Butler training Mixology Newsletter

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, July 2015, International Institute of Modern Butlers

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 11, issue 7

International Institute of Modern Butlers

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

In the last Journal, I touched upon the subject of robots: “If I speak untruths, then roll on the great wave of “butler robots” that science is striving so hard to create for us—a mechanistic and ordered society where mankind is an impediment to be tolerated in part. For surely, these robots will win the day: their knowledge will be as firmly fixed as the software engineers who write their code; and they, indeed, unless we change our understandings and skill levels, will be superior to those annoying, fussy, and fickle hominid butlers who used to strut their stuff until the mid-21st Century.”

That editorial was timely, in that five more articles on the same subject appeared in the last month; One predicting massive social unrest as the drive to increase efficiency and lower costs will see robots taking over “low-wage” jobs in multiple industries (presumably the next step after, and even better than, Chinese laborers); the claim is that only 10% of jobs that can be automated have been so far. An Australian study predicts 40% of jobs will be lost by humans and taken over by robots in the next 10-15 years. Robots are already taking the place of humans as waitresses and hoteliers in Asia.

Wilson, the volleyball companion for Tom Hanks in tThe Castaway
Wilson, the volleyball companion for Tom Hanks in The Castaway

Accountants and telemarketing roles are most at risk, while people who do more creative jobs are less likely to be put out of work by machines. An Oxford University study predicted  that Personal Care Aides, for instance, have a 73.6 chance of being automated. But if your position requires you to come up with clever solutions, to help others personally, and to negotiate, then there is less likelihood that your position can or will be automated. All of which aligns with earlier MBJ editorials: certain aspects of butler jobs can be done by robots, but the position of a live butler handling real people is safe in human hands for the simple reason that most humans like to communicate and deal with real people—there is only so much a robot can do to interact with feeling, intelligence, and compassion. As much as one programs emotions and feelings into a robot, the fact is that they are faked and about as satisfactory to a human as the basketball was to Tom Hanks in the movie, The Castaway.

Tesla founder, Elon Musk, and Stephen Hawking are warning about the unintended consequences stemming from the blind pursuit of AI technology by corporate and military interests. While this may pose a danger to the human race, the article entitled, Doctor, Butler & Bodyguard: UntitledMeet the Futuristic Robot that Does It All throws down the gauntlet or writes plainly on the wall in the Butler’s Pantry. ThePartner (photo on right) mimics human movements. Says the creator, “We printed ThePartner on my home 3-D printer, using open-source code. We used recycled parts, like an old curtain rod and toy tractor wheels for the ‘legs.’ Next, we started controlling the robot’s movement using microcontrollers.” In other words, if some hobbyists can do that, then imagine what Google’s and others’ billions being invested in Artificial Intelligence are going to create in the decades ahead.

All of which is to say that any butler manager who is alive and focused on service, rather than being a symbol, will have no trouble keeping his or her job.

Butlers in the Media

Bin Butler

Butlers as a concept keep being used to elevate the banal into something special, such as the Beach Butler service in California that provides a “dedicated butler to setup a beach chair, table and umbrella at a designated time and location, deliver tanning products, chilled beverages and food so that clients will never have to leave their towel. When ready to leave, we do the clean up, so you don’t have to.”

Then we have the Bike Butler—a stand for a bicycle. And let’s not forget Reiner, the Bin Butler in Berlin, pictured on the right. And if you happen to want someone to deliver groceries in Australia, then you may want to contact The Grocery Butler.

Here is one that is a bit more on target—possibly even being a butler: the Marina Butler at a Kempinski hotel in Bodrum, Turkey, who welcomes visitors sailing into the marina with a bottle of champagne on arrival, or arranges lunch, watersports, spa treatments or private catering on the yacht if they were to call ahead.

There is now an Assistant service called Alfred (as in Batman’s butler) for time-crunched Boston and New York executives who need help with groceries, laundry pick-up, etc.

And how about The Black Butler—a musical related to Japanese manga and anime sub-culture that perplexes the editor, but some Japanese seem to enjoy the self-conscious, un-butlerish posing and posturing that seems to be a trademark of the genre.

Lastly, an article about whether a Russian butler assassinated the Indian Prime Minister in 1966.

KnibLetters to the Editor

“I have been in the service industry for a little over nine years; I started as a busser with my company when I was sixteen years old and moved my way up to eventually becoming the Head Butler for the resort. When we first began the butler program back in February of 2014, Mr. Ferry came to our resort and taught me how to be a proper butler. During the course he showed me that there is a scale or gradation of emotions, which I had never seen before. I immediately became intrigued by it and saw the importance of learning and using this tool, how critical it is to the service industry, let alone the butler world.
“I began to use the scale on my family and team members. One example was a team member who clearly had a tone of anger; everyday he would come up to me to complain about something. One day, when he came up to me, I switched my tone to boredom towards his reason of complaining; he almost immediately came up the scale. Another example of using the scale was with a guest who is known to be angry and yell about any issue she encounters. During the orientation of her villa, she found an issue and went into a rage. Using the scale, I switched my tone to antagonism towards the issue, and she quickly became disinterested. The emotional scale is the one tool that I believe any member of the service industry should know and learn to use. Not a day goes by in my life that I don’t use it. It has helped me become the butler that I am.” JY.
Ed’s note: Mr. Yalda is a good example of the Modern Butler in the hotel environment: He lives his life to the full, and that means, when on the job (which is close to 24/7/365, because he loves it so) as Head Butler at Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa in Las Vegas, he focuses completely on taking ownership of his guest(s) and making their lives memorable and flow smoothly. As a result, they show their appreciation: which, when it involves comments, fuels his passion; and when it happens to involve tips, means he can afford and enjoy driving the fastest car on the road (one of his  passions). What goes around, comes around, and what Mr. Yalda puts out is a creativity and support for all those he meets, to make their lives better.


More Little Butler Touches—Soap Carvings 

From Mr. Kobi in Florida

From Mr. Kobi in Florida

Kobe soap


The exclusive Dorado Beach Ritz Carlton Reserve in Puerto Rico is looking for butlers (Embajadors). They will train anyone qualifying (must be a US-citizen or Green Card Holder), who has a minimum of one year experience as a Hotel, Cruise, or Condo Butler, or two years in the Hospitality industry (hotels/restaurants, or Cruise lines). For more information, please send request and your current CV/resume to the head butler Mr. Arora (Paawan.Arora at

Amer1x1inch The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012

Let’s Talk about Mixology, Part 2

by Amer Vargas 

The Manhattan

Today we will look at one of the most famous cocktails worldwide, considered by the International Bartenders Association to be a classic that all barmen (and butlers) worth their salt, should know.

The Manhattan cocktail seems to have its origins some time in the mid-nineteenth century in the New York region, where it became a very fashionable drink and the trend spread across the US to Hollywood stars, who made it even more popular in movies as the choice drink for handsome main characters.

It is also known that people from the island of Föhr, in the north-west of Germany, immigrated during the nineteenth century to New York and learned about the drink; they developed a real liking for it and took it back home—which explains why today, the mix is commonly available in most cafe’s and restaurants on the island.

Manhattan cocktail, photo by Naotake Murayama
Manhattan cocktail, photo by Naotake Murayama

The preparation of the Manhattan cocktail is really simple: it involves rye whiskey (the most common variation available in nineteenth century New York), red vermouth, bitters and maraschino cherry.

Pour the following over a lot of ice (cubes) in a shaker: 5cl/1.7oz of American rye whisky (although these days, it is common to see it prepared with Bourbon or Canadian whisky), 2cl/0.65oz of red vermouth and one or two dashes of bitters. In the old days, it was said it should only be stirred, but nowadays it is also acceptable to shake it. Strain in a chilled cocktail glass and finish with a maraschino cherry (which must be dried first, so as not to over-sweeten the mix).

As is always the case, the quality of the ingredients determine the quality of the final drink. This will not only be detectable on the palate, but may also be obvious to the eye: if you use poor quality ingredients and shake the mix, a little foam or froth will form that will spoil the look of the drink. Whether shaken or stirred, in all cases, the final Manhattan should be transparent with a caramel color.

And that is the straight Manhattan. Variations exist to please everybody: the Dry Manhattan replaces the red vermouth with a dry vermouth; the Perfect Manhattan replaces the red vermouth with equal parts of dry vermouth and red vermouth  (1cl/0,33oz of each); the Brandy Manhattan uses Brandy instead of whisky; the Cuban Manhattan is like a Perfect Manhattan—remember, with both red and dry vermouth—but uses a dark Cuban rum instead of whisky; and finally, the Tijuana Manhattan replaces the whisky with añejo (aged) Tequila.

Make your choice and sip along…Cheers!

Mr. Vargas is the Institute’s Vice President for Europe and can be contacted via AmerVargas at

Recent Training and Graduates

Nizuc graduation

Cancun in Mexico has a fairly recent addition, Nizuc Resort and Spa, which has several world-class restaurants, one of the top Spas in the world, and a butler service that is serious about expanding into the full range of services. Mr. Ferry recently trained there and is pictured here with all the graduates.

Of Butlers and Roses, Part 15 of 20

by GJ dePillis

The Right Tool for the Job

Why do gardners need good clippers for roses when it is time to prune back branches or clip roses for a vase ?  Can’t they just use anything that cuts?  No. The reason is because a clean cut is needed. Any squashing or crimping of the stem damages it and shortens the life of the rose when it is placed in a vase.

When just starting out, you may want to use the cheaper, Chinese made Fiskar clippers.  But then, again, you may not! Felco is the better quality, Swiss-made brand, costing $50-60 USD and promoted on most Rose Society pages — in part because it also acts as a wire cutter (there is a notch in the blade for this purpose).  Felco invented the more ergonomic “rotating handle”that rolls in the hand when opening and closing the clippers, thereby easing tension in the hands when doing a lot of clipping.

The Felco offers a USA-made holster to keep the shears on a belt and comes with a key to take it apart, clean it, sharpen and reassemble it.

Tool shed SeaWorld San Diego-2Tool shed SeaWorld San Diego-1Tool shed SeaWorld San Diego-3

The pictures above show typical gardening tools, as seen at Sea World, San Diego. Remember that, unless you live in a very dry climate, blades do rust if left outside and should always be kept clean and stored in a shed.

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

Jeff Herman

 Consulting the Silver Expert

 by Jeffrey Herman

Q: Does silica gel serve the same purpose as 3M Anti-Tarnish strips, or should I use both?

A: The strips absorb tarnish-producing pollutants; the gel controls the humidity that contributes to the acceleration of tarnish. I always advise using both.

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

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, March 2015, International Institute of Modern Butlers

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 11, issue 3

International Institute of Modern Butlers

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

In private service, we each have standards we have set and look for in those who are about to employ us, which we balance against various factors to decide in the end whether or not we want to work for that employer. Hopefully, we do not have our backs against the wall financially to the extent that we are obliged to accept any position offered, no matter that alarm bells may be ringing.

There is one employer characteristic that bears highlighting, however, because it is an alarm bell so strident that it might be wise to heed it, no matter how many bill collectors are at the door.

Nobility of old in Europe, and the “nouveau riche” merchants, such as the Rothschilds, were at pains to differentiate themselves from “commoners” — people they regarded as fundamentally inferior and even degraded. Perhaps surprisingly in our supposedly enlightened age, one still sees this impulse and mindset today in prospective employers of household staff, sometimes openly expressed, but usually well masked. Their own staff can sometimes be heard expressing the same opinions, having mentally fallen into the mindset of their employer.

One etiquette consultant for one of the most influential people in the world hosted just such a point of view—a scathing horror of anything that was not “above the salt” (from Mediaeval times, when the order of precedence at the lord’s table had those of inferior rank sitting below where the salt was placed). The result was an unprecedented exodus of staff (they were not sufficiently “pretty” or “handsome” to be acceptable to the client and guests, etc.) and a reputation at the property that made it hard to hire more—the alarm bell had been sounded for other potential employees in the area.

