A charger plate, also known as a service plate or underplate, is a decorative base setting used during each dining course at weddings, banquets, or fine-dining establishments. Each course is served in a separate bowl or plate and placed on top of the charger plate. Chargers are neatly dressed and displayed on tables before guests are seated. Servers remove chargers from the table once all guests finish enjoying the main entree.

What Is The Purpose Of A Charger Plate?

Charger plates are mostly known for providing catering companies or restaurants with an elegant way to serve multiple meals while adding to the aesthetics of the dining table. However, underplates are commonly used at formal events for a number of reasons. Below is a list of the different purposes for charger plates:

  • Upselling: Charger plates help set the ambiance at restaurants. For instance, placing decorative underplates with empty wine glasses sets the mood for an intimate and elegant dinner while suggesting customers order a glass of wine.
  • Prevent table stains: Underplates are larger than appetizer and dinner plates. This allows them to catch pieces of food and prevent spills that may stain tablecloths or tables.
  • Retain heat: Chargers are placed directly underneath dinnerware to help retain the heat of meals. They also protect tables from getting damaged due to hot plates or bowls.

Can You Eat Off A Charger Plate?

Most foodservice establishments place a bowl or plate of food on top of a charger plate. That’s because charger plates are decorated with paints or coatings that are not safe to eat off. Eating off service plates may also cause the plates to chip because guests are consistently clinking their tableware against the plates while enjoying their food. However, you can serve food directly onto charger plates if they are coated in a food-safe material.

What Is The Difference Between A Charger Plate And Dinner Plate?

A charger plate is larger than a dinner plate but smaller than a serving platter. Chargers are components of place settings at upscale restaurants and events. They are primarily used as decorous bases for plates and bowls. Unlike traditional plates, many service plates are coated with substances that enhance their appearance but make them unsafe for direct food contact.

How To Use A Charger Plate

You may be wondering how to use charger plates if you’re starting your own catering business or looking to add refinement to your restaurant’s service. To properly use a charger at your upscale event, simply follow our step-by-step guide below:

  1. Find the right charger plate: When choosing a charger plate, consider the event you’re catering. The charger should enhance the aesthetics of the dining table while complementing the theme, centerpieces, tablecloths, and servingware used at the event.
  2. Set the charger: Before the start of the event, each place setting should have a charger plate. The charger should be set in between the arranged silverware, below the drinking glasses, and an inch away from the bottom edge of the table.
  3. Include table accessories: Place menu cards, napkins with napkin rings, and other accessories on top of the charger. This puts accessories within reach while adding to the visual effect of the table.
  4. Serve meals: Set down each guests’ bowl or plate on top of the charger. Food should not be served directly on top of the service plate.
  5. Remove charger plates: You can remove charger plates from each place setting after every guest finishes eating the main course. The charger should be taken away with the dinner plate still on top.

Other Charger Plates Uses

While chargers are typically used in the foodservice industry for holding appetizer or dinner plates, many establishments have gotten creative and have found other uses for them. Here are some other ways you can incorporate elegant charger plates into your business:

  • Place a doily on top of the charger plate and use it as a platter for passed hors d'oeuvres or desserts.
  • Set floral centerpieces on top of the charger to aesthetically please your guests.
  • Display pillar candles on the charger plate in the center of tables or by the entrance of the event to lighten up the area.

Aesthetically Please Your Guests With Charger Plates!

Now that you have an understanding of what charger plates are and their purpose, it’s time to take the place settings at catered events or your formal get-togethers to the next level! Just remember to use chargers that complement your centerpieces, tablecloths, and servingware. Doing so will allow you to effortlessly enhance the aesthetics of the dining table and ambiance at your function. Use our charger plate guide to ensure you properly use underplates at your next event!