The Modern Butlers’ Journal, May 2016, International Institute of Modern Butlers


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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 12, issue 5

International Institute of Modern Butlers

Teaching Right Mindset, People Skills, & Superior-service Expertise

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

Message from the Chairman

Keeping tabs on how butlers are perceived in society (see our column Butlers in the Media over the last several years) has been mainly an exercise in spotting ways that our title has been called upon to confer the profession’s key characteristic of superior—solicitous, etc.— service. This trend has been ongoing for quite a number of years—even centuries if we look at products such as “Butler Trays” and Butlers Thumbs”—and it represents a double-edged sword, in that we are a) recognized as the quintessential service provider that sets the standard, while b) each taking of our title in vain tends to denigrate or cheapen that title.

None of this really has had much impact on our profession or how it is perceived, until the ominous sound of “robot butlers” marching toward the future grew too loud to shut out in the present. Why is this trend more than a curiosity, and something to which we should pay attention?

Because unless we ferret out and remedy those elements that push our profession in the direction of being two-dimensional figurines with automated responses, we will have nothing to offer that would prompt an employer to keep us on, with all our human foibles, faults, and flaws, in favor of a real automaton, a robot butler.

Anything each one of us can do to reassert our humanity in society as a whole and in our profession in particular, to reinvigorate the life that is in us, to use the judgement and compassion that are the hallmark of civilization, as opposed to bowing to the materialistic view of life as a huge collection of amoral and pointless atoms and quarks, would be one more point of light to throw on the darkening clouds of materialistic progress.

Put simply, if we want to keep our jobs, then let’s put some attention on improving our offerings to potential employers by differentiating ourselves from what robot butlers have to offer—because they, not fellow butlers today or the struggling economies, etc., are the threat to the centuries of service our profession has made possible.

Butlers in the Media

In terms of robot butlers, this month has seen a few launched or discussed—most particularly BMW’s and Bentley’s holographic butlers covered in the last MBJ; then there is Big-i, a “home butler” shaped like a rubbish bin/trash can, that can find its way about the house, enjoys voice and facial recognition, can track motion, control devices and equipment, learn to adapt to different people’s preferences, and speak to them accordingly. Being Chinese, Big-i is programmed to recognize the hierarchy of whom to show obedience to, starting with the boss. It can help children with their homework, “remind them to wash their hands if it sees them with a piece of fruit, give directions….” One supposes the only limit to its skills are those of the programmers and their patience in programming every single possible human interaction and life-situation. Just how valuable such a response may be remains to be seen—if every time a child picks up a piece of fruit he or she is reminded to wash his hands can be discovered if one were to try this with one’s own children for, say, the next couple of months. As great a technical advance as Big-i and others like it represent, is this really where we want to be going as a human race?

Then there is SmartAll, an “AI Butler” that is simply a home-control system for up to 1,000 devices—one that learns your patterns and makes decisions after seven days: “If you boil the kettle at 8.30 am each morning or turn off the lights at 11 pm every day, it will do that task for you.” In practice, this could be as annoying as those auto-correct features that create completely new words in your wake as you type, which can result in embarrassing or nonsensical communications if one does not then go back and check the checker. Controlling kettles may seem like a good idea, but what happens if there is no water in the kettle? And how does it know if iRobot Roomba, the vacuum cleaner, can skip a room or needs to spend extra time in it because the dog just chewed through the boss’s favorite pair of slippers?

But fear not, for those having difficulties with their computerized home management systems, there is now Digital Butler, a downloadable app to sort it all out. Maybe.

MiButler is another of the new wave of services and delivery services offered to home owners at low price: this one not an app but a text-based service—send a text message, they deliver, and mostly food delivery, but also such as car washes and grocery runs. Jarvis, another such service, also wants to be “your personal butler, attending to your groceries, cleaning, gardening, laundry and chores from $33 per week.” This company is making an effort to provide low-cost service to those many who do not have time to run their homes, but at least says it is training their butlers and looking for those with the right mindset. And then there is one town where the downloadable Butler app enables locals to order food deliveries.