The problem with this judgmental approach to other people is that it invariably results in the demise of the haughty person him- or herself, as he or she is continuously causing harm to others. And funnily enough, that person himself or herself becomes more degraded than the people he or she vilifies for the simple reason that this is what happens to people who cause harm. The person digs his own grave, sneer by sneer, and whether it be a colleague or an employer, the end result is a far-from-optimum work environment.

As a note, the private-service world is a microcosm for the world at large, where the impulse to denigrate others has existed, and still does exist, in individuals and groups who work hard to raise their own idea of their own importance and value through the mechanism of sneering at others, and finding cause in those sneers to then target those others. Take the militarization of the police in the US, which has been accompanied by consultants and trainers advising the police that the real enemy is not the criminal, but the amorphous terrorist; police undergoing the training are told that a terrorist lurks in the bosom of every American. In other words, the police have been redirected from targeting criminals to the much more easily targeted, socially upright citizen. Just as you probably see this as a topsy-turvey/upside-down state of affairs, so, too, is the employer who insists on elevating his own importance by sneering at his employees, instead of considering them as fellow human beings who, just as the employer himself does, tend to perform better and rise to the occasion by encouragement.

Able individuals and employers manage their areas competently, without any effort to denigrate others, and those are the employers who receive good and cheerful service, because as the cliché goes, what goes around, comes around.

My advice is to be on the lookout for any supercilious (behaving or looking as though one thinks one is superior to others, from Latin supercilious meaning haughty, itself from super cilium meaning eyebrow—as in that dreaded “raised eyebrow” signal) signs and attitudes during the interview process, and politely decline should you notice it—for it will mean a life of unappreciated servitude—that is, of course, unless that is the life you want.

Butlers in the Media

We’ve never given much airtime to Butlers-in-the-Buff, a particularly inappropriate use of the word “butler,” for to dignify them with any airtime at all would be to play into their motif of attracting attention to themselves with nothing more valuable than the titillation and licentiousness (promoting or engaging in temporary sex with many) that they offer, and using our profession, which stands for the opposite, to do so. A recent article recently excoriated (roundly criticized) B-in-the-B for teaming up with a bath company to offer single ladies baths on Valentine’s Day. As B-in-the-B have joined the ranks of the oldest profession, they will probably be with us for a while longer, but as they become increasingly desperate to stay relevant while offering so little, their demise as an apparent front group for our profession can be predicted with some degree of certainty.

This month’s cataloging of items drawing upon our profession during the marketing process includes a Chinese made, discounted “3-in-1 Mixer, Coffee Grinder & Food Processor” Butler; a Chinese mobile-laundry service called “Bear Butler,” complete with a photograph of a black bear wearing a black top hat; and the requisite Butler robots: Care-o-bot from Germany, retailing for $250,000 approximately, that will fetch drinks, answer the door, and take out the rubbish/trash.

Care-o-bot, the flirty robot butler from Germany
Care-o-bot, the flirty robot butler from Germany

At such prices, maybe they do perform a service for the profession: making it clear to potential and current employers  what a good deal their human butlers are. The other robot butler that made the news was a cut-rate model called Origibot, retailing for $900 approximately, with the owner’s iPAD/tablet being inserted for the head, and offering to bring things it can grasp in its one hand.

Knib Letters to the Editor

I am eager to transition my career to domestic service. I hold a degree and several years experience in Culinary Arts and am seeking a position which will allow me to demonstrate those skills as well as provide further service as a House Manager or the like. Can you recommend a course of action? Do you know of any Butler apprenticeships to be found? GJ

Ed: Thanks for reaching out and sharing your goals. Before embarking on an apprenticeship as a butler, you really need to train as one first. You have two basic options: attend a school for a couple of months (usually in the 20K range) or do a correspondence course through the Institute (2.5K) that takes about 3 months of intense study, or can be done at a more leisurely pace while continuing to work. At the end of either path, you will have a certificate, a certain amount of knowledge, and the promise (not guarantee) to help in your search for a position. Many employers prefer someone with experience, but some are willing to take on those who have finished some schooling. You obviously have an advantage in that you have the culinary skills that would augment a butler position, or vice versa. Key is building the resume in whatever way you can as an estate manager/butler, and we would be quite optimistic about your success, given your intention/drive and past service experience. 

Amer1x1inch The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012

Let’s Talk about Spirits, Part 13

by Amer Vargas 


Today we travel to Asia to learn about Arrack—not to be confused with Arak, which is a raki-, ouzo-, or pastis-like, grape-based, anise drink.

Although nowadays arrack is the name of the particular drink we are about to discuss, in the past the word referred to any distilled spirit, as recorded by an English explorer in the Indies, who wrote in the nineteenth century: “The natives call our gin, English arrack.”

It is understandable that the concept of Arrack has changed over time, as it is known to be one of the oldest distilled spirits in the world.

Anyway, back to the present, Arrack is a very well-known liquor produced in different countries of Asia, mostly in India, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Java (an island in Indonesia), each of these countries providing a special character to their spirit.

In general, we talk about two kinds of Arrack: Batavia Arrack and Ceylon Arrack.

Batavia Arrack BottleBatavia Arrack is named after Batavia, the old name for Djakarta, the capital city of the island of Java. This Arrack is made from a mash consisting of molasses (the by-product of refining sugarcane) and water, to which are added dried cakes of red rice and other botanicals, and a measure of yeast and fungi spores that ferment the mixture. Once the mash is fermented, it undergoes distillation in traditional pot stills. The final drink is a transparent and clear spirit with a full-bodied, sharp and herbaceous, sour taste with a long, oily finish. As it is not too pleasant when taken straight, it is commonly used in mixers and cocktails. Its final presentation contains an average alcohol by volume of 50%.

Arrack Pots, photo by Terry Feuerborn
Arrack Pots, photo by Terry Feuerborn

Ceylon Arrack, on the other hand, derives its name from what British colonizers called the island of Sri Lanka at the beginning of the nineteenth century—the name being changed to Sri Lanka in 1972. The production of this Arrack is completely different to that of its Batavia counterpart, because the main ingredient is the sap from coconut palms. The sap is extracted by “toddy tappers” (‘toddy’ is the name given to the coconut palm-tree sap after fermentation; ‘tappers’ because these men make cuts in the flower stems at the top of the coconut palms and then tap them to induce the sap to flow. Tappers gather the sap in receptacles they attach to their waists.

Ceylon Arrack bottle, photo by AlMare
Ceylon Arrack, photo by AlMare

The sap collection is commonly conducted during the morning hours, in order to allow the heat of the day to turn on the fermentation process by the action of the yeasts present in the sap itself. In a matter of hours, the sap turns from a slightly sweet, milky water, into the (sort of) palm wine called toddy. After processing the toddy through column stills, the spirit is ready to be mixed with water to achieve 40% alcohol by volume and is then bottled.

The final drink is light amber and golden in color, with a refined, dry taste and a rich and long, buttery finish with sweet aromas that can be enjoyed in many different ways—on the rocks, with water, or with a mixer.

Your turn: Batavia or Ceylon? Enjoy!


Mr. Vargas is the Institute’s Vice President for Europe and can be contacted via AmerVargas at

ratliff headshotWhen it Comes to Housekeeping

by Professor Richard Ratliff 

The Secret to Housekeeping Success

The reputation of feather dusters has taken a beating in recent years. With one exception, the criticism may be well deserved. But the one exception is a big one—the ostrich feather duster. I am told that darker feathers are better than lighter ones. The feathers in my duster are black.

I have tried cotton, soft wool, and microfiber dusting rags. I have tried dusting mitts in natural and microfiber varieties. I have tried lamb and sheep wool dusters. I have tried feather dusters made of the feathers of various fowl. Rags from cut-up cotton T-shirts, very lightly dampened with water, followed by a quick swipe with a completely dry one, still are a good option. One problem I have found with rags and mitts is that you need something else to get into tight edges and crevices.

But I continue to prefer my old-fashioned ostrich feather duster, with a short wooden handle. It takes only a very light touch and one or two quick passes over a surface for it to be dust free. I use it for any dusting I may do, except for places that are very difficult to reach, which require a long wand.

I have joked that all I need do to dust is walk down the middle of a room and wave my ostrich feather duster in the air. That is not true of course, but it is true that the ostrich feathers seem to magically attract dust, even from the edges of louvered doors and books, venetian blinds, and the crevices of a sculpture and exquisitely carved frames of mirrors and fine art.

Ostrich feathers are easy to clean. Just shake the collected dust from the duster into a trash bin. Occasionally, the duster should be washed in a mild detergent. Shake the feathers around in the soapy water several times, squeeze the soapy water out (do not twist the feathers—just squeeze, or you will break the feathers), rinse two or three times in clear water, squeeze out the rinse water, and set the duster up to dry. Good as new! Once in a great while, I rub a little oil into the wooden handle.

No matter what duster you may prefer, remember that the best duster is the one that is used!


Of Butlers and Roses, Part 11 of 20

by GJ dePillis

Evaluating the Right Rose To Grow- More Thornless Roses

Recently, we discussed heirloom roses and how some of them have thorns and others are thornless, or nearly so.

Here are some tips and information on the planting and care of smooth-touch roses:

  1. Use a moisture meter to determine the best positions for these plants. Stick it in the ground for a reading, and also look for cooler/shadier areas in the garden. Three sources for moisture meters include these models of meters, and the pricier model that the Forestry Service uses, reportedly;
  2. Smooth-touch roses are hardy (able to survive outside during the winter) in Zones 5-11;
  3. In Zones 7 and below, protect the roses over the winter by mulching 12” up the plant;
  4. They prefer 6-7 hours of sun;
  5. When planting, dig a hole approximately twice as wide as the pot and place the plant in the hole. Fill with soil as needed, add rose food, and water thoroughly;
  6. These roses will grow to a height and width of 3-4 feet and form a nice, dense bush;
  7. Prune the plant once a year by cutting back to 1/3 its size in the late spring.

To determine which zone you are in, click on the interactive USDA zone map. While each property has its own “micro climate” zone (a slope near a babbling brook will be cooler than a garden near black asphalt, which can make the surrounding areas about 10 degrees hotter), these zones are still good reference points.

For any questions about how to best grow thornless roses and anything related to them, you can contact Ms. Judie Evrard Brower at judie at

A good selection of thornless roses follows:

Roses smooth

Variety name Color Fragrance Notes
Smooth Angel Soft pink Tea rose scent Standard rose
Smooth Velvet Dark pink to red Light sweet scent. Grows to six feet, good for pillar climbing
Smooth Prince Dark cerise pink/red Tea rose scent Repeat blooming. Can grow in a pot
Smooth Ballerina Dark pink with white stripes (Carmine red) Tea rose scent Single and cluster blooms
Smooth Buttercup Yellow Light sweet scent Grows rose clusters
Smooth Queen Dark Yellow Tea rose scent Ruffled edge on petals, cluster booms. Compact bush
Smooth Satin Soft peach-pink Light perfume Blooms vary by climate. Single blooms. Some clusters
Smooth Lady Soft salmon pink Light Tea rose scent Standard rose
Smooth Delight White with hint of pink Light Tea rose scent Dark green leaves. Scented petals.
Smooth Moonlight Soft white with touch of pink on edges Faint scent Open flower style with prominent center stamen.   About twenty petals

Thornless roses are also available in the US at:

  1. Some Lowe’s Home Improvement centers (not in Northern New England, the Gulf Coast, the Rocky Mountain States, Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota and North Dakota);
  2. Online at  or 760-721-7079.
  3. Smooth Touch, which only sells (near) thornless roses; with 25 distributors, there likewise are some regions they do not service;
  4. Contact Jon McGuffin at jon at

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

Jeff Herman

 Consulting the Silver Expert

 by Jeffrey Herman


Q: What’s the difference between machine engraving and hand engraving?

