The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, May, 2012

BlueLogo2011web The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, February, 2012

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 8, issue 5

International Institute of Modern Butlers

IIMB Chairman Steven Ferry The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, February, 2012Message from the Chairman

One of our colleagues in the profession is on trial because he took action to protect his employer and family, as he saw it. Details below, but I look forward to your comments on the subject. Any one of us could find ourselves in a similar situation in the future, so it would be good to learn from this situation, perhaps.

 Letters to the Editor

 Photo by Janos Feher

A quick question for which I have found no answers in etiquette literature about funerals: are we expected to write “Thank you” letters only in response to condolence letters, or to those who signed a funeral book as well? For the former there is no doubt the answer is yes, of course; but for the latter I am note sure if one is expected to write to them, especially if the individuals did not leave their address. GL

Ed: I am not aware of any formal statement on this matter, and it would be hard to create points of etiquette to cover every single eventuality in life: there has to be a point where common sense and application of basic concepts takes over. In this case, I would suggest that a “Thank you” is not required or expected for simply signing one’s name; but it would certainly be courteous to thank an individual for coming and sharing in the experience and homage if they chose to fill out their address—in a way signaling some further communication would not be amiss.


The following exchange with a butler in the Americas might be instructive for other butlers who sometimes feel that they are not in the ideal position and feel inclined to look elsewhere—often, a little patience will see things come out right.

I graduated from a Butler School a year ago and am finding my family a little stressful to work for, as the Mrs. is never happy with anything we (the staff) do. It gets you down when you put everything into a job only to have them ignored. I am thinking of leaving even though it’s not good to be at a job for only a year. Have you heard of other butlers in similar situations to mine?

Ed: Thank you for asking. Sorry to hear you have been experiencing what many other butlers have learned the hard way: to vet employers before working for them, just as they vet you. That is why we recommend at least a month and preferably a three-month trial period before moving in lock, stock, and barrel, committing to a relationship that may not work out either way. Of course, as with any relationship, it takes some give and take and tolerance to make it work, and there is always the possibility that a relationship could be made viable, even if not ideal. However, if the employer is never happy with anything done, even when it is very well done and according to her wishes, then you are better off ending the relationship, even if it will make future potential employers look askance at you, wondering if you are a job hopper. The alternative, as you say, is you will be gotten “down,” and it will be repeatedly until you stay down. Decisions, decisions, decisions, but to answer your question, yes, your situation is not unusual: this is Planet Earth, after all, where things do not always follow the ideal.

You will be pleased to know that I and the other student at the butler academy both had your book at our sides and used it to verify and supplement discussions, etc. Anyway, I am committed to giving two-months notice even though my contract says nothing about any notice being required:  I would like to know they have a suitable replacement lined up.

Ed: I am glad to hear the book was useful. Yes, that is enough notice, and it is good you would like to ensure there is someone to replace you. I wish you well wherever you end up.

I just spoke with my placement agency. They tell me the current house manager will be replaced at the end of the month.  The placement agency would like me to give this new leader a chance and see if it improves things within the house.  They also said four week notice would be brilliant.  This is not a problem for me.

Ed: On the new leader, is the problem something else, or is it the Mrs.? If it is the Mrs., then a new leader will run into the same issue. If it be the current leader, and he has made everything so bad that the Mrs. is quite correct to be upset at everything being done, then I could understand your being willing to continue. Just a thought about the inconsistencies.

The problem is with both, but I think the leader certainly does not help the current situation. I will see if Mrs. is more reasonable with a more organized leader in place. Thanks for you time and advise.


Thank you so much for your article. Yours are always worthy reading. MR, Magazine Editor

Butlers in the Media

Pascal Bonnefoy, the former butler of L’Oreal heiress, Liliane Bettencourt, has been charged with violating her privacy after he secretly recorded her conversations with advisers to prove they may have been manipulating his aged employer. He handed the information over to his employer’s daughter who was attempting to stop others from taking advantage of her mother.

