The Modern Butlers’ Journal for Service Professionals Worldwide, September 2013

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 9, 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 

“The service we render to others is really the rent we pay for our room on this earth. It is obvious that man is himself a traveler; that the purpose of this world is not ‘to have and to hold’ but ‘to give and serve.’ There can be no other meaning.”

Sir Wilfred T. Grenfell (Welsh doctor and social worker)

Letters to the Editor

I am looking for a book on proper table place settings.  I recently purchased a copy of your book and it’s one of my best investments for my new employment. If you have any other books to recommend that would be appreciated as well. LI

Ed: Thank you for your enquiry. I’m pleased to hear you are having such success with Mr. Ferry’s book! For table settings, the book we use on our correspondence courses is: THE ART OF THE TABLE by Suzanne von Drachenfels. There are other books out there, but we have found this one to be adequate. It can be purchased via our bookstore or on Also in our bookstore  are other titles that may catch your attention. We have a number of books and DVD’s listed there that we use in training or which simply are of general interest and use to Butlers and Household Managers.

Butlers in the Media

“We are an unscripted television production company based in Los Angeles actively searching for a Los Angeles-area British butler for a comedic, documentary-style TV series currently in development. The time commitment at this point would only be a couple of days of (unpaid) shooting and then, should the show be picked up, the time frame would be roughly 6-8 weeks of shooting (negotiated fees, with expenses covered). We are seeking an outgoing British butler with a sense of humor who is open to being on television.”

If interested, please email tvdevelopmentlosangeles  at

Winning through Self Improvement

The most recent graduate of the Institute’s Private Butler Correspondence Course, who had never worked  as a butler before, spent several hundred hours completing the course modules. He was then was offered, and accepted, an excellent butler position in Southern Europe, just days before graduating. He started work there recently. His comments follow:

“I am writing to express my gratitude for your utmost professional guidance and for the fantastic materials that you have created in the Correspondence Course.

“From the moment I opened the Butlers & Household Managers book there was no way back for me. At that stage, I did not have any service background whatsoever, and it was a magical experience to discover my interest in the content of the book, enough even to prompt me to learn English. Beginning then on the course, I was amazed at the thoroughness of the materials—I understand the importance of every single Module.

“No other butler school concentrates as much on the mindset of the butler, the understanding of which is paramount. I simply cannot think of a better idea than structuring the course on the butler mentality fundamentals. Everything else simply flows naturally from this understanding, which makes the studying process really enjoyable! The skills and knowledge I have gained are helping me in everyday life.

“Some assignments were really challenging, but it was a pleasure to accept these challenges and broaden my capabilities in these fields.

“I honestly think that you are the best teacher that I have ever had (!), and your personal approach and expertise is what makes the studying process interesting. Without doubt, your personal example will serve as a reference point throughout my career and beyond!

“The value of what you give to people like me cannot be assessed with money. To summarize my experience with the Private Service Butler and Household Manager course, I feel that it can offer as much for beginners as it does to people with work experience in the service industry. Absolutely sterling!” EA

Winning at the Placement Game

In the game of finding a position, we have witnessed right actions and wrong actions—which values are determined simply by whether or not they resulted in the landing of desirable positions.

Successes were achieved when presenting a resume that was tailored to each employer’s needs and wants. This involves adapting the basic resume so as to emphasize some features and de-emphasize others, so that the prospective employer can see easily whether or not the required skills and character are in place without being presented with information that does not address his concerns. This does not mean, however, hiding important and relevant information.

A phone interview is then followed by a Skype interview and then by a face-to-face interview and then by a paid trial. At the end of this process, there is a good chance there is a fit for both parties and a long period of service should result—and does result in many cases.

Where the process breaks down, from the candidate side, is when relevant information is withheld, only to rear its ugly head at some point later in the process and spell an end to the employment opportunity; or where the candidate operates on erroneous ideas or opinions about the employer, rather than facts, and so through such illogic reasoning, closes the door on what could have been a good position.

For instance, one otherwise excellent candidate just happened to forget to mention that he/she was totally burned out as a butler after a few too many grueling years in the service of a Middle Eastern family, who did not have the welfare of their butler as a point of any concern to them. That butler left for greener pastures in the US, in the hope that the new employers could somehow re-invigorate his flagging interest in the profession. Three weeks later he quit and found work in a completely different field, leaving his US employer in the lurch, and at considerable loss of funds and time to them.

In another case, after a seemingly well-qualified and experienced candidate failed to turn up for a face-to-face interview without a word, it turned out that this person had withheld an issue that had resulted in them being institutionalized during the time period of the interview appointment. When explaining this unfortunate turn of events to us, the agency, the candidate then proceeded to rant about the prospective employer’s slow actions in agreeing to the interview, blaming them for precipitating the breakdown. Further research showed this individual had just acquired a police record for battery.