A: Machine engraving isn’t true engraving in the sense that metal isn’t removed, it’s actually burnished (polished by rubbing). That’s why you’ll feel a slight ridge when you run your finger over it. It’s not unlike when you draw a picture in the sand. Hand engraving is the process of cutting shallow lines into metal with a sharp graver, reproducing artwork which has been drawn on a metal article. Unlike machine engraving, hand engraving removes metal when cutting. Bright cutting is another form of engraving which is very reflective because of its flat, angled cut.

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

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, April 2014

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 10, issue 4

International Institute of Modern Butlers

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

Bit of a long Journal this month, introducing  a new column on security issues from Baron James Shortt, and concluding the series by Ms. Gretchen dePillis on what employers look for when hiring butlers, PAs, etc.

Letters to the Editor

“What a wonderful, meaty, and fascinating email this is! I’ve been reading the articles for the last hour. Thank you for the fine work you are doing sharing information that is not readily available out in the world. Bravo!” BLK

“Wow! So good to be receiving the Journal again, thanks!” MDR.

Ed: Imagine reading  letters to the editor like these two, especially after receiving none at all for several months! With a bit of digging, we realized what had been happening: Due to an unsuspected Google software glitch, we had thought the Journal was being delivered  each month whenever the editor pressed “Send.” It turns out they were not, hence our readers received no Journal for half a year, and then suddenly six, plus an article, all at once, when the glitch was remedied! Our mortified digital apologies for this inconvenience, to those who wrote in (thank you), as well as all others who may have thought we had disappeared from the butler world. We haven’t, and we hope this issue will confirm this to be the case.



Thanks to Baron Shortt for sharing this telling cartoon: The editor’s experience validates the general sentiment of misread intentions concerning politeness these days: An older lady, to whom he had offered his seat on the bus from the plane to the terminal at an airport, apparently felt something untoward was occurring, as with a frosty glare, she walked to the other end of the bus as fast as her little old legs could carry her!

Does anyone have similar experiences to share?


“I need a wedding toast for a young couple getting married this weekend, any ideas?” MR

Ed: The below is a pretty good outline—one of the wonders of the Internet—knowledge at one’s fingertips:

1. Consider to whom you are toasting. You can toast to whomever you want, of course, but if the wedding is formal or traditional, there might be some conventions you’re not aware of. Ask around. Here are some guidelines:

  • best man toasts to the bride
  • maid/matron of honor toasts to the groom
  • father of the bride toasts to the couple
  • bride and groom toast to their parents and the guests

2. Clarify your relationship to the couple. Some guests at the wedding might not know who you are, so making this clear at the beginning will avoid any confusion.

3. Give thanks. Show gratitude to whoever is hosting the wedding, whether it’s the parents of the bride or the couple themselves. E.g. “Thank you for welcoming us to this happy occasion, and sharing your joy with us today.”

4. Share an anecdote. Stories of how various parties met are always popular, whether you talk about how the bride and groom met or your first time meeting either of them. Here are some additional ideas:

  • The first time the bride or groom told you about meeting their partner.
  • The first time you realized these people were an important part of your life.
  • A time you got through something together, whether challenging or fun.
  • The story you are looking forward to telling their kids one day.
  • The way you have seen the bride and/or groom change for the better since they met.
  • When you’re 90 and looking back, what would you say of your friendship?
  • Tell a story of some specific detail or action that exemplifies why this person is special in this world, and to you in particular.
  • If you were given three wishes for the couple, what would they be? Be careful with the use of cliché’s here. Don’t use wishes you’ve heard before.
  • Tell about the time your friend saw you through an embarrassing moment. (Careful. Consider the audience).
  • If it’s a second marriage and there are children involved, consider a toast referencing the newly created family.

5. Offer a compliment. Say something nice about the person (or couple) you are toasting to. Although your intentions might be good, don’t go on and on about how great a person is; instead, choose a few appreciate adjectives that go a long way (e.g. “he’s generous, intelligent, and kind”).

6. End the toast on a positive note. Offer a wish, a traditional toast, or a blessing. Here are some ideas:

  • “Here’s to the groom, a man who keeps his head though he loses his heart.”
  • “May she share everything with her husband, including the housework.”
  • “My greatest wish for the two of you is that through the years, your love for each other will so deepen and grow, that years from now you will look back on this day, your wedding day, as the day you loved each other the least.”
  • “May ‘for better or worse’ be far better than worse.”
  • “Here’s to the groom with bride so fair, and here’s to the bride with groom so rare!”
  • “May I see you turn grey, and combing your grandchildren’s hair.”
  • “May you live each day like your last, and live each night like your first.”
  • “May you see each other through many dark days, and make all the rest a little brighter.”
  • “To keep your marriage brimming with love in the wedding cup, whenever you’re wrong, admit it; whenever you’re right, shut up.”
  • “I would like to make a toast to lying, stealing, cheating and drinking. If you’re going to lie, lie for a friend. If you’re going to steal, steal a heart. If your going to cheat, cheat death. And if you’re going to drink, drink with me.”

7.  Indicate the ending of the toast. Finish off with a phrase that’s to be repeated by the guests. For example: “Let us now toast the happiness of Jill and Jack. To Jill and Jack!”

Sample Toast, Best Man to the Bride: “Good evening, everybody. My name is Tim, and I’ve had the pleasure of having Kevin as my closest friend for seven years. I’m honored to be his best man today, and I’d like to offer a toast to his beautiful bride, Alicia. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be here to witness their union, and I’d like to thank her parents, John and Alison, for their grace in welcoming us tonight. 

“The first time Kevin told me he was seeing Alicia, he didn’t even have to tell me anything about her–I knew this girl was different. I could tell from the way his eyes lit up when his phone rang, and it was her. Till that point, I’d never seen him get that excited about anything except football! Then…Kevin started changing. All of a sudden, he had a bounce in his step, a twinkle in his eye, and grin on his face–and he always offered me the last beer instead of hoarding it up for himself! Since he started seeing Alicia, Kevin has been more considerate, thoughtful and motivated than ever.

Alicia, you have deepened Kevin’s appreciation for life in way I never could have predicted. He is steadfast, honest and downright good-looking, and you are his match in every way: dedicated, genuine, and beautiful, inside and out. Thanks to your presence in his life, Kevin is not only a better friend; he’s a better person all around.

Let’s toast to the health, happiness and future of this amazing bride. To Alicia!”

“You’re the best, thank you.” MR


“I would like to know where to purchase dinner serveware–silver platters, cloches,  dinner sets, tea serving trays, etc. of high quality.” ECP

Ed: There may be local resources that can assist you. Have you tried contacting the Old Towne Jewelers on 4th Street? They may not have all you want, but may be able to refer you to other local resources who do or perhaps purchase it on your behalf:

Absent a good local store that sells high quality silver dishes, your best bet would probably be to shop via the Internet. There are stores on-line such as the Silver Gallery ( that seem to have a decent selection of such items and represent several brands, so you have a choice of design, price and quality:

If you know which design companies you like, you may also want to try visiting their websites directly to compare prices and selection, such as the Reed & Barton site:

“Thank you so much.  Each resource you provided was exactly what I needed.” ECP

Butlers in the Media

Bloomberg TV interviews an entrepreneurial individual who became a butler (no formal training, it appears) and then created his own personnel agency. The salaries listed by his agency for butlers ($50-85,000, the same as what is listed for maids and laundresses), and having this position differentiated from Majordomos ($80,000-$130,000) and Estates and Household Managers ($100,000-$200,000) are wildly off and unfortunate, showing no real understanding of the industry.

Along the same lines, a Craigslist advertisement for a butler: is it a sign of the digital times, or of the butler going mainstream and thus downmarket, or just more American misconceptions of what is a butler? Given the starting pay listed, it seems to us that the latter be the main issue here.

Those of us fortunate enough to have tracked down a copy of Agar’s Way and unhappy about continued requests to borrow it, can breathe a sigh of relief: it has now been reprinted. There are few books covering our profession, and this little old gem is well worth adding to your library.

Somewhat unusual requests to hotel concierges that may strike a note for some of the things butlers have been asked to provide, either in private service or in hotels.

The New York Times published a very good article about the “New Domestics,” another take on “Modern Butlers.”

Media coverage on butlers in action or reminiscing in England, Ireland, England again, England again, and a London hotel. No month would be complete without another listing of the high-end services offered in some hotels capitalizing on the reputation of butlers for superior service—as well as the notion of robot butlers—they are certainly becoming increasingly sophisticated, but unfortunately, still missing that little, little ingredient…life.

Baron Shortt

Introducing Baron James Shortt, Executive Director of the IBA, who will be contributing a new column on the subject of:

Executive Protection and Security

Some Tips on Setting up Security in Private Estates

It is well-advised to be safe when traveling  or dining out, but we often let our guard down when we are at home, otherwise known as the Domestic Estate.  What do we need to be aware of when at home?

The first step is to take a good look at your property and the sum total of who or what comes in and goes out.  What workers, suppliers and delivery vehicles come in periodically and what people leave and come back on a regular basis such as domestic help, landscapers, pool maintenance companies, trainers, etc.?

Start with the family members.

They need to be taught not to talk about or disclose any family matters, especially security matters.  This is all well and good in theory, but it is hard to impress upon a 9-year old not to tell her friends her that daddy is going to Africa, or that mommy and daddy went to China and brought her back a cool toy.  It is also hard to keep chatter  and teenage bragging from not slipping out into Facebook (or the many other social networks available), emails etc…  But one must discuss the importance of these security regulations you have at home with kids and teens and even test them once in a while, if you must. Reward them for passing the test and scold them mildly for failing…  Also – create passwords for the home computer network and monitor what the kids are doing on the home network. Sure, they can make mistakes away from home – but you must work with what you can monitor.

All employees that visit the house both periodically and on a regular basis must go through a pre-hire background check and at least one background check every year. As a household professional you can probably do most of the work yourself, but if not, hire a private investigator that specializes in genuine background checks – don’t go for the on-line $75.00 “quick checks”.  It can be a real red-faced moment when your driver turns out to have an undisclosed DUI or a suspended license for not paying a parking ticket…  You get the point, but you need to do the background checks to make 100% sure.

All suppliers should submit the names and information of any regular delivery person or service people that will be allowed on to the grounds BEFORE they start making those deliveries.  Grocery or flower deliveries, plumbers, electricians etc., all have great access and ability to gather information about the family and household once they pass the perimeter.  Other deliveries and package services should be accepted outside the perimeter if at all possible.

With regards to the perimeter, diehard old security guys recommend that a  security fence is essential: it allows you to see out and identify any threat. In this way, you have control over who you let into the grounds.  Before the arrival of excellent and cost-effective security cameras, this was true. But these days, one can easily build a privacy perimeter of bricks, stone, etc., and then simply install a camera through which all visitors can be viewed clearly. Think about installing  a PSIM (Professional Security Integrated Management) System as described by Jules Trocci in a recent edition of Aegis Journal. Use a PSIM  for monitoring  all alarms, cameras, gates, etc…  Also think of putting a camera up well outside the perimeter of your property, if you are able to do so.  It’s always interesting to see the view of your estate from across the street or down the road and this may help to potentially identify anyone monitoring the property or approaching. In some cases, I have seen people using the little drone helicopters for emergency surveillance; they work great – if you have a good pilot!