Was he correct to have done this? It is a good example of a tricky, real-life situation with various angles to consider. Please feel free to write your thoughts.

One angle is that of ethics, and this is raised, also, in the matter of the upcoming movie, The Butler, about Eugene Allen, the White House butler between 1952 to 1986. Forest  Whitaker will portray him and Oprah Winfrey is apparently playing Mrs. Allen,  with Jane Fonda, Hugh Jackman, Liam Neeson, and John Cusack reportedly portraying various presidents and their wives. This much may not be so new, but the movie does include interplay with the butler’s son, who is an activist who is repeatedly arrested, and which does rub off on the butler toward the end of his life—even though, naturally, he is a conformist—when he makes a decision to fight (according to Forest Whitaker). This theme repeats one first broached in Remains of the Day, when fellow butler Mr. Benn questions Mr. Steven’s blind support for questionable activities on the part of his employer.


Butlers, Real and Unreal

The Jerusalem Post carries a story entitled “An Executive Butler” which describes an enterprising gentleman who runs a cleaning company and concierge service.

Similarly, Glenn Close’s excellent performance as a hotel waiter in Albert Nobb has the character still being described repeatedly in much of the media as “a butler.”

A good article on Sean Davoren, Head Butler at the Savoy in London.

Cigars, Part III

frankmitchell The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, February, 2012 by Frank Mitchell 

Harvesting & Processing Tobacco Part 2

For the next step in the process, the tobacco will typically travel to the factory where it will be rolled into cigars. Here the leaves are sorted according to how they will be used; small or broken leaves for the filler, large course leaves for the binder, and large fine (often shade-grown) leaves for the wrapper.

Tobacco leaf sorting equipment (photo: Words & Images)

Each type is collected into bunches of 10 -15 leaves called “hands” and placed together with similar leaves to ferment. The leaves may ferment in a wooden box or cask called a hogshead, or they may be moistened and stitched up in a burlap-covered bale. In the 18th century, hogsheads were popular for shipping, as the tobacco packed in the New World would ferment en-route to the cigar-making establishments in Europe.

Tobacco press and weighing equipment (photo: Words & Images)


For cigars rolled in the country of origin, fermentation took place in the cool cellars of the tobacco rolling factories. These cellars are still used for some Cuban brands today as the temperature inside remains fairly constant, making them ideal for the task.

The fermentation process must be closely watched. If fermentation is allowed to accelerate, the temperature in the bale will rise too high, damaging the tobacco. The bale will often be pulled open and inspected over the years – the leaves being turned over and moistened again if necessary. If the temperature and humidity is not controlled properly, the leaves will either rot or disintegrate.

Fermentation can take as little as six months, but for fine cigars it usually takes anything from two to five years. Of all the tobacco production processes, none has as much effect on the flavour, aroma and burning characteristics as the fermenting process.

Once the tobacco has been fermented, it is ready for rolling. The bales or hogsheads are broken up and the leaves separated. The spine of the leaf must be removed to allow the leaf to burn evenly. This can either be done with a treadle-operated machine, or by hand with a knife mounted on a thimble—a small cut being made near the tip of the leaf and the spine pulled down. The cut leaves are stacked in piles called books or pads and may even be wrapped up in bales for further fermentation.

When the leaves are ready finally for rolling into cigars, the bales will be broken up for the last time and the leaves steamed to restore lost humidity before they are sorted yet again.

Before the finished cigars are shipped, they will be sorted a few more times and graded—a process requiring great skill and experience (most visitors to cigar factories are not able to see any difference between the leaves in adjacent piles), thereby contributing to the quality and consistency of the final product. A fine, handmade cigar costs as much as it does in part because it will have been handled by as many as forty pairs of hands before the consumer ever smokes it.

Next month we look at an even more advanced skill, that of rolling the cigar.

