The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, August, 2011

International Institute of Modern Butlers

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


Message from the Chairman

Well, that was not so successful—publishing every other month: it did not reduce our workload, caused some protests, and so much material piling up to publish that we have had to push some articles to the next issue. So we are moving back to a monthly MBJ.
As you will probably have noticed, we have switched to a web-based newsletter through our new web site. Please sign up for the newsletter by subscribing at the top right of this page and the link to the newsletter will  be sent to you automatically each month. At the end of the year, we will no longer be sending out emails with the newsletter link.
Yes, our new web site is up and running, with thanks to Mr. Clive McGonigal for his guidance and deft hand. Please do visit and start the dialogue with comments on blogs, articles, liking what you see (hopefully), etc. Anyone who would like to post, please contact the editor and we will give you author status.


We are very happy to announce that the high-end of the retirement community is now recognizing the value of butler service and five-star standards, with Toronto leading the way.

Peter Island Resort is Part of the British Virgin Islands yet a world apart, especially now that the Institute was able to provide some training in butler style service to the butlers and other staff.

Talking of exporting butler standards, the Institute has been engaged in training hospitality staff in the Southern Hemisphere as part of a program to give eager but economically challenged youngsters the leg-up they need to join the service industry. Frank Mitchell reports on the Signature Life Institute of Hospitality Studies initiative.

As a sidenote for butlers in South Africa,  the Private Hotel School in Stellenbosch is offering culinary skills training for private service professionals after hours and over weekends: 15 days for R 4,600.   


Interesting Links & Media Coverage

The Houston Chronicle (Texas) writes of local butlers and the challenges they face

The Canadians repeat the line about the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (although they twice refer to them as the “Duke and Duchess of Cornwall,” a title belonging to Prince William’s father, Prince Charles)  foregoing butlers and this being bad news for the profession.

We still contend that the modern butler has a place in their lives, so they can focus on their own duties—and the royal couple will find this out as their duties increase.

Thanks, Cornell University researchers, as reported in the New York Times, who have coined a new phrase, “Butler lying,” to describe our tendency to act as social buffers, telling white lies.

Butlers are experiencing a comeback in Scotland

And while on the subject of Celtic butlers being in demand…

a client needs a butler who is based in Ireland for a five-day assignment there.

Please let us know if you (or someone you know who fits the bill) are interested.

Letters to the Editor

“I’m searching for a re-usable leather seating plan used in a home, replicating the table that features slots to slip a tiny card or paper in, with the guest’s name. I saw this type of table plan presentation at the Baronness de Rothschild’s château in Geneva: it was in leather, and placed on a table just outside the dining room with the tiny cards containing the guests name indicating where they were seated.”  S. Hedqvist

Editor: We suspect this seating plan was custom made, but if anyone knows where such an item may be available commercially, please contact us


And from a Private Service Correspondence Course student:

“My assignment on the big program for the College and City will end August 3.  It was intense for awhile, but turned out to be very successful. The things I have already learned from the course have been beneficial, including the latest work on employee relations.  Your instruction continues to benefit my life, even during interruptions in the course.  I have a lot of education and professional experience over many years; still it was curious (but not surprising anymore) to me how directly principles of butling apply to helping the College and City work together in creating, producing, marketing, and cleaning up one of the biggest and most ambitious stadium shows in the country.  I’ll be back in touch as soon as I finish the current segment of Module 5.  Thanks again for your help and encouragement. Kindest regards, R.R.”


Purple Carrots

As reported by Private Chefs, Inc., “Carrots Used to Be Purple Before the 17th Century.”

Before the 17th century, almost all carrots cultivated were purple.  The modern day orange carrot wasn’t cultivated until Dutch growers in the late 16th century took mutant strains of the purple carrot, including yellow and white carrots and gradually developed them into the sweet, plump, orange variety we have today.

Before this, pretty much all carrots were purple with mutated versions occasionally popping up including the yellow and white carrots.  These however were rarely cultivated and lacked the purple pigment “anthocyanin,” which gave carrots back then their distinctive purple color.

