The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 10, issue 3
International Institute of Modern Butlers
Message from the Chairman
I was interviewed recently for an article about robot butlers by a writer who understood that there was a slight problem with the onward rush to create them. Tech companies continue with the search for the Holy Grail: robots that can copy human actions and perceive and respond to their environment better/more efficiently/more effectively than humans. These companies will never reach that goal for two simple and related reasons: a) they do not understand what butlers are and do, and most importantly, that butlers are not machines; b) employers are not machines, either. They are both, in most cases, alive. No amount of software will ever be able to inject life into objects. Ancient alchemists tried to turn lead into gold, and that is an excellent metaphor for the actions of 21st Century techies hell-bent on creating über-butlers. All power to them, I say, as the fun is in the playing of a game, engaging in the challenge. No doubt many advances will be made tangentially, but robot butlers being anything more than amusing toys/mannequins, or taking the place of us lowly hominids, is not an issue that should cause any butler to dust off his or her resume.
Letters to the Editor
“It never ceases to amaze me how those with wads of cash, often bigger that the holdings of small countries, worry about matters such as a possible premium increase in the butler’s health insurance. Like one employer, who has a huge pile of rocks in the UK worth in excess of 3 million quid, and a shack in Barbados that costs him $240,000 to operate every year and in which the family only spends three months a year, but whose conversations eventually and invariably return to his concerns about the cost of heating and electricity. I was once asked to cook a roast of beef and requested a half bottle of wine to make the sauce. The discussion that ensued, before that employer begrudgingly acquiesced to my humble request, was unbelievable—especially given the compliments I received after he had eaten. Maybe that is why I am still the humble butler and he, the Lord of the Manor!” (Name withheld)
Ed: It is a curious fact, oftentimes, that those who have wads of cash are so focused on amassing and keeping those said wads, that they overlook the notion that they are also meant to enjoy what their wealth makes possible—which enjoyment can be for their own benefit, or more satisfyingly, the benefit of others. The story of the unfortunate King Midas is that he was imprisoned by his captors in full possession of all his gold, and no food.
Butlers in the Media
A person who appears to be a butler speaks out briefly about serving the Queen (of England) at table and working in service.
An Australian lady gives us a few more examples of how creatively labelled “something butlers” (i.e. BBQ butlers) are popping up in hotels. Along the same line, apparently tables at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray in Dubai now come with “personal butlers.”
The Chairman’s latest article, Mr. Bicycle and Other Challenges, has been published by the just-launched Luxury Hotelier Magazine.
Let’s Talk about Spirits, Part I
by Amer Vargas
Whiskey, Part I
This time we are focusing in one of the most famous spirits worldwide, the drink of the tough western cowboys: yes, whisky (or “whiskey”!).
The current name of the drink owes its origin to the Gaelic dialects spoken by the Irish and the Scottish centuries ago. The distilled drinks from the Roman era were named “aqua vitae” (water of life), which was translated into Gaelic as uisge beatha, which evolved over time into uskebeaghe, uskebaugh, usquebath and usquebae; and as pronunciation kept changing, to whishkeyba and the modern-day name: whisky.
Whisky is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash, and aged in charred white oak casks for a set period of time; from about a month for some, to several decades in the case of top-quality whiskies.
The first step in the production of whisky is the selection of ingredients, as different grains produce different drinks. Most commonly, barley, rye, wheat, buckwheat, and corn are used to produce whisky.
In addition, the grain can be “malted,” which involves soaking and draining it several times over a time period of about 3 days, at a steady temperature of 13 oC (55.4 oF). The grain is then allowed to germinate for about a week. In this process, the grain opens and part of the starch is converted into sugar that converts into alcohol during the distillation process.
Germinated grain is dried and toasted for another 3 days at a temperature of 70 oC (158 oF).
Next, dry malt is milled and mixed with hot water in a tank to obtain what is termed “wort.” Yeasts are added to instigate a fermentation process carried on at 33 oC (91.4 oF) for another 3 days. The resulting by-product is called “wash.”
At this stage the wash is distilled twice. The first distillation creates a “low wine” drink of 25-30o proof and the second one doubles the amount of alcohol, leaving the whisky ready for aging.
The most common container employed in aging whisky is a charred white oak barrel, and in the case of malt whisky, casks must previously have contained Sherry or Bourbon. During the maturation stage, the wood delivers flavours, tannins and strength to the drink, and colour can be added using caramel. The aging process lasts from 2 to 20 or more years, although after two decades, any extra aging does not necessarily improve the whisky. Once bottled, no further maturation or development occurs. Whisky commonly has a 40% alcohol content, although some can have as much as double that amount.