Let’s Talk about Wine, Part V

Amer1x1inch The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, February, 2012 by Amer Vargas 

Champagne, Part II

So, what does “Méthode Champenoise” involve today? The starting point is the same as any wine making, that is, harvesting the best grapes at the right time after months of very attentive care, and taking them for pressing shortly thereafter. For Champagne, the harvest is carried out earlier than grapes for other kinds of wine, to take advantage of the low levels of sugar and the higher levels of acidity. Then, with regards to the pressing, in the case of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier it’s done without allowing the must to stay in contact with the skins, so that it doesn’t extract the color—except in the case of musts that are used to make pink Champagne. The first 2,050 liters out of 4000 kg of grapes is called cuvee and is the must that will produce better and more delicate wines, whilst the must after that, called taille (tail), produces coarser wines. Some vintners use only cuvées to produce their champagne, which assures a very high-quality libation.

Vary rarely, the musts are fermented in barrels, as stainless steel tanks allow a tighter control of the changes in the first fermentation that lasts around 15 days.

After the first fermentation, vintners decide whether to bottle the wine on their own or make a cuvée  (yes, like the first wine coming out of a batch of grapes), meaning blending the wine of one main varietals with other wines from the other main varietals, or with a very little percentage of a different grape.

From here on, the wine will age in the bottle after adding a little bit of rock sugar and a few grams of yeast. The bottle is topped with a crown cap and allowed to age no less than 15 months for non-vintage (wines from different years) or three years or more for vintage (wines from a particular, generally excellent, year).

What happens is that the yeasts will develop in the wine and so produce carbon dioxide. As the gas cannot escape, the C02 dissolves in the liquid and thus Champagne acquires its characteristic effervescent condition.

As Dom Pérignon improved, the bottles that hold Champagne (and generally speaking, any sparkling wine) are a bit thicker than the regular wine bottles, having a “dome” at the bottom called a “punt” that increases the strength of the bottle base to prevent it from exploding.
The second fermentation starts with the bottles lying horizontally, and during the ensuing, months, their position is changed until they finish vertical and upside down; at the same time, either mechanically or manually, the bottles are twisted so that the lees (remains of yeasts and sugars) accumulate in the neck of the bottle, forming a debris cap.

When the second fermentation has finished, the neck of the bottle is frozen in order to solidify this debris, the crown cap is removed, and the pressure inside the bottle forces out the debris.

Care of Silver

 by Jeffrey Herman

Silver Terminology


Tarnish on silver is a thin layer of mainly of black silver sulfide caused by the silver’s chemical reaction with sulfur-containing compounds such as hydrogen sulfide in the air. Tarnish appears as a yellow, gray, or black film on objects, and the corrosion process slows as the silver sulfide layer thickens. Clean silver tarnishes more rapidly than tarnished silver.

For complete instructions on how to remove tarnish and enjoy using your silver with little or no care, please visit my Silver Care Guide. If you have questions not addressed on that page, please feel free to contact me.


In the decorative metals world, patina can mean:

(1) The fine scratches on an object that have developed over time from its handling and polishing;

(2) The natural darkening that occurs in the recesses of ornamental pieces and engraving; or

(3) An applied chemical used to color metal.

 The coffeepot pictured below was cleaned with Tarn-X, which removed the factory-applied coloring.

The next image illustrates how the restoration of the factory-applied blackening in the recesses makes the design “pop.”

Next month, Mr. Herman will discuss the lacquering of silver in an effort to prevent tarnishing, and how to remove that lacquer.

Mr. Herman is the owner of Jeffrey Herman Silver Restoration & Conservation located in West Warwick, RI. He can be contacted via email or by phone 1-800-339-0417. Or visit his website at

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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.




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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 7, issue 9

 International Institute of Modern Butlers

Message from the Chairman

 Sorry, we keep trying to keep these newsletters short, but there is too much to talk about. Hope you enjoy this  issue.
I read in the news of something untoward happening as a result of Hurricane Irene, to a Mr. Butler from  Tuxedo in New York. What stories names tell! We do not have to go out on a limb to divine how Mr. Butler’s  family acquired its name. There are only ninety names more popular in the United States than “Butler,” making  it a rather common name despite the relatively few butlers that have existed through the ages. “Smith” is the #1  name in the U.S. in terms of frequency, perhaps because there was a smith on every corner in times gone by—  compared with a garage/gas station and pharmacy today. Maybe in a few hundred years, the “Drug” or “Gas”  families will be the #1 names!