It is thought that the modern day orange carrot was developed by crossing the mutated yellow and white rooted carrots as well as varieties of wild carrots, which are quite distinct from cultivated carrots.

Some think that the reason the orange carrot became so popular in the Netherlands was in tribute to the emblem of the House of Orange and the struggle for Dutch independence.  This could be, but it also might just be that the orange carrots that the Dutch developed were sweeter tasting and more fleshy than their purple counterparts, thus providing more food per plant and being better tasting.


The Butler’s Guide to Tea

by Frank Mitchell





Tea Equipage

Before we talk about making tea, I want to make sure we have the right tools for the job. Teapots and tea sets come in myriad shapes and sizes, designed to suit all tastes and budgets.

Changes in fashion and personal stylistic preferences aside, here are a few guidelines to ensure that the equipment you choose will brew the best cup of tea possible. 

The Teapot

 A good teapot should be inert—which relegates the beautiful silver tea set to ornamental status.
Unglazed pots such as Yixing teapots are said to be better for green and oolong teas as the clay will ameliorate the tea’s natural astringency. 
Bear in mind that these pots come in a variety of grades and that the quality of the clay can have as much effect on the taste of the tea as the water you use.

For black tea, the inside of the pot should be glazed so that it will not affect the tea’s flavour. Glass is good at this and has the advantage that one can watch the tealeaves open up as they draw.

Unfortunately glass is not as good at retaining heat when the teapot is pre-heated.  The teapot should be large enough for the quantity of tea required, but consider single serving teapots for green and oolong teas.

Such teas can be brewed more than once and you are encouraged to use all the tea from each brewing before adding more water. Make sure that the opening is wide enough for the infuser you intend to use.

The spout should be level with the opening and pour without dripping. Oval shaped spouts are generally the most successful. 

On a good teapot, the lid fits so closely, that blocking the vent in the lid with your finger forms a vacuum and no water will pour from the spout when the pot is tipped.

Lastly, a well-balanced teapot does not strain the wrist or bring your knuckles into contact with the hot teapot when pouring.

Whatever you decide, remember that you should have a second, preferably matching teapot. I will explain the use of the second pot next month.

The Strainer

Assuming that we are using loose leaf tea, an arrangement must be made to separate out the tea leaves once the tea has drawn. 

This can either take the form of a strainer or an infuser. Most infusers do not leave enough room for the tea leaves to draw properly and yet one often sees small infusers designed for a single cup used in a teapot!

As the tea leaves draw water they swell up. Packed together tightly in the infuser they are rendered useless. Do not force a large infuser into the teapot – I have seen staff get them stuck inside.

Take care not to chip the glaze off teapots with metal infusers and their retaining clips and chains. 

A well-know range is marketed under the ‘Bodum’ name.  These have the advantage that when the leaves are pushed down into the bottom of the infuser cage, they effectively stop drawing.

If the tea is to be poured immediately – one can do so without first removing the leaves and dripping tea on the tea tray. Do not be tempted to convert a cafetière already used for coffee to tea making.

 The old-fashioned strainer still does a good job, but it must be kept clean and an arrangement must be made to catch drips. 

If the strainer is plastic – it stays in the kitchen! By using two teapots, one can keep the strainer with its stains, drips and spills in the kitchen anyway. 

The Tea Cosy

This is usually used while the tea is drawing, but some experts believe this practice can cause the tea to stew and release bitter flavours into the final brew.

Reserve the tea cosy until after the leaves have been removed from the pot. Of course, if the tea will be served immediately, it should not be needed. Similarly, avoid using a tea warmer until after the tea leaves have been removed. 

A final word on cleaning: simply rinse out the pot with boiling water and leave it to dry. Avoid washing it in soapy water or placing it in the dishwasher which will dull the glaze.

Never bleach a teapot to remove stains. Add two teaspoons of baking soda, fill with boiling water and soak overnight. Rinse and leave to dry.

Next month we will take a look at the correct method of preparing orthodox black teas.


That’s all for this month.

See you next month.

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