Napkin Folding Made Easy
Back by popular demand:
Step By Step Napkin Folding Instructions From The Waiters’ Digest
The New York Times
December 14, 2000
Stylish Add-Ons for Old-Fashioned Laptops
BY JOYCE COHEN
HERE’S a way to make every meal better, according to Helmut Schonwalder — add a nicely folded napkin.
“The napkin makes all the difference,” said Mr. Schonwalder, who has developed dozens of napkin folds. “It creates atmosphere, and it cheers people up. They say, `How did he make this?’ “
His Web site explains how. It gives step-by-step instructions for making four dozen of his napkin folds, which he has developed during a career in the hotel and restaurant industry. Mr. Schonwalder has not gotten around to posting the other 100-odd napkin folds he has created.
Anyone wishing to spruce up a holiday table with folded napkins can look to the Web for guidance, where assorted sites offer instructions for making napkins that lie flat, stand up or drape gracefully from glasses or goblets. Some napkin folds include pockets for holding cutlery, flowers or dinner rolls. A few even use fork tines to keep accordion folds in place.
Mr. Schonwalder learned his craft as a young waiter in Hamburg, Germany. “I worked in a plush place with a banquet room for 2,000 people,” he said. “Sometimes I was folding napkins all week.”
In his career, he noticed that other establishments needed napkin help. “Their table settings were not up to par, so I showed them what they should do,” said Mr. Schonwalder, now a computer technician at Monterey Peninsula College in California and a part-time waiter.
His site includes variations on classic folds as well as many original folds, all of which are named after women in his life. The Henrietta, Tae Hui and Kathryn folds, for example, are named for ex-wives. “I renamed them all, even the regular, typical folds,” he said. “They are a little bit different the way I folded them.” A favorite is the Esther, a kind of fleur- de-lis fold named for a teacher.
“It is delicate in style, and you can use one, two or three napkins,” Mr. Schonwalder said. “Especially on holidays, people shouldn’t have only one napkin. We eat things with our fingers — we pick up a rack of lamb or some crab.” At such times, he favors three napkins — for lip, lap and hands.
He has also posted some of his napkin poetry (“trust me/ I will not/ tell on you/ I am/ your dinner/ napkin”), inspired by an embroidered napkin from a five-star hotel in Johannesburg, where he was the manager of room service.
“A beautiful napkin was discarded,” he said. “Somebody burned it with a cigarette. I took it home and wrote something about it.”