But actually, what caught my interest more was how the town of Tuxedo earned its name. Not Tuxedo Junction, but Tuxedo, a place that a hundred years ago was one of the popular summer getaways for New York society. It also housed and still houses a chimpanzee center, one of which is reported to have presented itself at City Hall wearing a tuxedo and swinging a bamboo cane. Dog shows, horse shows, balls, the place has quite a history, none of which I am making up.

In the case of the Tuxedo, the town was not named after the garment, but the garment after the town! In 1860, the British started to wear less formal evening wear when at less formal occasions in the country, preferring a smoking jacket made of materials similar to the formal tails. The Prince of Wales invited New York millionaire, James Potter, to his Norfolk hunting estate and recommended his Saville Row tailor. Mr. Potter went to London to be fitted and brought the dinner suit back home to Tuxedo Park Club, a newly established residential country club for New York’s elite, where the jacket soon proved popular and was exported more broadly to New York society when members would dine in the City and onlookers began to associate the jacket with the club’s name.

None of which tells us where the word “Tuxedo” comes from; only that it was borrowed to describe the garment no doubt every butler has in his closet.

For that, we have to reach into the Native American language, where, possibly because the Algonquian language was not preserved in writing, we find three possible derivations: The Wolf tribe living in that area of New York was called “tuksitby its foes, meaning “round foot” because they tended to fall to the ground in surrender rather too easily. The second, more charitable version, “p’tuksit, refers to the Algonquian word for “wolf” (an animal with round feet). And the third more prosaic possibility relates to the geography of the area, “p’tuck-sepo” referring to a “bend in a river.” The Tuxedo fell victim by 1922 to the tendency to shorten in the interests of speed, giving us the “Tux.”


We have just concluded the first part of the first phase of training for a cruise line in the Bahamas and Bermuda: never knew 6,000 sq. ft. “cabins” were available. Frank is taking a break (from his superior service training of economically disadvantaged youth in South Africa) to conduct a lengthier assignment in the Seychelles; Amer is concluding training of butlers in Morocco; and Steven is in the Maldives again, working on an exciting project in a luxury chain in the Maldives.  

Interesting Links & Media Coverage

News of the gyrations of the World Bank and other bankers as they try to prevent the implosion of the European and American economies and the economic system they have created rather extravagently based on fluff instead of real production, has been flanked by a few pieces in other media about the impact of the current economic policies on the poor and rich alike.

In Mass Marketing Goes Platinum, iconclast Jim Hightower wrote an article that confirms what Elite Traveler  has been crowing over somewhat gleefully  for at least three years without break: the mass affluent as a group of employers and spenders is no more. Advertising Age, the marketing industry’s top publication, says the richest 10% of households accounts for nearly half of all consumer spending today, and the very wealthiest of these should be targetted by advertizers: the rest—any household making less than $200,000 a year—are too poor to bother with.

To this, we can add an article entitled “Economist’s Advice for the Unemployed: Become a Butler”   “According to The Economist  the planet’s wealthiest have tons of money but little time to enjoy themselves. That means a job that can’t be outsourced could trickle down to you.” Quoting Clive McGonigal’s Butler Bureau web site, the article says high salaries are waiting anyone who graduates from a butler school and “Once you have completed your training and perfected your faux British accent, a domestic staffing agency can help you find a home, since the global elite don’t bother with Craigslist…. Will we all end up working as servants on a rich person’s plantation?”

It makes interesting reading, but it is sadly lacking in research.

Of course, positions are still offered to those qualified, such as The Queen of England’s search for a trainee butler—pay not of the amounts touted in the above article, but £15,000 a year, plus free accommodation. The Queen requires someone who is “friendly, polite and of approachable disposition with the ability to be discreet and maintain confidentiality…an enthusiastic and dedicated individual, currently working within the catering and hospitality sector but looking for a new challenge.”