All personnel should be trained in:  Heimlich Maneuver, advanced first aid, CPR – (cardio pulmonary resuscitation), and a few should be trained as EMTs – Emergency Medical Technicians.  All personnel should have panic buttons on their person that can alert to the nature of an emergency through the PSIM system.  Ideally this panic button should also have an audio function when activated.

All employees should carry encrypted radios to communicate to each other while on the estate – if these radios also have panic button, you get a two-for-one bonus.  They are just a very practical tool for every-day work.  We have all seen it happen – someone on the estate calling someone else on the estate via cell phone – much like your spouse forgetting where she left you when you two went shopping – she just calls your cell – we rely on them as the wonderful tool that they are – but are they really?  The cost of an encrypted radio is so low and also much  safer – make the minor investment.

Also remember – your work needs to be as discrete as possible.  Your job is to make sure your charges are both safe and able to live as freely as possible. Follow these tips in order to enjoy the fruits of a safe home and a safe family.

Rent-a-Butler Assignment

A corporate client has 1-3 day assignments for butlers in the San Francisco, Chicago, and Atlanta areas this month (April). If you live in these areas and can break away, please contact the Institute about this brief opportunity. The client is looking for a “real butler” to make a number of media deliveries while dressed in traditional butler garb, and adding the caché of the real butler to  the PR caper.

Amer1x1inch The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012

Let’s Talk about Spirits, Part 2

by Amer Vargas

Cognac, Part 1

With a history of over eight centuries, brandy has always been linked to luxury and those who love and appreciate the finest and most exquisite pleasures in life.

Wooden Casks at Yerevan Brandy Company, photo by Hayk
Wooden Casks at Yerevan Brandy Company, photo by Hayk

Brandy is produced by distillation, often double distillation, of fermented fruits or cereals. Then, depending on the type of brandy, it is aged in oak barrels anywhere from two to fifty years. After bottling, the drink stops developing and can be enjoyed at room temperature, on the rocks or very chilled, usually as an after-dinner drink, or as an ingredient in a cocktail at any time.

The origin of brandy comes from the dutch brandewijn, meaning ‘burnt wine,’ a spirit produced after distilling wine. Thus, the word brandy by itself always refers to the drink produced out of grapes; other types of brandy require the name of the original ingredient or an adjective to specify what sort of spirit it is, as in the case of fruit brandies like “peach brandy.”

Brandy Pot Stills at Van Ryn Brandy, photo by Dewet
Brandy Pot Stills at Van Ryn Brandy, photo by Dewet

The production of brandy began with the appearance of the first alambiques or copper pot stills, during the 12th century and became very popular in the 14th century, when wine producers were looking for ways to pay less tax for the transportation of wine. One way of achieving this, they thought, was to concentrate the wine in the  casks by removing water, then adding water at the final destination! After a while, they realized that actually, the distilled drink improved during the time spent in transportation, compared to the way wine responded to being transported.

As with wine production, many factors go into to making just a regular or an outstanding drink: First of all, the soils where the plants grow impart their own strength and personality to the fruits or cereals. After crushing the berries, the mash (with or without skins and pips, depending on the type of brandy desired) undergoes fermentation for several days at  tightly controlled temperatures. Then water is evaporated by means of distillation or double distillation and the remaining liquid is then stored in oak casks to age. It’s during this process that the brandy will obtain its aromas, tannins and color.

To present brandy in the bottle at the required levels of alcohol, ranging from 36o-45o, the drink is  balanced out again with water. Some brewers add caramel to emphasize its color, but in amounts that do not affect the taste, or other ingredients such as raisin, almond skins, or vanilla to pamper the most discerning palates.

In the next article we shall talk about brandies from different parts of the world. Until then, light the fireplace, dim the lights, turn on some mellow music, and sniff the brandy before you sip it. Cheers!

Brandy in a Snifter, photo by Szalony Kucharz
Brandy in a Snifter, photo by Szalony Kucharz

Mr. Vargas can be contacted via AmerVargas at 

Perceptions of the Butler (Part 7 of 7)

by GJ dePillis

Q: If you were to grant time off to your butler for a skills-update conference, what would be the optimal length of time for such a conference?

1.      30% of the respondents said they would allow up to one week.

2.      70% said they would allow 3 days or less.

Most employers interviewed do expect a candidate to hone their skills annually in a butler-focused conference.  Every person stressed that they wished their current butler could attend a “one-stop shop” annually in order to learn or polish skills which would help the employer in their personal and business life.

What areas did they mention as requiring further training?

One peculiarity was an employer who wanted their butler to learn how to have a full social schedule on their own time, without involving the employer.

Another person shared a story about their pilot, who was also their chauffeur.  This  was a mistake, apparently, because the pilot knew nothing of maintaining a car and ignored a “check engine” light, eventually burning up the engine block.  It was only after the pilot-turned-driver had been dismissed, that the employer realized the mastery of one craft did not necessarily mean the mastery of the mechanics of another.  This employer  opined that he wished his butler had been trained regularly on basic mechanical duties and maintenance schedules  for all relevant transportation vehicles (boats, cars, planes, and in the case of another employer he knew, a hot air balloon), as well as the various mechanical gadgets and appliances in his homes known to break down repeatedly.

One common request was for the butler to learn skills on pre-mapping  various routes in an area they had never visited before.  Places referenced ranged from a safari in South Africa to travelling to an Old World European city.

When it was suggested to those interviewed that these skills may not be mastered in a once-a-year weekend conference, they stated that they understood that logically, but would want their butler to take action to address these various shortcomings.

Image by John dePillis
Image by John dePillis

In conclusion, the job of a butler is demanding and requires a great deal of organization and finesse, but with the proper training and regular upkeep of skills, one can exceed the employer’s  expectations and have a long and successful career.

To summarize the “ideal butler,” it is a person who is skilled, discrete, honest, and reliable.  They are always well dressed and knowledgeable about fabric and fashion care to make the entire household reflect well on the employer. Ideally, the butler also knows how to fix things on the spot, entertain their employer’s associates and friends properly, and in general, provide a seamlessly organized household to make their employer’s life easier.  Employers are willing to send their trusted staff to short annual seminars to sharpen their skills.  The position of a butler is viewed, in America, as a high-status job opportunity only to be filled by the most elite, well-trained candidates.  Feel proud that you have chosen this profession. Well done!

Thank you for joining us for the final segment of this series of articles on the perceptions of prospective employers regarding prospective and current employees.  We enjoyed finding out the unvarnished truth and hope you did, as well. Ms. dePillis is thanked for her initiative in researching these questions and points, and will be joining us for the next two years with a column on those fine points of light in our lives: roses—so stay tuned.

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

Consulting the Silver Expert

Jeff Herman

 by Jeffrey Herman

Q. Can one replace broken blades in stainless knives?

A. No. Such blades  are fitted and ground to the shape of the handle and are specific to that design: I’m afraid one has to look for a replacement knife.

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

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, January 2014

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 10, issue 1

International Institute of Modern Butlers

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

We would like to offer a “Thank You” and “Farewell” to Ms. Pamela Spruce, who has retired from teaching butlers after many years at the helm of the Australian Butler School. We wish Ms. Spruce well in her new adventures, as well as Mr. Chris Reid, who has taken over the ABS. In Ms. Spruce’s words: “I think we can both be proud of the contribution we have made to the private service industry over the past fifteen-plus  years in the business and trust that younger minds will take what we’ve achieved and build on it with fresh ideas and approaches.”

We were very happy to have stolen a couple of hours with Ms. Spruce (far right) as our paths crossed finally at the airport in Male, Maldives a few months ago—we had been training at resorts just a few miles from each other.














Continuing on the same theme, we would like to thank those who sent in  kind comments on last month’s editorial about keeping work and life upbeat. Perhaps it is fitting that we expand on the message with some comments on the training of butlers today—for while not all trainers are of the caliber of Ms. Spruce, they nonetheless all share a passion for genuinely helping others grow…but a very small minority are not so clear in their intentions, and it is such people I feel it appropriate to discuss in the hope of empowering those they afflict with their training.

As disappointing as life can become sometimes, in truth, it is actually a game where losing or winning are not such dire elements: You lose? No big deal, was the game fun to play? The better games do not require there be losers. And the better players are as happy to win as to lose, as long as the playing was fun and there are plenty more interesting games to play thereafter.

But for some people, the game of life has become desperately serious—they feel so wretched about themselves and others that they have to come out on top, even if it means cheating or hurting others in the process. Being the only recognized player becomes more important than enjoying the game, or taking joy in the contributions of other players, the skills demonstrated by self and others, and the excitement of achieving goals in a cooperative effort.

One may well meet such people when training. A while back, I did. I had left my butler students very excited about the future while I  went to service another client. I returned a few weeks later to complete their training, only to find them all of very low morale and 25% of them having left—and too many of the staff in other departments having left, too.

What had happened?

Another trainer, while claiming repeatedly to be the best trainer in the world, had told all the staff that if they did not do as he/she told them, they would be fired. Everything that they did was, according to this trainer, not good enough and they had been poorly trained;  this opinion was frequently and very loudly made known to them and their colleagues. At the same time, the butlers had been forbidden to practice or use their standard operating procedures from the moment I had left, and instead had been told verbally to perform random, contradictory, and ever-changing procedures. They were punished and shamed in front of others for wrong answers or actions. Tests were rigged for failure.

When two of the butlers rated this trainer’s training poorly in an HR follow-up survey, they were fired. Others just quit rather than face the indignities. And despite never having worked as a butler nor actually training the ones at this location in butler skills, this trainer instructed these butlers to tell guests, when they asked, that they had been trained by him/her.

The managers were unwilling to rein in this individual (because the person apparently represented the owner of the managing company), instead supporting his/her demands and trying to persuade themselves and others that there was nothing that could be done about this individual’s training and management style. Nothing could be further from the truth, however.

Technically, such a being is stuck in the past and fighting some past unknown-to-them-and-everyone-else battle. Life has ceased to be a game, and instead, has become a desperate fight to the finish, where nothing anyone else does can ever be validated as good, and everything is criticized and made nothing of. In a nutshell, other people are completely unimportant and their actions never good enough.

When nothing and nobody are good enough, and therefore dismissed, an individual cuts themselves off from much enjoyment in life—they also happen to share the same mindset as criminals, who are not able truly to enjoy and experience their ill-gotten possessions and who have to insist upon their superiority.

In truth, the best way to control others, including those one is teaching, is with love, affection, two-way communication, trust, and confidence in them—a lesson this person could learn if only they actually cared for their students and were not so sure he/she already knew everything that needed to be known. Teaching can be frustrating, but the trick is to realize that any student who does not “get it” is simply saying, “Teach me in a way I can understand.”

In the years I have been engaged in training and consulting, I have met some strange games being played by a few colleagues (copying others verbatim and then claiming the work/ideas to be their own; training others in the profession without any personal experience in it, etc.), but these are all relatively harmless and make up the giant tapestry of how we as a group pass on skills from generation to generation. Overall, we muddle through and the profession keeps going.

But where an individual specializes in pushing others down, using fear and punishment instead of understanding the dignity, aspirations, decency, and value of each individual they have been charged with educating, then they degrade the game of learning, and the game of life, into an unhappy one. Such people only succeed, they only have power, as long as individuals fail to stand up to them. All the management and staff have to do is to say, “I am sorry, I do not agree with your comments and actions. Please leave.” If the individual won’t, they can simply take whatever (legal) measures are indicated, as such abuses generally violate the laws of the land, quite in addition to any standards of acceptable training in the 21st Century.

“Where there is a will, there is a way,” as the saying goes. But where such individuals have their way, there is no will left in their victims—the life goes out of them, as the under-butler said on his deathbed in Remains of the Day.