Then we have the Thai hotel offering their BBQ Butler, actually just a private chef; the Brownstone Butler cleaning service in Manhattan and The Butler Did It Cleaning Company in Pennsylvania; The Butler, a hotel wardrobe designed with the purpose of making it less likely that guests leave things when they check out; Botlr the robot is now also in service in Chicago, breaking out of the confines of the Silicon Valley hotels in which it has been in service to date as a bellhop delivering small items to guest rooms; Taxi Butlers are push button systems for summoning taxis—existing already in 35 countries; and lastly, a Lexus dealership offers its Butler Experience, which involves remembering the names of clients “and customizing service to their individual preferences whenever possible.” Judging by their sales, it seems to be working.

One advertisement for a butler on the West Coast at 175K+ and another on the East Coast at $150K show that there are still those who understand the value of human butlers in running households, and who appreciate the scope of work and duties they can undertake. Along the same lines is an interesting article on the butler at Blenheim Palace.

And to conclude, the sad loss of Prince, was not compensated for by a hotel butler when talking about his experience servicing the musician; the reporter wrote, “And of course, our chatty butler (who no longer works at the Rio, so it’s fine) has a couple shady Prince anecdotes to dig up.” Really?

Need a Vacation or Time off Work?

Whether planning a vacation or experiencing an emergency, your position needs to be covered by someone. Often, that person is one of your own staff and their duties are light when your absence is planned to occur when principals are not in residence.

However, for those occasions when someone competent is needed to cover for you, you can always contact the Institute to arrange for temporary coverage—we have connected employers and their household managers and butlers with our team of temporary butlers and household managers for over a decade.

This includes times when  reinforcements are needed for larger projects or to cover when someone has departedly suddenly, for whatever reason, and a few weeks are needed to find and bring in the right replacement.

If you are already a butler or household manager and would like to join the on-call team, then feel free to contact us. There is no obligation to take on any project—you only turn up if you are available and interested.

Creative Corner

Statue of David, in soap
Statue of David, in soap

Whether a butler in private service or hospitality or elsewhere, the attention to detail in the execution of small, customized efforts that show caring, especially when that creativity was shown by the butler, counts for a lot with most employers and guests—whether or not they voice their appreciation, it is usually noted quietly. That is why we have been championing this somewhat quixotic goal of creating small gems to leave in the employer’s or guest’s bedroom or bathroom or anywhere, that go beyond the commercial, off-the-shelf, one-size-fits-all, it-takes-no-extra-care-and-attention-on-our-side efforts to “wow” the recipient.

The intrepid and creative head butler at The Fort Harrison hotel in Florida, Mr. Gutman, has been working whenever he has a spare moment, on perfecting techniques that enable butlers anywhere, with a small outlay of their time, to create custom-made soaps, fruits, and now chocolates, for each employer, family member, or guest.

Diver carved into an apple
Diver carved into an apple
A client's business logo done with such precision, that a logo company with laser equipment could not get it right
A client’s business logo done with such precision, that a logo company with laser equipment could not get it right


The client’s original business logo, to compare

Remember, this butler is not one trained or experienced in carving, but it is amazing what he has managed to do with an X-Acto knife and attention to detail. Maybe not everyone feels they, also, can develop this skill, which is one reason why Mr. Gutman continues to work on developing techniques and materials that will allow anyone to personalize such items in the pursuit of that treasured smile on the employer’s or guest’s face. Enter his latest breakthrough: making molds that allow multiple products to be produced, still targeted to specific groups of individuals.

“I make a figure out of a clay, pour liquid silicone over it that then hardens and becomes a mold. I then cut it open, remove the clay, and then pour in soap or chocolate, using the same mold. I only need to make the figure once and then it is only a matter of minutes to create another one
out of a soap, chocolate, ice, you name it. There are so many things that can be done with it—apart from giving to my own guests, I can see other departments in the hotel offering these custom-made pieces when they provide their service, such as for banquet guests.”

Mr. Kobi is not too far away from being able to produce a manual for anyone in private or hospitality service who may be interested in adding such little gems to their skill sets for wow’ing principals and guests alike.