The job description goes on to explain: “This unique and professional role provides development and career progression opportunities for those willing to work at a number of Royal residences in the UK, where you will carry out a wide range of responsibilities from messenger and valeting duties to food and beverage service.” Duties include “the collection and delivery of tea/coffee trays, breakfast trays, and newspapers for Royal and Household purposes in an efficient and discreet manner…valeting of guests and members of the Royal Household invited to stay with the Royal Family, ensuring that clothes and uniforms are cared for to the highest standards…messenger duties when on duty at Privy Purse Door ensuring that all post, pouches, dispatch boxes and messages are delivered to Members of the Royal Family and employees in a timely manner.” September 19 was the deadline for that position.

Christopher Ely, a former Royal footman, is quoted in The Telegraph commenting on his life in service.

Lastly, a travel writer on highlighted seven luxury resorts where celebrities can go without threat of attack by paparrazzi. No argument with the resorts selected, but there are hundreds of others offering the same level of service and privacy.

Letters to the Editor

“Here’s a new breed of butler I had not heard of before: an emailed advertizement for the Aer Lingus Ancestry Package states: ‘Trace your roots with the help of a Genealogy Butler.’ Best regards,” Werner Leutert

“Firstly I have to congratulate and thank you for the updated and new version of the newsletter and website. Secondly, I have to apologise as I am feeling rather guilty not having done so before, but I took the time to review every link on you website properly and find it amazingly useful, knowledgeable and—well, I have been reading for almost two hours now. It is so comforting to be part of such a successful institute: makes me re-think my role in the industry and somehow I feel I need to become more involved—something inside me is kind of excited and wanting to move forward instead of moving on. Best Regards,” AJS 

The Butler’s Guide to Tea 

 by Frank Mitchell


High and Afternoon Teas

Now that we have our tea equipage sorted out and know how to  prepare a good pot, we need to plan our afternoon tea. On many assignments I have come across hotels serving  an afternoon tea, but promoting it as a high tea. Quite a few chefs that I have worked with in the past have liked  this term so much that I have been unable to dissuade them from using it to refer to an afternoon tea. On more than one occasion this has resulted in a guest complaint, so it is best to get it right.

High Tea is served at a dining table, literally the high table it is named for. Also called a ‘meat tea’, it is an early supper traditionally had by the working classes and should include hearty meat dishes served at a table set with a knife and fork. Clearly canapés do not ‘meat’ this requirement!

Low tea is the tea ‘invented’ by Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford to alleviate the sinking feeling she experienced in the afternoon mid-way between lunch and a fashionably late dinner. Originally served in her boudoir, it is what we now know as afternoon tea and is called a low tea because it is usually served at a coffee table – a low table. Clearly it would not be comfortable to eat any meal from low table requiring the use of a knife and fork. For this reason the fare served at low tea is either finger-food, or is consumed with a cake fork. There are three forms, all named for the foods accompanying the tea.

Cream Tea is the most basic tea and is served with scones, jam and cream – traditionally whipped Devonshire cream.

Light Tea adds pastries to the fare of the cream tea with its scones, jam and cream.

Full Tea includes all the ingredients of the light tea, but adds savouries to the menu.

Just as dinner is served in courses, so tea may be served in courses and, as with dinner, the courses run from savoury to sweet.

All teas are appropriate for an afternoon tea, and as such there are no rules, but do bear in mind that not everyone appreciates the astringency of green tea. Of course one may offer one’s guest a choice and there is no reason you should serve the same tea with each course. In fact, it is far better to match the tea served with each course to the food in that course. A light afternoon tea such as Darjeeling is quite splendid with cucumber sandwiches, but might be overwhelmed by the fully flavoured meat dishes of a high tea. For these dishes one should rather consider Earl Grey, Lapsang Souchong or Kenya tea.

