The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 9, issue 11
International Institute of Modern Butlers
Message from the Chairman
“Thank you’s” are in order for those who noticed, and commented on, the credits for The Butler movie including reference to the Institute’s participation in training the butler, who had one of the lead roles, in his craft. We did not realize that so many people sat through all the credits! We make no comment on the movie’s plot, as this is not the forum for such, but were happy to see that the butler did rather well in the execution of his duties, including a blooper when first serving the President (it was meant to convey nervousness, rather than the correct way to serve). We agreed to provide the training because we felt the actor and the script, which we reviewed, would do justice to this offshoot of the profession, and in this, we were not disappointed.
Letters to the Editor
“I just wanted to congratulate you on writing such an amazing book for our industry. I am a house manager and found what you have written to be very useful, especially all the little tips. I wish you well and hope our paths cross sometime in the future.” JP
Mr. Ferry responds: Thanks for the kind words, glad the book has proven useful. I am sure our paths will cross, they tend to in this profession.
Butlers in the Media
Butlers have been keeping out of the news of late, which is good news. However, here’s a strange one for you: Have you ever heard of “The Butler’s Frogfish?” or more to the point, has “frogfish” ever assaulted your ear drums without so much as a by-your-leave? It is a curious idea—frog or fish? The photograph sheds little light.
The name is curious, too, because it should really be “The Butler Frogfish” or “Butler’s Frogfish,” rather than “The Butler’s Frogfish,” having been named after the gentleman, Dr. Butler, who discovered it. It may be overly pedantic to highlight this, but I am sure you can be sympathetic to my view when I point out that there is only one thing the Butler Frogfish—which reportedly can reach lengths of four inches and has a head that is longer than it is deep—has in common with our profession: it is quite rare—actually, unique—being the only member of its genus.
One other curiosity, while we are on the subject, is that Butler Frogfish fins, quite uniquely in the aquatic world, separate into fingers that they use to grasp objects.
Let’s Talk about Wine, Part XX
by Amer Vargas
In the Land of the Rising Sun, Japan–famous for its state-of-the-art technology and sushi-and-sake
-centric gastronomic delights–generally unknown wines of great quality are produced. For Japan has a long tradition of wine production from grapes, dating back to the sixteenth century, when Christian missionaries from Portugal first brought wine as gifts for the feudal lords ruling the southern prefectures of the country.
Since the second half of the nineteenth century, Japanese vintners have invested heavily and worked hard to match European wines, with the result that Japanese wines are now finally beginning to appear on the wine world map.
The first local wine started to be produced in 1875. In the 20th century, Japanese wine production underwent a number of ups and downs during World War II and a subsequent Phylloxera epidemic. But during the 1980’s, the skill levels of wine making in Japan increased significantly, thus attracting more investment and the creation of new wineries. Numerous new brewers emulated the Western cultivation styles and developed insect-resistant grape varieties from European varietals.
Japanese growers deal with the country’s climate differences by using different hedging techniques: in high-humidity areas, fruit is kept 2-3 meters above the ground to enhance ventilation; in high, mountainous areas, hedges are planted on steep hillsides to ensure maximum exposure to sunlight and to protect the plants from heavy snowfall damage.
Today, wine is produced in most of the prefectures of Japan, although the most relevant area is Yamanasi, near Mount Fuji, where 95% of Koshu grapes are cultivated,.
The most popular grapes in Japan are “Muscat Bailey-A” and Koshu.
Muscat Bailey-A is a red wine grape, designed to withstand the harshness of colder climates—a mix of the Bailey grape with the Muscat Hamburg grape. It’s widely used to produce sweet wines, or Bordeaux style wines by mixing with western grapes.
Koshu is a white wine grape variety (despite its pink skin) that arrived in Japan from Eastern Europe, via the Silk Road. The wine it produces is pale in color and of soft, fresh, and fruity taste.
When it comes to pairing Japanese wines and food, Japanese vintners have devoted most of their efforts to creating wines that would match local recipes. Thus, Alps Wine Koshu 2010 would work very well with sushi and sashimi, and a Tamba Claret would complement Nikugaja (meat and potato stew) very nicely. Enjoy!
Mr. Vargas can be contacted via AmerVargas at modernbutlers.com
Perceptions of the Butler (Part 1 of 5)
by GJ dePillis
What might an “Electronic Butler” be called? Software applications are sold to the public promising they will ease interactions between technologies. They are marketed with the promise that these applications will take care of all computer-management tasks without a hitch.
While this may work for computers, can the role of “butler” or “personal assistant” be replaced by mere electronics? How does the potential employer perceive the ideal butler?
An informal poll was initiated to glean information about what a potential employer is really thinking when considering hiring a butler.
For the purpose of this article, a butler is defined as someone who is focused predominately on domestic duties; a personal assistant is defined as someone who works predominately in a corporate environment. All of our respondents asked to remain anonymous. We agreed, so that we could record the unvarnished truth.
The questions administered address the following subject areas:
1. What is the ideal candidate?
2. How does the traditional image of a butler dovetail with the employer’s modern requirements?
3. What are the sociological implications of an employer with their domestic staff?
4. What are the employer’s day-to-day expectations of a butler?
A pattern quickly emerged which demonstrated that the media, including TV shows like Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs, and movies like Remains of the Day and Gosford Park, have had a great influence on how a butler is perceived in the 21st century.
We know that employers want to employ “the ideal employee,” but what is that, once political correctness has been removed? In upcoming segments, we will see what an employer imagines their ideal butler to be, both in appearance as well as skill level.
Ms. dePillis is a freelance contributor to the Journal, who is based on the West Coast of the United States. She can be reached via depillis at gmail.com
Consulting the Silver Expert
by Jeffrey Herman
A: This color indicates that the piece is probably plated and not a solid-silver alloy. If this is the case, the area that is corroded would have to be selectively plated or the entire piece re-plated. Do not try to remove the corrosion yourself as it may reduce the value of the object.
Q: What will prevent rust from forming on carbon steel blades?
A. Flatware containing unplated carbon steel knife blades require protection, or rust will develop. After dinner, hand wash the knives in warm water, then dry immediately. Apply a very thin layer of Burt’s Bees Lip Balm on the blade and wipe with a paper towel until there is no residue left behind. This will keep the blades from rusting. Since Burt’s Bees Lip Balm is non-toxic, you won’t have to wash the knives again prior to use. If these knives become too taxing to care for, new stainless steel replacement blades are available.
Mr. Herman continues to offer his services to our readers, for any questions you may have about the care of silver. Either call him at (800) 339-0417 (in the USA) or email jeff at hermansilver.com
The Institute is dedicated to raising service standards by broadly disseminating the mindset and skills of that time-honored, quintessential service provider, the British Butler, adapted to the needs of modern employers and guests in staffed homes, luxury hotels, resort, spas, retirement communities, jets, yachts, & cruise ships around the world.
About the Author (Author Profile)Steven Ferry is chairman of the International Institute of Modern Butlers and the author of bestsellers "Butlers & Household Managers 21st Century Professionals" and "Hotel Butlers, The Great Service Differentiators." He also trains and consults for the profession around the world.
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