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

Let’s Talk about Mixology, Part 11

by Amer Vargas 

French 75

Today, we fly back in time again to the days when movies were black and white, and a classic movie that most retro lovers enjoy, Casablanca, featured a popular cocktail.

In honor of that most famous of lines in the movie, “We’ll always have Paris,” it’s only appropriate that this month’s  Journal should have a French theme for its cocktail: French 75.

French 75, photo by Annie
French 75, photo by Annie

The French 75 first saw a glass in the 1920’s, with different versions being spawned since by changing one or more of the ingredients. The current, common recipe in fact changes substitutes cognac for the original gin, yet is still considered to be the same drink. The presentation of the cocktail may also differ, depending on the bar: whilst the original cocktail called for a highball glass (half-filled with ice), these days, it seems to be better presented in a champagne flute.

According to the International Bartenders Association, the ingredients of the cocktail are: 3 cl/1 oz of gin, 2 dashes of sugar syrup, 1.5/0.5 oz cl of lemon juice, and 6 cl/2 oz of champagne.

The preparation is simple: combine the ingredients, except for the champagne, in a shaker filled with ice, and shake vigorously. Then strain into the serving glass of your choice: highball with ice for the classic touch, or champagne flute for a more classy and elegant look. Top up with the champagne and stir gently. Neither garnish nor decoration are called for in the official recipe, but many bartenders like to add a twist of lemon to improve the presentation.

This sparkling cocktail is thought to have been created in order to enjoy champagne with a little bit more kick. So make sure that, unlike Sam, you don’t play it too many times, or you may not be allowed to board the plane at the end of the film.

Mr. Vargas is the Institute’s President and can be contacted via AmerVargas AT

Of Butlers and Roses, Part 25 of 30

by GJ dePillis

The Medicinal  Rose 

Our previous article may have started a conversation between you, butler, and the chef, who hopefully now is using roses in his or her gustatory treats for your family. Did you know that in ancient times, roses were hailed also for their medicinal uses, quite apart from their aesthetic value?

Ancient texts show roses to have been a staple in the apothecary, most especially red roses because it was thought their stronger fragrance created a more potent rose oil.

What ailments were cause for the butler, nanny, or whoever, to whip out the rose oil, rose hips, or rose petals?

  • Drinking rose water would stave off a queasy stomach or even prevent vomiting;
  • Rose hip tea, or rose honey, would ease coughing;
  • Topical applications would alleviate joint pains and rheumatism;
  • Rose-scented oils would revive swooning or fainting individuals (mostly ladies obliged by fashion to trim their figures by wearing highly constrictive-to-oxygen-flow corsets);
  • Relieve fevered patients;
  • Drinking rose tea, rose water, or rose wine would ease constipation or other digestion problems;
  • When mixed with mint leaves, heated and applied to the chest and stomach, it was thought to encourage restful sleep, ease breathing (congestion), to ease aching muscle, and soothe an agitated patient;
  • Sore throats were soothed when taking a spoonful of rose honey;
  • Rose oils mixed with lotions were treatments for skin sores;
  • Mixing rose oil with apple cider vinegar and spearmint leaves would ease cases of dandruff;
  • Spraying chilled rose water from a spray bottle would refresh on hot summer days;
  • Rose petals soaked in white wine for at least two days, then strained and drunk to the tune of one goblet, would diminish headaches (The old “hair of the dog that bit you” approach). As a side effect, if the patient also had sore or wounded gums, this rose wine would ease the aches;
  • After removing the hairy seeds from rose hips and mixing the rose hips with sugar, adding hot water, straining, then drinking, one could treat diarrhea;
  • It has been said that to sooth a colicky baby, dried and powdered rose hip pulp placed in the infants mouth would calm them.

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: How do I best remove tarnish from between fork tines?

A: Flatten some cotton swab heads with a hammer; dip them in Earth Friendly Silver Polish or Blitz Silver Shine Polish; wipe them between the tines; rinse under warm running water;  dry immediately with a soft cotton towel.

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 superior service expertise of that time-honored, quintessential service provider, the British Butler, updated with modern people skills, and adapted to the needs of modern employers and guests in staffed homes, luxury hotels, resorts, spas, retirement communities, jets, yachts & cruise ships around the world.