidence of the petty pilfering can be found in drawers and car glove boxes across the nation – each with their own little cache of restaurant and sugar caddy bounty.

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Filed under: Bite • Culture • Etiquette • Favorites

5@5 - You might be an amateur diner if...
December 29th, 2011
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Editor's Note: Ron Eyester is the owner and chef of Rosebud restaurant and Family Dog bar in Atlanta. He doesn't like when people come to his restaurant and move around the chairs or pretend it's their birthday. You can also find him on Twitter as the Angry Chef.

As a chef and restaurateur, although the nature of food is undoubtedly the primary source of my passion, I am very intrigued by human behavior and how our relationships with people truly impact the dynamic of our business. As the owner of a neighborhood restaurant, I feel it is absolutely essential to have a vested interest in my immediate community and allow our neighborhood’s character help shape the culture of our restaurant.

I am very proud of the relationships that my staff and I have developed with many of our regular guests, but there is also another “special demographic of folks” that are worth mentioning.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Bite • Etiquette • Restaurants • Think

Lunch with co-workers – who pays?
November 28th, 2011
09:45 AM ET
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From the experts at

"If you're out with five co-workers and you're the sixth person, just take the full amount of the lunch total, add a 20 percent gratuity, and divide by six," Oliver says. "This will prevent all sorts of nickel and diming and help keep group morale high."

So despite the fact you had a $6 salad and your co-worker had a $15 pulled-pork po'boy, just grin and bear it — eventually you'll be ordering the high- ticket item, and it will all even out over time. It's not worth the drama between your co-workers and the hassle for the server to split the tab unevenly.

Read – Workplace lunch dilemmas: Who pays!?

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Filed under: Etiquette • Restaurants

Keeping peace at the Thanksgiving table
November 22nd, 2011
03:30 PM ET
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To help keep the peace with her in-laws during holidays, Julia Smith adopted a rule several years ago about talking politics: Don't do it, and don't take the bait if anyone starts in.

Her relationship with her father-in-law in particular had always been fraught with tension, said Smith, who asked that her name be changed to preserve family relations. She was the "screaming liberal from New York" who'd corrupted his Texas-bred son into moving to "Taxachusetts" and voting Democrat. As far as she was concerned, he was a good ol' boy who didn't like to talk politics as much as preach his views.

Her resolve was put to the test three years ago at Thanksgiving dinner, right after Barack Obama was elected president. She was picking at her turkey when, she says, her father-in-law suggested an act of violence toward Obama.

She attempted to keep cool by gathering her children and leaving the table. But then he repeated it at dessert.

Read – Etiquette 101: Talking politics over Thanksgiving dinner

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Filed under: Bite • Culture • Entertaining • Etiquette • Holidays • Thanksgiving

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