I have quite often written about the abuse of people in service and encouraged anyone so abused to move on: we are not yet in a feudal system of service where we work in repressive conditions for little pay and no choice about where we work because the employer owns and controls us like he owns a car or a dog. A case was all over the news this past November of three ladies being coerced into domestic slavery in London for three decades, trapped by their own fear. If they had read one of my books, they might have understood the wicked web being woven by their “employers,” and perhaps acted to free themselves many years earlier.

For if those who abuse are simply left without service, then that cannot be such a bad thing: there are many, many individuals and corporations that provide perfectly good work environments. Being in service means serving from the heart, with passion; when the recipient of such service, or someone claiming to represent them, has lost sight of the fact that life is a fun game in which the server, also, deserves to enjoy life as a fellow player, then the passion is sucked out of the service game and it turns to drudgery and worse.

In this case, I am not encouraging people to move on (it would be silly to leave because of one person in an organization that is otherwise wonderful to be a part of), but to stand together in refusing to cooperate with abusive forms of training—it is not how good butlers or service professionals are made, and not the standard in our profession.

One last point from Emily Post who says in Etiquette, A Guide to Modern Manners, 1922: “Manners are made up of trivialities of deportment which can be easily learned if one does not happen to know them; manner is personality—the outward manifestation of one’s innate character and attitude toward life.”

Good manners flow naturally from good manner, and from abusive manner flow abuses that continue only as long as the recipients feel obligated to play along.

Happy to hear any comments….

 Letters to the editor

A strange letter perhaps, but a picture speaks a thousand words, as the cliche goes, and one might be forgiven for thinking this use of “butler” is just where the idea belongs.













Butlers in the Media

Apple joins the throng of those trying to move closer to electronic butlers

book review on the life of servants in England over the last two centuries, picking up where E.S. Turner left off in his great book, What the Butler Saw.

A bit of media drama about Downton Abbey and the salaries that butlers can command, and about female butlers—all good trends in terms of recognition for the improving condition of the profession.

Forrest Whitaker, who was recently nominated by the Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor for his lead role in The Butler, talks about the training he received for that role.

Perceptions of the Butler (Part 4 of 5)

by GJ dePillis

In past segments of this article, we explored the way a potential employer thinks about a possible candidate.

In this section,  potential employers were asked how their perception of such as a butler’s accent, land of origin, culture, marital status, etc., influenced their hiring decision. Please note that the survey responses are truly held beliefs by the respondents, and are given here because they reflect a certain reality. However, the respondents’ views do not reflect the views of the author, the editor or the Institute.

© 2013 by John dePillis

A.     British: 83% Positive, 17% negative.  Some of the initial impressions of a British butler would be that they were capable, appropriate, and that there would be no language barrier, thereby fostering easier communication between employer and employee.  The negative comments included the feeling that the employee may wish to “slide by” on the notion that the perfect butler was British and use their accent as a way to shirk duties.

B.     French: 16% Positive, 84% negative. Several surveyed felt the French individual would not be dedicated to the job and would be difficult to understand, as well as possibly temperamental.

C.     Italian:  50% Positive, 50% negative (In this case, the negative was because they felt this accent is associated with a chef and not a butler)  Some positive attributes were: they felt an Italian-speaking individual would be trustworthy and stylish.

D.     Jamaican:  33% Positive, 67% negative.    Some positive attributes associated with Jamaican butlers were that they might be polite and easygoing.  However, some employers felt such a person would be not dependable but rather focused on their own pursuits instead of the interests of the employer.

E.      Asian (including butlers from India):   Positive attributes included “diligent” and “hard working.”  Those surveyed felt these employees could be counted upon to attend to detailed work.  Some negative comments included concerns about culture clashes and values.

F.      Hispanic: 35% Positive, 65% negative.   Those with negative concerns were primarily uncertain that a Hispanic individual would be able to master the skill level expected of a butler. Given a choice, they would hire such an individual for a different position at their home, but definitely not as a butler.

G.     American Southern: 70% Positive, 30% negative.   Several employers surveyed felt that this individual would be charming and the accent was received favorably.  Some of those who responded negatively expressed concern that Southern employees might use slang and improper grammar, which could reflect negatively on the employer.

H.     American Bronx:  40% Positive, 60% negative.  Some negative concerns were that this individual would seem too street-wise or tough to represent the refined gentleman’s gentleman that the employer was expecting.  Words used were: opinionated, aggressive, and  arrogant.  Employers would value a butler who possessed varied skills and could “hold their own,” yet want the butler’s façade to express elegance and discretion.  Positives simply stated they would not judge an employee on this accent and would look at their actions, instead.

I.       American Canadian: 85% Positive, 15% negative. Words associated with a Canadian butler were reliable, polite, respectful, and honest.  The few negative comments were simply associated with the desire to hire a US citizen, as opposed to a Canadian citizen.

J.       American West Coast: 90% Positive, 10% negative.  Those with negative comments expressed concern that this applicant would see the job of Butler as a temporary occupation and not take it seriously. The remainder stated such a butler’s accent was not distracting and even welcoming and familiar.

K.      Other: This section allowed the interviewee to suggest an accent and associated assumption of the character of Butler applicant.  Comments included: Russian accents implied the employee would be very strict. Several found an Irish accent pleasant, enjoyable, not stuffy, and capable.

In this next section, the employer was asked to explain if and how their perception of a candidate would vary if a butler candidate were any of the following:

  • Honorably discharged United States veteran: 100% felt very positively about this candidate.
  • Married:  35% said that a married butler would be acceptable as an applicant, but they did not expect to hire the wife in any capacity. 65% felt a married butler would prevent him from travelling with the employer, therefore viewed a married applicant negatively.
  • Single: 100% felt an applicant who was single was preferable, but with some caveats: namely that all personal social activity should occur well away from the employer’s household. There should be no scandal associated with social interactions. Romantic socializing should not include members of the staff or household. Theoretically, should the butler’s personal life be made public, his actions should not reflect negatively on the employer’s household.
  • Gay/Lesbian:  One female respondent said she would prefer a gay male so that she would not be the unintended focus of his potential romantic intentions.  The remainder of respondents stated they were neutral as long as all social interactions took place well away from the employer’s household.  Respondents also felt strongly is that the gay or lesbian butler candidate should not be romantically involved with any other member of the staff or household.  The final condition was that if the butler’s personal life ever became public, it should not reflect negatively on the employer’s household.

Finally, we challenged preconceived notions:

Would you consider a female applicant for the office of butler?  30% stated no; 70% stated yes if she were qualified and was strong enough to lift a sterling silver tea tray.

When you think of a “butler,” what race/nationality comes to mind and why? 90% stated British;  10% stated they couldn’t think of any particular group.

Would you call your butler by first name, last name, or nickname? 65%  said they would call the butler by his first name; 33% said they would ask the butler what he wished to be called; 2% said they would use his last name.

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

Hospitality Training

After assisting LVMH further with their Grand Opening at Maison Cheval Blanc Randheli, it was time to spend a few weeks at Anantara Kihava Villas, another splendid private island in the Maldives. The Villa  Hosts put together this short Anantara Graduation video to show some of the training they received. 

Consulting the Silver Expert

by Jeffrey Herman

Q: Some of the gilding has worn off my fish slice, can it be re-plated?

A: Yes, the worn area can be sponge plated and blended into the surrounding gilding.

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

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, August 2013

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 9, issue 8

International Institute of Modern Butlers

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

A host told me recently that he had trouble trusting people—and it was evidently so, the way he vituperated (to disparage, blame another with use of strong language) against his neighbor. The same issue had come up a day earlier while consulting a client, who was having trouble with employees, vendors, even family members taking advantage of him. This question of knowing who to trust is central to all our lives, personal and on the job. “By their actions will you know them” is true enough advice, but do you really want your boss’  Italianate mansion repainted in gaudy neon pink six months behind schedule before you find out that you cannot trust the workman who came with such impeccable references and who yet seems to be both color blind and a bit too busy to see to your project?

Would it not help to know before you go?

Therein lies the trick, and I can heartily recommend you find out how to predict your fellow man before you go to much further down the road of life—at least, that is, if having a blood pressure that’s within range and things running smoothly are desirable goals.

Letters to the Editor

“For some time now, I have been very interested and have researched extensively the career of Butling. Could you kindly give me some  perspective and any other insights you might have on beginning a career as a Butler? In addition, I would be interested in your endorsement of the profession based on the prospects—both current and future. I, of course, would not hold you responsible for any decision I make as a result of your opinion and advice. As the sage saying goes: ‘In a multitude of councillors there is wisdom.'” CS

Editor: To your quote I might add: “Seek your own counsel!” You know better than anyone else what would work for you, and hopefully, any information I add may assist you in making the correct decision. The first step would be to undergo training—whether at a bricks-and-mortar butler school or through a correspondence course, if funds and time are an issue.

But before you invest time and money in such training, I would suggest you try your hand at private service (or even hospitality or any other service industry as a second, less-useful option), especially if you do not already have such experience, to see if you really love the reality of such work. Without passion, neither you nor your future employers will really shine. Any work in private service will do, wherever you can interact with employers/clients in their homes/estates.

With passion and training in place, the next thing is a CV that supports your quest to become a butler. There are people who are already experienced as butlers and who would be more attractive to many employers, but not to all. You may have some advantage (such as a language that they need you to speak) that few others have. Or an ancillary skill, such as nursing, if they are geriatric and needing a butler/caregiver, etc.

In other words, I would not be put off by the competition when it comes to finding work, as your qualities properly marketed, and with persistence, will allow you to break into the profession. Also, with the numbers of wealthy set to rise over the next several years, the demand for butlers will increase, and this may result in anyone having no experience but at least a certificate, being much-prized.


I’d like to see if I can work part time as butler/assistant/driver, etc. for one or several families in my (remote) area. Do you have any suggestions on how one can enter the industry in such a capacity?  I have had valuable experience working for two (high-standard) families in a city.

I know of one family here with a house manager.  There is plenty of money here—it’s just hidden and not shown off.   I could drop off business cards in the affluent areas.  It’s possible I could volunteer at the local lieutenant governor’s mansion.  (These are) a few different ideas I am considering. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. SE

Editor: Thanks for the update. Did you complete the butler course you had planned to do? If so, are they providing placement assistance? I believe that is meant to be part of the benefits of the course? Otherwise, have you contacted any other agencies? Your ideas are fine. You could add to them by doing the above, as well as advertizing in any upscale magazine and connecting with whatever existing Household Managers you can locate, to network.

Yes, I completed the course back in early 2011.  I was then placed by their placement agency with a family.  I have yet to contact them regarding positions in this area, as I remember them saying they have no contacts this far over. It’s a small and very underground market. SE

Editor: I suspect there are no domestic placement agencies in the area? Your plan to hand out your business card sounds like the best approach; maybe you could try and write, or be interviewed for, an article in the local paper, to put out the word and drum up interest from likely employers?

Butlers in the Media

“The Butler” movie is to be released on the 16th of this month, retitled Lee Daniel’s The Butler to avoid a conflict with an earlier short movie of the same title. Within a long article published recently in the Washington Post, is a short snippet from one  of the lead actors, Forrest Whitaker, on researching the role.

A happy travel-writer from the Huffington Post croons over the butlers in her hotel.

An unfortunate noise from down-under emanating from politicians who should know better, about whether standard secretarial service in setting up conference rooms for use, is really butler service paid for reprehensibly by public funds—just another angle on our profession. A more accurate or pertinent one concerns the rise of the profession, especially in the Middle and Far East.

Talking of which, a culture shock between the Middle East and the West: a Saudi princess finds herself in jail for allegedly treating her staff in Los Angeles—in violation of a recent change in Californian law concerning human trafficking—in the same way she does, no doubt, without repercussion in her home country. Plenty of room for improvement in perceptions and considerations about private-service staff  deserving treatment as human beings, rather than serfs.

