The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 12, issue 11
International Institute of Modern Butlers
Teaching Right Mindset, People Skills, & Superior-service Expertise
Message from the Chairman
Our thanks to the silent majority who took the trouble to let us know that the MBJ is on-target. As a result of the response, we will soon launch a new column that will canvas private service butlers around the world for their input on a variety of topics. Although not necessarily the most important subject, we will nevertheless make the first subject to address, just how butlers/household managers and silver intersect these days. Once a mainstay of the butler skillset, polishing silver seems to be a sideline at best for the majority. Otherwise, we have 40 topics lined up already, and that is after just ten minutes of thought. A number of our members have already volunteered to participate.
If you are a private service butler/household/estate(s) manager, current or retired, or know of someone who is, and would like to add your (or their) input so that we have larger numbers responding for a more accurate picture of our profession, then please contact us and we will add you to the list of butlers and household/estates managers. The duties are light: one email once a month (from Ms. Gretchen dePillis, our famous Rose Lady) with some specific questions. She may follow up by email or possibly even phone call to clarify any points.
We will also be starting another column—one that we did for about three issues in the early days of the MBJ—profiling butlers and household/estate(s) managers. If you would like to put forward a name and email address of an individual you feel would have a a story to tell, then please contact us about that, too.
One other point of interest: The first book for the profession was The British Butler’s Bible, which was expanded into Butlers and Household Managers, 21st Century Professionals. Well, that book, after riding high as the best-seller for the profession, is now being expanded into a two-volume set totaling 725 pages, with 150 photographs and extensive glossaries of hundreds of words. Entitled Serving the Wealthy, The Modern Butler’s & Household/Estate(s) Manager’s Companion, it should be available in November if you would like to add it to your library (print & electronic). For those who already have Butlers and Household Managers, 21st Century Professionals, we have a little surprise that should make your day, as a way of showing our appreciation to loyal readers.
Butlers in the Media
A politician in Brazil earned the nickname “The Butler” based on his reserved manner while negotiating deals between political rivals.
Robot Butlers: Alexa is a 150 GBP robot that is connected to the Internet. You wake it up by yelling its name, and then tell it what you want. The software on the Internet is its mind, and it will control various household functions, such as running baths or ordering taxis. As “skills” (apps) can be programmed by third parties, there may be little limit to its hearing and relay of its owner’s wishes, and execution of those wishes.
A robot that has multi functions and sports a video showing plastic emotions used to control people (such as a son threatening to turn off the football game because his father’s blood pressure rises to just over 100, which is normal range anyway) is another effort to take away jobs from humans. This robot-as-waiter, for instance, shows a picture of a dish to the diner as part of the order-taking process, but fails to check how they want their steak or offer alternative sides, drinks, etc. Maybe the robot could be programmed to do exactly what a waiter would do, but how desirable long-term is flat, emotionless service for human diners, even if it could be made efficient and on target, with just the right amount of upselling to enhance the guest experience without annoying them? Maybe a robot would appreciate this kind of service, but are “they” really going to start making consumer robots, too? The unreality of what these robot makers are bringing about is exemplified by the picture of a butler thrown on the screen while the voice-over talks about the robot being able to also take care of the potential owner’s housekeeping.
Butler “Things:” Someone has created a “string butler,” that allows guitar strings to stay in tune longer.
A “Wheelchair Butler” is an attachment to motorize a wheelchair.
Butler “People:” A “Gin Butler” now exists in an English pub offering a wide array of gins at its popular gin bar.
Also in England, a banquet manager position is being advertised as a “butler/house manager” and being offered just over minimum wage.
Introduction to Soap Carving
by Kobi Gutman
Art is a wonderful tool to create a great effect and ‘wow’ guests, or any person for that matter. Whereas one might consider art to be related mainly to painting, sculpting and music, it actually spans many fields. I would even dare to say, every field.
Art has to do with aesthetics, or beauty. In the field of hospitality, there is no lack of opportunities for introducing beauty. Be it the design and cleanliness of the premises, the aesthetically presented dish in our restaurants, the perfectly mixed cocktail, the beautifully arranged flowers, the maintained and restored silver crafts, the crafted chocolate and the list goes on and on. These are all products of art and artists. These, together with superlative service (which is an art in and of itself) leave a remarkable impression and create a great experience for all. Not to mention the contribution for reputation, income, and longevity of the business.
During research I was conducting on fruit carving, I encountered a unique form of art—soap carving. We’ve all seen the soap that is stamped with the hotel logo or some other design. Unfortunately, in a mass-production-oriented society such as ours, these tend to go by without taking away anybody’s breath. That, however, can be changed.
In the next issue I will provide step-by-step instructions for soap carving. In the meantime, here are a few examples of what I am talking about. And yes, these are all soaps….
Kobi Gutman is the Head Butler at the Fort Harrison Retreat in Florida. He can be contacted via the Institute: enquiries @ modernbutlers.com
“Would you be so kind as to tell me what a Butler Internship is?” RC
Ed: Well, when you can find one (and they are few and far between these days), it is like any other internship: you do all the work under the supervision of an experienced butler, are paid not much above room and board, and walk away with a) experience, b) a better resume, and c) a leg-up into a professional position that those who may have some school training but no experience, lack, and so are not so attractive to potential employers. What your duties are depend upon whom you may find who is offering an internship, and the duties of the butler in that estate.