Jane Pettigrew publishes a very useful tea and food pairing list in page 71 of her book “The Connoisseur’s Guide to Tea’. I cannot recommend this book more highly and would urge any butler to add it to their library.

 A few pointers and tips

Plan ahead and start your preparations well in advance. Tea should be a relaxed affair and should guests notice that you are rushed, it will almost certainly spoil the experience for them. Make sure there are no last-minute crises in the kitchen!

Probably because afternoon tea is attributed to the Duchess of Bedford, one is inclined to consider it a social event primarily for the ladies. This means that while the tea or coffee service used after dinner is quite formal, the appropriate tea service for the afternoon is usually decorated with flowers or soft pastel colours. Dainty embroidered napkins are called for and no tea table would be complete without a beautifully arranged bowl of flowers.

Whether male or female, the butler should always seek the permission of the lady of the house before pouring the tea. Bear in mind that it is actually her duty and that you may not take it upon yourself to serve without her permission. Lastly, serving at a low table can be a challenge – take care not to bump into anyone and always bend at the knee lest you unwittingly present your posterior to a guest.

Assist by passing out cups and plates, helping guests reach items and making sure that everyone has a fork and napkin. Then retire to the kitchen with both teapots to prepare for the next course.

Champagne—An English Product

By Wayne Fitzharris, International Guild of Butlers and Household Managers

As much as the French may be surprised to know, particularly the purveyors of the myth that Dom Perignon was the sole creator of champagne—the man who created the bubbles  in the bottle—thirty years before the French made their first sparkling wine and seventy years before  the first Champagne House was established in Champagne—the English were producing sparkling wines.

How come?

The British invented the toughened glass that allows the  secondary fermentation process to take place without the bottle exploding. A Christopher Merritt wrote a paper for the Royal Society entitled The Ordering of Wines which refers to the making of sparkling wines by English wine coopers as an  established practice. While they were doing so, according to written records, Dom Perignon was busy trying to  stop the wine fermenting in the bottle. That the French perfected the process for making champagne is still true and appreciated, but without the Brits, famous for their tea, not their wines (even though they have been growing them off and on since Roman times), the whole concept of sparkling wines would not have been possible.

 Hangers & hangers

  Part 2 of 3, by Amer Vargas

The standard hanger measures 16-18 inches in width. Its height can vary from 11 to 7 inches, measured from the top of  the hook to its “feet.” Plastic and wooden hangers can be flat or contoured so as to copy the shoulder-nape-opposite shoulder line of the body. Contoured hangers are very often padded, which means that the ends are wider so as to allow better support of the coat or jacket or other garment being stored on it.

Some examples of the most common hangers

The simple hanger is used to accommodate anything that is worn on the upper part of the body, such as shirts, blouses, waistcoats, coats, jackets, bathrobes and gowns. Sometimes they are provided with a notch designed to fit shoulder straps. Satin padded versions are generally reserved for ladies’ more delicate and intimate wear, such as light gowns, baby-doll pajamas and some articles of lingerie.

Horizontal-rod hangers are intended exclusively for trousers and some accessories (like ties), whilst clip hangers usually allow for the clips to slide sideways so as to better fit the hems of trousers or the waistband of skirts.

There are two types of clamp hangers: one is equipped with long clamping bars, whilst the other is equipped with short ones; the first is intended for skirts, whilst the second type is for trousers. These different clamp hangers are very commonly provided with non-slip grips made out of rubber, velvet, foam or plastic, to prevent clothing from slipping out of the clamp and falling.

Suit hangers are one of the best choices for all kind of wardrobes, as the possibility of hanging a top and a bottom on one hanger means you’re making the best use of wardrobe space. Besides, it is handier and tidier to have a suit (jacket and trousers) together on a single hanger than to keep it on separate hangers.

Other sorts of hangers are intended to hang several trousers at once, or several ties (or other similar accessories) or even shoes, although this last option might not be the best way of storing shoes, so take care when selecting such specialized hangers.

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to continue to receive these newsletters.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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