Consulting the Silver Expert

Mr. Jeffrey 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

Q: What are the rough spots on my sterling that I cannot remove with silver polish?

A: Those black rough spots you feel on sterling (or other solid silver alloys) which cannot be removed with silver polish are most likely corrosion. Place an ammonia-soaked cotton ball on the corrosion spot and it should dissolve within ten minutes. If not, repeat for ten minutes at a time until the corrosion has gone. You may need to use some silver polish on a Q-tip or cotton ball and “massage” the area very lightly until you bring up the shine to blend in with the surrounding area. There will probably be a shallow etched spot that remains under the corroded area.


Household Manager sought by a senior couple in a 5,000 sq. ft. residence in Houston, Texas. The job requires standard household management functions as well as some cooking, covering for the housekeeper during her off days, and some driving. Good remuneration package, with salary DOE and your expectations; can be live-in or live-out. Interested candidates should contact the Institute via enquiries at with current resume, salary requirements and a good quality current photograph, preferably a full-length shot.

frankmitchell  Cigars, Part XVII

by Frank Mitchell 

Serving a Cigar, Part 2 of 2

The guest most likely to accept your offer to cut and light is probably a novice and may be hoping to pick up some tips. Make sure they can see what you are doing and be ready with an explanation. I have taught several guests how to cut and light a cigar and they are always immensely grateful. When you are cutting and lighting, you should use whichever cutter you are most comfortable with, provided it is suitable for that shape of cigar.

Cut a hole large enough to ensure a good draw, but leave a ring of cap intact, otherwise the cigar will fall apart. A rough guide is to cut halfway up the height of the cap, but this will depend on the size and shape of the cigar. There are several videos online that help explain this, but cutting and smoking a few cigars for yourself will be the best way to understand what you need to do.

When lighting a cigar, hold the cigar at a 45° angle to the floor and rotate it longitudinally between the thumb and forefinger as you toast the foot with the heat of the lighter. Do not push the foot into the flame to rush the process. This will only char the wrapper. Move the flame about so that it heats the foot evenly. When you decide the lit end needs some air on it, do not blow on the cigar! You may move the cigar through the air, but be very careful not to stab someone with the hot end! Reapply the flame before offering the cigar to the guest. By this time, they will have figured out what you are doing and may ask for the lighter to finish the job themselves.

In my experience, guests may occasionally pocket your cutter or lighter in the absent-minded repetition of a habitual motion. If the cigar paraphernalia belongs to the hotel, your policy may simply be to add it to the bill and keep some spares on hand. The guest may decide to keep them after all, or may prefer to return them and have the item removed from the bill. If it is a really good guest who spends a great deal of money at your establishment, it may be wise to simply write it off as an expense. If the paraphernalia are your private possession, be tactful. It is helpful to remember that pocketing a lighter after using it is an action which a smoker has practiced to the point of it being a reflex. You learn to watch for it and as the hand moves towards the pocket say “Thank you, sir,” while extending the salver: Problem solved.

Next month we will look at some of the more traditional (and perhaps showy) methods of lighting a cigar.

 Amer1x1inch The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012 Let’s Talk about Wine, Part XVII

by Amer Vargas

This month we are in the beautiful country of Uruguay. The smallest in South America, it is located on the Atlantic coast of the continent and borders on Brazil to the North and Argentina to the West. With the latter, it shares a latitude that allows for wine growing (it shares that same latitude also with the great wine-growing regions of Chile, South Africa, and Australia).

Indeed, Uruguay is a privileged land when it comes to the right geography for cultivating wine producing grapes: vitis vinifera is cultivated in 16 of the 19 “departments” (similar to provinces) in the country; 90% of these are located in its more southern region.

Tannat grapes, photo by Pancrat

Uruguay is a fairly flat country and enjoys the benefits of a temperate, maritime climate, with sunny and dry summers, cold and humid autumns and winters, and average yearly temperatures of 18 0C/64.5 0F. Soils vary from dry and rocky in the north to rich in limestone and clay in the south, all of which allows for the production of a large variety of wine styles and grapes.

Wine production in Uruguay dates back more than 250 years. However, the arrival in 1870 of the Basque, Don Pascual Harriague, who brought with him the Tannat grape from southern France, provided the breakthrough the country needed to start appearing on the world map of best wines. Since then, and especially after the so-called Mercosur Agreement (an economic-commercial agreement between South American countries) in 1980, Uruguay has striven to increase the quality of its wines so as to be able to compete in the same markets as Argentina and Chile.

The Tannat grape is Uruguay’s signature grape, making up 36% of the total cultivated grapes. Other important grapes, in order of cultivated quantities, are Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc. Thus, most wine production in Uruguay is devoted to the creation of rich and medium-to-full-bodied red wines, although some of their white wines will please the most demanding of palates.

Don’t hesitate to pair the excellent Tannat with red meats, especially if grilled—simply a perfect pairing.




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, July 2013

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 9, issue 7

International Institute of Modern Butlers

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

Reviewing the prospects for our profession, they seem rather bright in an economy that does not otherwise offer much encouragement: the number of billionaires is set to double in the next seven years, and the number of HNW (High Net Worth) individuals (assets of $30 million and up, which has for many years been my own estimate of the wherewithal required for employers to take on butlers) will likewise increase 50%. While much of this growth is anticipated to take place in Asia and the Middle East, rather than the traditional European and United States markets, the increased demand for butlers and other household staff is still being seen in these countries, resulting in less time being spent looking for positions by those who have viable resumes. As disconcerting and uncertain as being between jobs may seem, rest assured that employers are actually desperate for reliable and competent staff, so my advice is to pass by those with high-turnovers and do not give in to those seeking, irrationally, to penny pinch on the remuneration package.

Please enjoy this newsletter—I learned something from the Canadian wines article; you may, too.

Letters to the Editor

“Good newsletter, thank you. Talking about employer ethics reminds me of John Gielgud’s line as the butler in Murder on the Orient-Express (1975), when he says something along the lines of ‘We should ask for the employers’ references rather than being asked for our own.’ Unfortunately, today, we have replaced privilege of birth with privilege of money, and the results are pretty horrible.” GL

“I have read your many articles and they have been of a great help to me. I would like to ask a few questions: In a five-star resort, would you set up one butler appointed to one room or for several rooms? What would be the difference between concierge service and butler service? What would be a medium-range salary for a butler in a resort?” AL

Editor: How many rooms a butler has to service depends on the quality of the butler offering to which the hotel or resort wants to aspire. Obviously, one butler per room/suite/villa would be expensive to maintain but would provide a level of service comparable to private service. In practice, either small boutique hotels/villas offer one butler per room/villa, or the top suites of hotels and resorts offer a butler dedicated to that suite, while guests in the other (or some of the other) suites share their butler.

Concierge Service is front of the house, offering assistance generally with guest requirements external to the hotel. The butler is in the suite, servicing the guests. This can include providing concierge service, especially when there is no concierge, or where the concierge handles the greater hotel, while the butlers service just some of the hotel guests. Generally, where there is a good concierge department, it is better for the butler to work with and through the concierge(s) for external requirements of guests.

Butler salaries in resorts really depend on the location of the resort. Butlers would typically make 15-40K (USD) in salaries, but tips are generally considered to double the take-home. Butler Managers make 25-50K, and if they are part of the tip sharing, then add to that figure according to the percentage of the tips that are apportioned to the Head Butler.  I suggest the top end of the salary ranges would apply to the West, the lower-end to “developing countries.” 

“Your answers have been a great help in this project.” AL

Butlers in the Media

The star-studded movie, The Butler, will be released on August 16 and is well worth viewing as our profession takes the lead role. It may not be the typical butler role, as White House Butlers have a narrowly focused job description compared with the Butler Administrator/Household or Estate Manager, and the focus is on the racial and political elements one would expect of household staff who are mostly African Americans serving nothing but a revolving series of political leaders. But the basic elements of butling and service are in place and well portrayed by Forest Whittaker, an actor who throws himself into the role based on extensive research to understand the mindset and behavior patterns of his roles. The movie is a serious look at a butler at work, modeled on real life rather than fiction—with the butler as the central character, the movie promises to add to the stature of our profession.

An interesting take from the New York Times on the future of the luxury hotel market.

The Institute’s Chairman was featured in a local upscale magazine recently (go to pages 52 onwards).

Consulting the Silver Expert

Mr. Jeffrey Herman has offered his services to our readers, for any questions you may have about the care of silver. Either call him at (800) 339 0417 or email jeff at

Here is the first enquiry, answered with great speed:


Q: How can I remove the build-up of old paste on brass door handles? Also, we have water glasses that are clouded, but I cannot remove the fog with simple acidic bases, such as white vinegar with hot water. Any suggests?

JH: “For the brass, I would use this method. If you’re afraid of splashing water on the woodwork, spread some Purell on the area and let it soften the polish, then tap the polish with the brush bristles, which will lift the polish. Use a cotton towel or cotton ball to remove the residue. Just remember to use some form of liquid to soften the polish FIRST, and lift it out with a natural bristle brush to avoid scratching.

“For cloudy glass, I highly recommend Cindy who has done some fantastic work for me. Take a look at her before-and-after images. Her pricing is also very reasonable! Glass sickness is something to be left to a professional.”

frankmitchell  Cigars, Part XVI

by Frank Mitchell 

Serving a Cigar, Part 1 of 2

Whether serving a cigar in private service or in a hotel or resort, the rules are very much the same. The only real difference being that in a hotel, the guest usually orders the cigar off a menu, while in private service you may be expected to know what cigar(s) your principal smokes. It stands to reason that if you are in the hotel trade, you must be highly familiar with the cigars on your menu and know them well enough to make suggestions for beginners and perhaps make recommendations for matching certain cigars with certain liqueurs or cognacs.

In a hotel environment, your guest may want to inspect the cigar, but be careful to avoid their handling them in a way that may damage the cigar or which could be considered unhygienic by other guests. Never assume that you should go ahead with cutting and lighting the cigar. Cigar smokers are usually quite particular about how their cigar is cut and they have to know you and trust you before they will let you do it. Do not take offense if the smoker prefers to do the cutting and lighting himself. Many aficionados regard this prelude as one of the highlights of the experience or will want it done ‘just so’.

In this case, bring the cigar to the guest on a silver salver. I prefer to place it on a bright, clean, white napkin folded in a simple square, which is placed on the salver. For the short distance from the humidor to the guest, it may not be necessary to cover the cigar. However, if you were taking the cigar for service in a room or suite, you should cover it with a fold of the napkin. Follow the rules for handling a cigar as mentioned in the earlier chapter on care and storage. Remember that if you are serving the cigar away from the hotel’s cigar lounge, you may need to bring a cigar ashtray—make sure that it is perfectly clean and presentable.

Unless you know the smoker’s preferred method of cutting, you should also provide a selection of cutters and a good lighter. (A good lighter is fully charged and operational—it can be relied on not to go out halfway through the lighting process.) Present the cigar to the guest for inspection and let the smoker cut and light. He may let the cap fall onto the salver when he returns the cutter. If he does, you can flip the napkin when walking back to your service station, so that it is not visible to other guests. Back at your station, discard the cap and remember to change the napkin often.

 Amer1x1inch The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, July, 2012 Let’s Talk about Wine, Part XVI

by Amer Vargas

This month we visit the land with a red Maple leaf in its flag: Canada. The country is unjustly not too well-known for its wines, as wine consumers are misdirected by the cold temperatures and harsh winter weather, with springs that can bring freeze-and-melt cycles and summers that are very humid. In spite of all this, Canadian vintners have learned and developed techniques to overcome their challenges.