Some years ago, we had an arrangement with the British Embassy in DC, but not for a while now; and there is Blenheim Palace in England that offers an internship for two butlers each year. Or they did last year at least. There may well be others. The best would be to proposition butlers in larger estates and ask if they and their employer would benefit from such an arrangement.
“Very kind, thank you. The ‘not much pay’ part, reminds me of the Royal Family. Dripping with cash and yet they pay their staff like junkyard dogs. Mind you, I have to say, they were always the perfect guests to have stay when I used to work in Govt. Houses years ago and Ma’am always ensured we went off duty at nine pm or earlier and always left a half-decent gratuity for us. I really wanted to go back into private service, but at my age, and having been out of it for quite a few years, I don’t think I can muster the energy and money to force my way back into it again.” RC
Ed: Age does not have anything to do with it, unless you are physically infirm. You are obviously not mentally incompetent. With your apparent experience, you are not in need of an internship at all. You should be able to dust off your resume/CV and strut your stuff to agencies. No need for any funds to return to the game. As for energy, it is amazing how much returns when one feels revitalized toward a specific and desired goal. Any other reasons not to?
“You’re an excellent mentor” RC
Postscript: It looks like Blenheim Palace may not be offering internships anymore, but they are currently offering a one-month course for aspiring butlers.
Let’s Talk about Mixology, Part 16
by Amer Vargas
This time we visit La Habana, capital of Cuba, to discover the what, how, when, and why of one of the most famous cocktails worldwide, the Cubalibre.
The origin of this mix dates from the first years of the 20th century, when the US was helping the local inhabitants of Cuba to overthrow the Spanish government. History says that US soldiers regularly ordered Ron (rum) Bacardi on the rocks topped with Coca-Cola. The freshness of the mix, the fizziness of the cola, and the mood-lifting rum prompted the drinkers to toast their shared objective: ¿Por Cuba Libre! (For the Freedom of Cuba!)
The Cubalibre preparation is very easy and doesn’t require the fancy use of a cocktail shaker. Rather, it is served directly in a highball (although it was originally served in a lowball) with two or three rocks of ice. Then we add about 4.5 cl (1.5 oz) of white rum or golden rum (stored in oak or cherry tree barrels during production), after which the glass is topped up with cola (approximately 10 cl/3.5 oz); tilting the glass 45o and pouring it gently will help maintain the bubbles a little longer. The mix is generally garnished with a lemon slice. Although the custom is dying out, the Cubalibre was traditionally served with a few drops of lemon juice, adding a citric kick to the drink. In any case, a straw is always used as decoration.
The Cubalibre is sweet and tastes little of alcohol, making it too easy to drink—so remember that it is a long drink that should be enjoyed over a period of about 20-25 minutes.
Mr. Vargas is the Institute’s President and can be contacted via AmerVargas @ modernbutlers.com
Of Butlers, Roses, & Floral Arrangements,
Other Arrangements, Part 30 of 30
by GJ dePillis, Master Gardener
DRIED: After flowers have dried out, you can preserve them and place them in a paper rose stem.
CRESCENT SHAPES: Some would like a bouquet to be in a crescent shape, for which one needs a curved wire form. In addition to the crescent shape, some people like to add ribbons, and line the inside of the crescent with velvet ribbon to prevent slipping when placed on a young girl’s head, to form a headband made with fresh (thorn free) flowers. Silicone can also prevent slippage.
WRIST CORSAGES: Use a form that is comfortable for the wrist, yet still allows the wearer to display the flowers comfortably.
LIGHTS: For a pop of the modern, one can add a spray of lights to an arrangement http://www.save-on-crafts.com/fiberoptics1.html
BOUTONNIERES: Gentlemen can wear boutonnières. Take a small bloom with no more than 1” of stem, and one tiny accent flower and wrap with floral tape. The guard petals can be left on the blooms or removed. Cut 18 gauge floral wire and slide through the calyx (the green base of the bloom), then bend it down to guard the stem and keep the bloom upright. Cover the wire with tightly wound floral tape so the wire does not show. Then add in any accent flowers and tape all the stems together. One can accent the creation with a colored ribbon. Refrigerate at about 40F for no more than for one full day before the event. Oh, yes, and of course include a pin, or if you choose to wrap in wire, try a holder.
Ms. dePillis is a master gardener and freelance contributor to the Journal who is based on the West Coast of the United States. She can be reached via depillis @ gmail.com
by Jeffrey Herman
Announcing…the winner of the Herman’s Simply Clean Collectors Silver polish kit contest was Ms. Vicki Newton—congratulations, and may your silver shine!
Q: I have just started collecting silver. Are there any silver magazines you’d recommend?
A: I would recommend subscribing to Silver Magazine, PO Box 10246, Greensboro NC 27404. T: 866 841-0112
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 superior service expertise of that time-honored, quintessential service provider, the British Butler, updated with modern people skills, and adapted to the needs of modern employers and guests in staffed homes, luxury hotels, resorts, 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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