In another situation, a candidate undergoing a trial incorrectly misidentified an employer’s communication of and insistence on high standards with micromanagement. After failing to respond to the employer’s requests for improvement, that candidate declined the position because of this assumed failing on the part of the employer.

On the positive side, where individuals have been hired to the satisfaction of one and all, there has been an earnest effort to provide service, as well as to give and operate on factual information concerning themselves and their real strengths and weaknesses.

Conclusion: Look through the employer’s eyes in determining what they are looking for and then give them that, while at the same time being completely honest about what you bring to the table for them. You would probably want your butler candidate to do the same for you, were you in their shoes.

“Thank you very much for all you did for us in procuring our next positions— we would not be moving forward without all those patient talks we had to bring us through the interview process. You are very professional in your approach, which helped to smooth our nervousness and jitters—we appreciate your persistence with us all the way to the end. Thank you.” M&T S

frankmitchell  Cigars, Part XVIII

by Frank Mitchell 

The Candle Confusion, Part 1 of 2

The Traditional Method

Whenever I teach a class about cigars and we get to the part about lighting them, there is a point at which I have learned to anticipate the occasional objection: it is where we tell the class that one should never light a cigar off a candle.  If one does this, the wax will taint the cigar, even if the candle is unscented. Remember that most candles bought today are a product of the petroleum industry.

This is where a student will often say “But that is the traditional way to light a cigar.” I agree that as butlers we should know and respect our heritage, but respecting one’s historical heritage also means getting it right, something today’s three-minute experts seldom do. Bear in mind that internet research is fraught with danger, bad info is never more than a click away.

So today we will talk about this wonderfully theatrical lighting method and hopefully help debunk the myths surrounding it.

Let us first look at what you will need;

  • Your cigar menu
  • A guéridon trolley
  • Clean linen
  • Clean white gloves
  • Silver salver (side plate will do)
  • A selection of cigar cutters
  • A plain, white, unscented candle
  • A decorative silver candlestick
  • Matches
  • A formidably sized ashtray
  • A cigar ashtray for the guest
  • Cedar wood tapers

So yes, it does involve a candle, but as we will see, this is not used to light the cigar.

Every cigar box, even if it is made from cardboard, should include a thin sheet of cedar wood for lining. Don’t discard these sheets, but rather collect them and use them to make the tapers you will need. The cedar sheet will split very easily along the grain. Use a craft knife if necessary and split the cedar wood sheet into strips about a centimeter wide (.4 inch). You may later decide to make them wider or narrower depending on your own preferences and the size of the cigars you light.

Next month I will show you how to proceed now that all elements are in place.

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

by Amer Vargas

Wines from Austria

Austria is a beautiful, landlocked country with thousands of years of tradition in wine making. There is archeological evidence of grape growing in Austria dating back 4,000 years and it is certain that wine was produced in the region when it was occupied by the Roman empire.

Austrian wines, photo by RobW

Because of its location and the presence of high mountains, Austria benefits from a temperate and alpine climate: a relatively humid environment with cold winters and summers during which temperatures can go up to as much as 40o C/104o F. This, combined with the rocky geography of the country, which creates many different kinds of soils, makes the perfect setup for many wine producing vineyards.

Up to 35 different grapes are grown in Austria to produce high-quality wines: 22 white varietals and 13 reds. The flagship of Austrian grapes is the local Grüner Veltliner, which accounts for a third of vineyards. Other important types of white grapes are Welschriesling and Müller Thurgau.

Zweigelt Grapes, photo by Bauer Karl

Red wines account for a third of the wine production and the most relevant grapes used to make them are Zweigelt, Blaufankisch and Blauer Portugieser.

After going through several highs and lows in production and exportation on its way to the twentieth century, Austrian wines experienced a difficult moment during the so-called “antifreeze scandal” of 1985, in which a few vintners were found to be adding diethylene glycol (commonly found in antifreeze) to the wine production, with a view to imparting additional sweetness and body to the drink. Although in most cases the addition of this chemical was found to be not dangerous to human health, Austrian wine exports and sales collapsed by 90%. New regulations were quickly established and vintners started to focus on developing high-quality wines without these additives. This led to Austrian wines becoming internationally recognized for their great body and flavors, thus helping to restore demand and bringing about a recovery of the Austrian wine industry. In the past decade, Austria has routinely produced and marketed more wine than it did in the years leading up to 1985.

Nowadays, quality wine is made in eight regions of Austria, all of them located in the eastern end of the country. Such a wide variety of wines comes from Austria that we can easily find a good wine to pair with just about any kind of food—many are a perfect match for Chinese and Asian cuisine in general, and many are also a safe bet for pairing with local cheeses. Just delicious!

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.