Over two centuries ago, early settlers failed to cultivate vitis vinifera (European wine grapes) plants, so they turned to continental labrusca and riparia grapes instead. These withstood all Canadian weather conditions, but made such low-quality wine that it had to be fortified in order to make it drinkable and sellable. The last four decades, however, have seen major changes and improvements that have put Canada firmly onto the wine-world map: better trellising systems and control of vineyards have allowed European grapes to be cultivated and some vintners have even managed to cross continental and European vines—varietals like Vidal, Seyval Blanc and Baco Noir—for a hybrid sporting the best of each: better taste and the ability to withstand rough climates. These varietals represent a very small percentage of the current Canadian wine production, with most wine still being made from only European varietals.

Icewine from Okanagan Valley, photo by Yorkville

In Canada, wine regions are mostly concentrated in the southern ends of Ontario and British Columbia. The vast majority of wineries and vineyards in British Columbia are located in the desert-like area of the Okanagan Valley, where Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris are used for whites, whilst Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are used to create quality red wines.

In Ontario, more than 2/3rds of vineyards are concentrated in the Niagara Peninsula, which accounts for more than 80% of the country’s wine production. In terms of production, Vidal, Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc have a special presence when talking about white wines from this region; the red counterparts grown here are Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Baco Noir.

Frozen grapes, photo by Dominic Rivard

A unique feature about both British Columbia and Ontario is their ability to produce ice wine consistently each year. Ice wine is a dessert wine made from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine. The water in the grape freezes, but the sugars and other solids do not, creating a concentrated grape must. This wine’s journey starts with a quick harvest on a very cold morning (to ensure the grape does not thaw when harvested) and an equally quick pressing. The rest of the process remains the same as with other wines. The result is a characteristic, refreshing sweetness balanced by high acidity.


Photo by Chensiyuan

And for those who enjoy that sweetness and high acidity, the end of the 20th century saw the birth of its sparkling version, discovered by chance by Canadian wine writer Konrad Ejbich in his home cellar, and first produced for commercial sale by Inniskillin Wines.  Since 1998, they use the Charmat method, involving a double fermentation in bulk tanks—the result is just too delicious!

To good fortune, I raise my bubbly ice wine!



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, September, 2012

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 8, issue 9

International Institute of Modern Butlers

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

Just finishing training in Taipei, where service is the watchword and real caring is second nature—very encouraging and heartwarming to behold in a world that wobbles on despite all. I hope to see you, perhaps, at DEMA’s convention in Los Angeles later this month, and wish you continued success meanwhile.

Photo: Janos Feher


Letters to the Editor

“You have text on your web site that mentions:  A Richey report gave a certain resort’s butlers a 3% rating (we’d prefer not to name them for this reason!). The Richey report that followed the Institute’s subsequent training showed an improvement of 89%. Not ideal, but closer to it. This means the new rating is 5.67%. What I hoped you meant was, training resulted in improving the rating to 89%. The difference being the incorrect use of the word ‘of’ instead of ‘to.’ RJ.

Ed: Quite right, thanks for spotting that—the power of a small word!

Butlers in the Media

It’s been a pretty busy month for the media on the subject of butling, from the nefarious (the erstwhile and unqualified Bass butler is handed a stiff sentence after being found guilty of extortion at injection point; while in Italy, the Pope butler saga staggers on with a mea culpa from the vigilante butler, who “saw himself as an infiltrator acting on behalf of the Holy Spirit); to the fanciful (the re-release of Disney’s cartoon,  Aristocats, in which the butler, dressed in tails and suitably daunting, tries to dispose of some cats so he can inherit the employer’s fortune instead of them); to the ridiculous (from the New York Times of all sources, about the butler who wears flip flops); to the frankly negative from those who find their glasses half empty (a list of peeves that includes bath butler service made to seem ridiculous; however, it escapes the author that creatively conceived and multi-dimensional bath experiences can be tremendously enjoyable); to positive news, such as the ongoing shooting for “The Butler” movie in New Orleans, promising to show butlers in a proper light.

Of greatest interest, however, were the several articles showing serious discussions and portrayals of the profession:

An obituary for an old-school butler who enjoyed a successful and long career—farewell Colin MacPherson.

The Downsizing of the American Butler accurately notes that the employment situation for butlers favors the employer, with more applicants than job openings, butlers taking a 5-20% pay cut over the last five years, all while being expected to wear a variety of hats. This is thought to be a recent trend based on newly wealthy employers not understanding the role of the butler, but we have been writing about this for the last two decades: the modern butler is a jack of all trades, according to what services the employer needs him or her to perform. Obviously, if the employer wants his butler to do the work of three people, then the quality of service suffers; but where the work load is reasonable, then butlers are not ivory-tower personages: they should know how to roll up their sleeves and cook and drive, and, and, and – quite in addition to their traditional role.

“Butlers, much in demand, are thin on the ground” claims an otherwise interesting article in the Financial Times on the subject of the 63,000 citizens of earth with assets of 100 million or more, who find good staff hard to find, apparently.

You decide whether we are thin or thick on the ground.

Most interesting to the editor, however, was a review of  Kazuo Ishiguro’s Remains of the Day, a very well-written piece about one of the best films ever made.

The Art of Being a Personal Assistant

 by Lisa Krohn

Qualities that make a Personal Assistant:

We all have a working knowledge of what a PA’s basic pragmatic responsibilities are. However, in my experience a stellar PA is someone who has an organic understanding and rhythm with the principal that is distinctly different from any other employee relationships.

Above all, being discreet and altruistic.

Never any slight nuance of something you do shall await a ‘thank you’ or the notion that it will be ‘on my list of why I deserve a bonus.’

You are an intimate confidant, that is, quiet but strong in persona. Your presence, regardless of your physical size, takes up very little air and space when in the room with the principal.

You never need to express your opinion unless asked.

You never have to be right.

Being vigilant and acutely aware of everything that is going on.

You are always on both the offensive and defensive to resolve all before anything untoward happens.

You are proactive and decisive, knowing what they want prior to them asking or even thinking about it.

Executing quietly as though it was already done or in place.

Accountable for one’s mistakes.

You may be the only person speaking directly to the principals. Your leadership skills and ability to know how to do every person’s job in the residence is important. You might have to fill in and or assist in some way in addition to your duties.

Spending time with your colleagues, learning who they are on a personal level, is crucial to your success. This is not about being best friends or even sharing on a daily basis, but creating a rapport, respect, and empathy for who they are in order to be able to delegate, teach, oversee and be constructively critical when critiquing their work.

They also must feel comfortable and respected when coming to you if they are confused, failed, or did something wrong.


Of interest, the Queen of England is looking for an under butler, based at St James’s Palace, who can remain “calm under pressure” and be able to “maintain confidentiality and exercise tact at all times.” 40-hour weeks and salary up to the individual to name—a departure from normal, in which Palace butlers are generally offered low wages.  “General duties include welcoming guests, laying up and waiting tables at dinners and events, cleaning and tidying all areas required and assisting with the cleaning and maintenance programme in the house and offices… The role requires aspects of manual handling including lifting and carrying of objects, climbing ladders and working at heights…. The successful applicant must have relevant experience of working within a private house, hospitality or catering environment.”

Recent Graduates

Some of the recent butler graduates at Taipei, Taiwan's premier hotel, The Regent

Cigars, Part VII

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

Cigar Shapes

The next subject we need to look at is the various cigar shapes and sizes. This is an important aspect of cigar making and knowing what you are looking at is a fundamental requirement of making an informed purchase. If you are working in an establishment that sells cigars, it is imperative that you have a sound understanding of the various shape names.

A cigar, being a cylinder, is measured in two dimensions: its length and its girth (or diameter.) The length will always be given in inches, while the girth is measured in ring gauge. Strictly speaking, ring gauge is also a measurement based on the inch, but as no cigar is ever an inch thick, it is invariably expressed as a fraction of an inch. That fraction is always /64. So a cigar with a ring gauge of 32/64 is ½ an inch in diameter. Since the denominator is always 64, we no longer write it down and simply express the girth as 32”.  Therefore, a cigar size given on the cigar menu as 7”x32” is not 32 inches long and 7 inches wide! That would be impossible to smoke. Such a cigar is actually 7 inches long and ½ an inch wide. Novices may find this method of notation frustrating and confusing—your job as a butler is to guide your guest with aplomb, taking care not to dent their ego in the process. Ring gauges commonly range between 28” and 54”.

The various sizes and shapes all have their own names. This means that when referring to a cigar by name, you are essentially talking about its shape and its size. It is certainly convenient, but can be a little intimidating at first. My approach has been to familiarize myself with one shape at a time. If one goes about this with a fair degree of diligence, you will soon have an understanding of the various shapes and be able to speak with some confidence on the subject.

An important point to understand is that while there is an established consensus on what each shape looks like, there is some latitude allowed on the exact dimensions. For this reason, cigar handbooks usually give a narrow range of dimensions when referring to a cigar name to allow for differences in interpretation. Within each brand however, great care is taken to achieve consistency of shape and size. In practice, the differences between brands are so small that they are often practically insignificant.

For a wonderfully detailed list of the various cigar names and their sizes, please visit the Cigar Aficionado site:


Most cigars are straight-sided and are known as Parejos. They are open at the head (the end you light) and are sealed with a cap at the foot. We will cover cutting and lighting in a later article.

Well known Parejos include the Churchill, Corona, Lonsdale, Panatela and Robusto. The names are often accompanied by an adjective that indicates a reduction or increase in size. Petit, Slim, Finos, or Demi will indicate a reduction in size, while Gorda, Gran, Grande, Larga, Extra or Double would indicate an increase.


While Parejos may be handmade or machine-made, the shaped cigars known as Figurados are always handmade. If making a cigar by hand is a skill, then making a Figurado is an art. If one bears in mind that batches of Figurados have to be absolutely consistent, then one can appreciate how hard it is to get it right. Only the most experienced torcedors roll Figurados and they take longer to make. Both of these factors are to be taken into account when considering the cost of purchasing such a cigar. Well-known Figurados are the Belicoso, Diadema, Perfecto, Pyramid and Torpedo. Some sources list Culebra, but this shape remains unusual. Davidoff re-introduced the fascinating but obsolete Culebra to the market after Zino Davidoff saw one in a cigar museum. Partagas has also introduced a Culebra and articles on the shape have created a demand that makes the shape hard to come by. It will be interesting to see how long this unusual shape remains in vogue.

Novelty cigars come in all sorts of shapes mimicking everyday articles such as baseball bats or footballs. These shapes are impractical and remain more of interest to collectors than to cigar aficionados.

Next month we will look at the safe transport and proper storage of cigars.

DEMA Convention

The 2012 DEMA Convention will  be held in Los Angeles from September 28-30. In addition to the speakers and topics listed in the last MBJ, the Chairman of the Institute will be in attendance, speaking on Sunday morning on the subject of aplomb—not a fruit, but an essential butler trait that is the doorway, a rite of passage, from the uncertainties of the tyro to the relaxed competence of the pro. These simple tools will put you on the fast track to aplombing with a rapier-like grace that would impress even Jeeves, with everyone from the boss, the guests, staff, vendors, officials, your significant other and mother-in-law all seeing and doing it your way. Yes, you are The Butler/Majordome/Majordomo/Household/Estate Manager—the one who knows all and without whom the estate would fall apart.”

Register at


Let’s Talk about Wine, Part IX

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

Today we move into Italy to discover a bit about its wonderful libations.

Chianti Cellar (roblisameehan)

Wine has been made in Italy since at least the 11th century BC, when the Enotrians (a Greek tribe, meaning people from the land of wines) inhabited the south of the peninsula. The growth of the Roman Empire lead to very important changes in wine production in two sectors: large-scale production and significant improvements in storage methods, ranging from the appearance and improvement of wood barrels to the creation of the first bottles that kept the wine in better conditions than the old amphorae (jars).