In the next article we shall review where and how different whiskies are produced. In the meantime, may I suggest you enjoy a quiet read by the fireplace, while sipping a whisky on the rocks?
Mr. Vargas can be contacted via AmerVargas at modernbutlers.com
“While I reside in New York, a great friend of mine moved recently to London and (I suspect inspired by Dowton Abbey) had mentioned on several occasions that she would like to have a butler for her birthday. Unfortunately, I was not able to oblige her request with a full-time butler, but came up with the idea that I might be able to find a butler to deliver her breakfast on her first birthday in her new home. This turned out to be more difficult to coordinate then I had imagined and, despite having contacted numerous staffing services in the London area, I was unable to find someone who could assist me with this unique request.
Thankfully, I was introduced by the Institute to Mr. Prem Rao, a butler in London and member of the Institute, who immediately made himself available to assist with this early morning, weekend request. Furthermore, he made the request his own, helping to develop a wonderful menu and suggesting additional gifts to make the event special. I found Mr. Rao to be extremely detailed-oriented with regard to the manner and content of delivery. The breakfast was a great success, largely due to the contribution of Mr. Rao.
As I was not able to attend the event personally, I very much appreciated the close communication and updates provided by Mr. Rao, as well as the photos he took for me of the occasion.
As a professional investment manager, I have many ultra-high-net-worth corporate and government clients around the world. I would have absolutely no hesitation in recommending the services of Mr. Rao to them. I wish him much success in the future.” SM
Perceptions of the Butler (Part 6 of 7)
by GJ dePillis
Day to Day Expectations of a butler
In general, the butler’s duties are obvious to those within the profession, but what does the average potential employer assume they will receive in the way of services when they hire a butler? Identifying these expectations is important, obviously, in determining if one’s employer is likely or not to be satisfied. It might be interesting, also, for those already in service, to see how their employers compare.
1. Which meals do you expect to be served daily?
› 20% Lunch for members at home.
› 65% Breakfast, dinner, and cocktails when needed.
› 15% stated all meals are to be served under the butler’s direction, unless ordered otherwise. This includes: Breakfast, lunch, dinner, afternoon tea, and cocktails.
2. What is your day like on your butler’s day off?
› 100% stated that they waited for their butler to return to work.
3. Do you require your butler to be versed in the sports or hobbies you enjoy?
› 66% said “Yes.” For example, one respondent stated it would be nice if he became excited about golf.
› 33% said the butler could have his own hobbies and did not need to share the pursuits of his employer.
4. If you were single, and had a butler, would you transition your butler to your married household?
› 83% of the respondents said “Yes.” It was felt that after the butler had been trained to the requirements of the bachelor’s household, it would be more efficient to augment staff if needed after marriage than to start from scratch.
› 16% said it would depend on what household staff the future spouse would bring into the household, but every effort would be made to integrate both staff teams.
5. Would you be willing to part with your butler once a year for the purpose of the butler attending a conference to improve skills?
› 84% said “Yes,” and the remainder said “No.” Of those who said yes, the types of skills to be improved/updated were: (some respondents suggested more than one topic):
› 83% Technology and mechanical skills. The respondents felt the mechanical skills would be useful to repair common household mishaps and some minor auto fixes;
› 80% The butler’s managerial skills to assist with managing existing staff as well as outside contractors;
› 20% The latest fashions;
› 50% Mastering new cooking skills.
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
Q. Where can I have appraisals performed in the United States?
A. At a number of locations:
American Society of Appraisers , 555 Herndon Parkway, Suite 125 , Herndon, VA 20170, Phone: 703/478-2228, Fax: 703/742-8471
Appraisers Association of America, Inc., 386 Park Ave. South, Suite 2000, New York, NY 10016, Phone: 212/889-5404, Fax: 212/889-5503
International Society of Appraisers, 1131 SW 7th St., Suite 105 , Renton, WA 98055 , Phone: 206/241-0359, Fax: 206/241-0436
• Joseph P. Brady Appraisal Services, 2870 Peachtree Rd. #495 , Atlanta, Georgia 30305 , Phone: 770/594-9293;
Waterman Appraisal & Consulting Services , 17 Ronald Rd. , Barrington, RI 02806 , Phone: 401/289-0044, Cell: 401/595-4225.
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 (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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