Table Cover

Cover literally means to cover the course and dishes with a large white napkin in order to indicate that all precautions had been taken to avoid the poisoning of guests.

In modern food service operation, a cover refers to a portion of the dining table set a person’s meal with all necessary tableware for such meal. It is a place set for a person on the table. The term cover can be used to indicate the number of guests to be catered for e.g. 100 covers means tables are laid to cater for 100 guests.


A cover also refers to the entire necessary cutleries, crockery, glassware and linen required to lay a specific place setting for a person’s meal. Different types of place settings may be laid according to the type of meal and service being offered.



  1. Each cover must be well balanced i.e. all the required cutlery, glassware, etc. must be available but not to be crowded with cutlery.
  2. All cutlery and table accompaniment must be placed at least an inch away from edge of the table.
  3. Knives and spoons are kept on the right hand and forks on the left hand side.
  4. The cutting edge of knives should be towards the left hand side.
  5. The water glass is kept at the tip of the large knife.
  6. The napkin is kept in the centre of the cover.
  7. Cruet set is kept on top of the cover.
  8. All covers must be laid directly opposite each other. A cover is normally about 60cm long



  1. What is a cover in Food service industry?
  2. Mention three characteristics of a cover.



  1. A LA CARTE COVER: These follow the principle that the cutlery for each course will be laid just before each course is served. Only the cutlery for hors d’oeuvre (1st course) is set on the table. Hence on the cover, we have:
  • Fish plate (at centre of cover)
  • Fish knife (at right side of fish plate)
  • Fish fork (at left side of fish plate)
  • Side knife (on the side plate)
  • Napkin (on the fish plate)
  • Water and wine glasses (at the tip of fish knife)
  • Cruet set
  • Low flower vase

When an a la carte has been laid, the cutlery required by the customer for the dishes he or she has chosen will be laid course by course.

  1. CLASSIC OR BASIC LAY UP: It is an approach to what is laid for the a la carte form of service.  Classic involve using large decorative cover plate instead of fish plate at the centre and/or replacing the fish knife and fork with a joint knife and fork.



  1. Differentiate between a la carte and classic cover.
  2. Mention five materials for setting a la carte cover.


  1. TABLE D’HOTE COVER: These follow the principle that the cutlery for the whole meal will be laid before the first course is served.  Where a table d’hote cover has been laid the waiter should remove after the order has been taken, any unnecessary cutlery and relay any extra items that may be required. The additional cover for a table d’hote menu is as follows:
  • Napkin (at the centre of the cover)
  • Side plate (with side knife on it)
  • Fish fork (at left side of side plate)
  • Soup spoon (at extreme right of napkin)
  • Fish knife (before soup spoon)
  • Joint knife (between fish knife and napkin)
  • Wine glass (at tip of knives)
  • Water glass (beside wine glass)
  • Sweet fork (in front of napkin, prongs towards glasses)
  • Sweet spoon (follows with bowl towards cruet set, the handle towards glasses)



  1. What is cover?
  2. State five characteristics of a cover.
  3. State the principle of a la carte cover.
  4. Mention two advantages of baking.
  5. Mention the different stages in frying.



  1. The water glass is kept at the tip of the ____ A. large knife B. large fork C. spoon D. knife
  2. Napkin is kept in the ____ A. centre of the cover B. centre of the table C. under the cover D. side of the cover
  3. Cruet set is kept ____ A. on the table B. on the cover on top of the cover D. on the napkin
  4. The cutting edge of all the knives should be towards the ____ A. left hand side B. right hand side C. side of plate D. any side
  5. One of the following does not belong to the group. A. Silver service B. Plated service C. Buffet service D. Gueridon service



  1. State the principle of a la carte cover.
  2. State the principle of table d’hote cover.


See also


Specialized service




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