 The Roman domination of Europe spread knowledge of wine to the conquered regions, thus improving the already existing wine production in Gaul (France) and Hispania (Spain). Wine was so important for the Romans that they even had a deity for it within their polytheist religion: Bacchus, the god of wine, was given honors once a year in the famous Bacchanals, a party held to the sake of the god and as a tribute to the pleasures of life, at which much wine was drunk.
Chianti bottle from Tuscany (Giulio Nepi)

Italian wines have achieved excellence thanks to several important factors: vine-growing conditions are extremely favorable thanks to the abundance of Mediterranean sunshine, mild temperatures and cool, mountain air currents and sea breezes; the quality of the soils, and rainfall that is present in autumn, winter and spring, while summers are dry.

It is not easy to define the general characteristics of Italian wines, as they are produced all over the country. Italy’s twenty wine regions match the twenty administrative regions and, depending on the quality of the wine and the importance of the wine area, the brew is categorized under one of the four following denominations, as stated in the label of the bottle:

Barolo bottle (al10trader)

Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita or DOCG, meaning Controlled and Guaranteed Place Name, brings together the small group that is considered the best of the best wines. There are only 36 DOCGs, mostly concentrated in the Piedmont and Tuscany regions. Within the most important DOCGs, we find the world famous Barolo, Barbaresco, and Brunello di Montalcino.

Denominazione di Origine Controllata or DOC, meaning Controlled Place Name, categorizes wines whose name, origin, grape varieties, production, and storage methods are regulated by law. There are currently more than 300 DOCs; to name just a few, we find Montelpuciano d’Abruzzo, Copertino, Etna and Bardolino.

Indicazione Geografica Tipica or IGT, meaning Typical Geographic Indication, indicates that the wine has been produced in a particular wine area. The name of an IGT cannot be the same as a DOCG or a DOC, to avoid misunderstandings. Here we find Palizzi, Falanghina and Lambrusco.

Vini da Tavola, sometimes expressed on the label as “Italy,” refers to all other wines that do not fall under the previous categories.

There are more than 2,000 native grape varietals, the most important  red vines being Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Montelpuciano, Dolcetto or Malvasia Nera; the most important white grapes being Catarrato, Trebbiano, Moscato, Pinot Grigio, and Malvasia Bianca.

Altogether, Italy produces many fine wines. Raise your glass of refreshing Bianco (white wine) before we fly to Portugal in the next issue of our next Modern Butlers’ Journal!

Please subscribe

at the top right of this page

to continue to receive these newsletters.

Follow us on Facebook 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 around the world.

Published Articles

Finding Your First Domestic Position

When considering a career change or starting out in the domestic field, there are a few very important considerations. The first and most important is “Why do I want to work in private service?” Second, “What are my immediate and long-term goals in the industry?” And third, “How can I be competitive in the job search process?” Carefully and truthfully answering these questions will dictate how to proceed.


Many people looking for work in private service for the first time have an incomplete idea of the actual requirements for a position. Titles and job descriptions give some insight into the type of work expected, but the intangible and hidden details are where the true nature of the business is discovered. For example, can you honestly say that after years of building your own career and lifestyle that you now want to focus on the fulfillment of someone else? You need to understand that this is the one goal of service: to provide support for the employer above all. Are you capable of watching your boss spend more money in one day than you make in a year? You must have a disposition that allows for such dramatic realizations.

Likewise, although several skills from the business world apply to domestic work, can you spot the little things that create harmony in a luxury lifestyle? Can you be a Jack of all Trades to assure things get done, no matter what? If so, you may be headed down the right path. If not, look for another direction with your career. The best way to know for sure if you are cut out to handle a domestic position is to ask a veteran. Get in touch with someone you may know in your personal network, or perhaps ask an agency for a referral to a top candidate. Most people in the business are proud of what they do and are happy to give you some of their time. This is truly the only way to understand what happens on a day-to-day schedule, and the best way to know if it is for you.


What are your overall goals in the workplace for the next year? The next 3-5 years? The next 10 years? Do you have a plan that you are working toward such as owning your own business, retiring, going to school, etc.? If you know the answers here, you may be able use the domestic industry as your next steppingstone. For example, a domestic couple with some experience, excellent health, and flexibility with relocation can easily earn a salary of $70-100k and have all of their living expenses paid. With some planning and discipline, a 5-10 year stretch can put away enough money to meet some long term goals like starting a venture of your own or taking some time off.

On the other hand, a position in domestic service does little to advance one’s corporate career, if that is a future goal. So it is important to think a few steps ahead and look at your motivation when entering the private sector, because it is such a specialized and unique environment. Of course, if your true intention is to create a long-term career path within the industry, you are in the right place and the right frame of mind. If not, consider other options.

Another stumbling block in the job hunt is being able to prove your dedication. Newcomers and those returning to private service after a long time may find it hard to convince an employer that “this is what I really want to be doing.” Have a very concise, carefully thought out answer to the question: “Why do you want to do this type of work?” Using the specific information from a contact in the business, you should match the required duties of a position with skills and tasks you have been successful with or exposed to. This should give the impression that you know you can handle the upcoming job duties. Once you have it in your head and your heart that you want to do this type of work, it is time to begin searching.


The most asked question of any agency is: “How do I get started without experience?” First, if you made it to this point of the article and were honest with yourself all the way, step 1, CONVICTION, is complete. Step 2 is PREPARATION. If you have not read and understood “Becoming a Better Domestic Employment Candidate”, you are not ready to proceed. Before you go any further, you must have the specific tools to be successful. There is a chart with detailed explanation in the article, so check it out. Step 3 is RESOURCES. Not everyone can do it alone. If you are reading this article, you probably are looking for some assistance in the search. Why not, its mostly free and those who help you typically will benefit in some way.

Get on the phone and get on the Internet to gather all the information you can stomach. Call agencies and ask for advice or referrals. Go through a few interview and application processes with them. Make sure to read “Working with Domestic Agencies” to know the behind the scenes of what to expect. One of the best agency situations is a temporary agency. It will take some legwork to find one that has domestic or combination positions (domestic/executive), but this is one of the best ways to get experience with house management or personal assisting. For example, if you can get a job assisting a busy executive in their office, look for a situation where you can manage the personal duties as well. This includes gift buying, personal errands, pet care, scheduling and overseeing work at the residence, personal travel arrangements, etc.

Although classifieds are one of the oldest ways to search, they are also one of the best. Often employers will try their own search before calling an agency and those willing to hire for a “starting” position probably won’t use an agency. Check in the papers local to where you want to work and live. Most papers put their classifieds online, so check the Internet as well. Another great source for ads is the Caretaker Gazette. It is the only paper specializing in ads for caretaking and professional domestic positions, with some nice related content. Look them up online or call for information at (715) 426-5500. Another great feature of classifieds is that for a small fee you can place your own ad looking for the right employment situation.

If you are good with people, put the word out on the street about what you’re looking for. Tell friends, relatives, former employers, etc. and start spreading the news. Most of the positions in the domestic service industry are filled this way. If you were looking for someone to work with your family and home, wouldn’t you ask a trusted friend or associate? Of course. Just by getting your name in the right social circles you could end up with an amazing job. And perhaps a good showing will lead you to the next family on a referral from that one, and so on. Many long-time domestic professionals never go through a job hunt and frequently receive offers from friends of their employer. That is the level to aspire to.

There are several schools to train you in domestic service. This is a path for the truly committed, so as before, step one (conviction) is VERY important here. Schools are fairly expensive and do not guarantee placement upon graduation, but certainly the knowledge, experience, and dedication it takes to complete the courses is a step in the right direction. Also, each school will have a placement service or leads for you to network for a job. (More resources!) Consult with the different programs out there to see if it makes sense for you based on your goals and your finances. The better ones are listed on

In conclusion, a few basics are important to get started in the private service field: Be sure of what you are after; be prepared for the opportunities; and use all available resources to give yourself the “lucky” break into the business.

David Gonzalez
President, DPN

Published Articles

Becoming A Better Domestic Candidate

There are many approaches to finding employment as a domestic professional. You can respond to classifieds, network through friends and former employers, or use a placement agency, to name just a few. No matter which path you follow to find a new job, there are some standard items that can help you rise above the other applicants in your field. Whether you are a chef, estate manager, chauffeur, nanny, or any other type of employee, being prepared is the name of the game!

Often in the domestic service industry, top candidates are not the ones with the most experience or the most skills, but those who understand basic business protocol in the job search process. For example, a chef may be extremely talented in his or her trade, but offer a very poorly written application package. He or she will stand less of a chance of getting an interview when competing against applicants with an up-to-date, well-constructed portfolio. Likewise, should an agency or employer request background information or documents from a candidate, any delays could result in the hire of another applicant. Lastly, if the information such as references, dates of employment, and contact information are hard to follow or incomplete, the application could seem “fishy” or the candidate could be thought of as incompetent.

For all of the above reasons, one should apply basic business “common sense” to the job hunt process. Spend some time educating yourself about conducting employment searches, interviewing, and writing a resume. Also, if you are planning to go through an agency for representation, read the article “Working with Domestic Employment Agencies.” It offers a behind-the-scenes perspective on the hiring procedure! Any inside knowledge and careful preparation will pay off tremendously as you go through the process of finding your next position.


  1. Current Resume
    I cannot stress the importance of the resume enough. In many cases, it is the only item an employer will see when deciding who to interview. Some agencies only send the resume to a client. Some employers only look at resumes. Make sure yours is up to date and has a professional look with no mistakes! You can hire a service if you are not good on the computer. Also, having a copy on disk is great for sending documents through email.
  2. Letters of recommendation
    Any time you leave a job you should get a letter of recommendation. Try to have them written on company letterhead or personal stationery of your employer. The more letters you have, the better. Be prepared to distribute copies that are as legible as possible. Even better, have color copies made of the most recent or most important letters.
  3. Reference List.
    You will have to supply this information on any job application so have it ready on a separate page, laid out as follows: Employer name; who to contact for the reference; the contact’s title; a current telephone number; and any notes about reaching the person. You may also request to be contacted directly for telephone numbers so you can tell your reference in advance who will be calling.
  4. Current Photograph. Have a recent photograph of yourself ready to give out (color photocopies are a good idea) with an application. It should show your overall physical appearance and a nice touch is to be in the uniform of your profession. The extra step you can take here is to have the photo scanned and put on a disk to email to agents or employers.
  5. ID Copies.
    Usually agencies will ask for your identifying documents upfront to verify you are who you say you are. This includes driver’s license, social security card, passport, green card, work visa, etc. Be prepared by having a high quality black and white copy made for faxing and color copies for distribution.
  6. List of Previous Addresses.
    To conduct background checks, employers or agencies will require a list of the county, city, state, and address of where you have lived over the past 10 years. Have this information available and typed out. Make copies.
  7. Background Explanation
    If there is anything derogatory at all that you know will show up on your driving record; credit history; criminal background; or any civil litigation cases, have a detailed explanation ready. When these checks are done on you, the reports come back with codes and sketchy details about the events that are difficult to interpret. Your willing discussion of the incident can make certain situations less incriminating as a candidate for employment.

As with any endeavor worth pursuing, the job search can be tedious and frustrating. Approach the task with a positive attitude and commit yourself to being ready for any obstacles along the way. Also “put your money where your mouth is” when creating your application materials. You may have to spend a few dollars to have a great looking resume package with clean, legible copies of all your documents (both black & white and color), but the payoff is far greater than the costs you will incur.

Also remember, there is no such thing as “luck.” The word “luck” is just a description of what happens when preparation meets opportunity. So by preparing carefully and placing yourself in front of all the opportunities out there, you can be the “lucky” one who lands the perfect job.

David Gonzalez
President, DPN