Newsletter Steven Ferry

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, July 2021, The Wisdom of Butlers Past

Steven FerryThe Wisdom of Butlers Past

by Steven Ferry


PART 50, Serving the Different Courses

When food was plated by the chef, the person bringing the food had to know who the dish was for, place the cloche or cover over the food, place these on his tray, and then take them to the dining room, where he made sure the right person received the food intended for him or her, and without lifting the cloches. The butler and assistant removed the cloches and gave them to the junior staff to take back down to the kitchen.

A typical meal was a choice of two soups, at which time, beer, water, and bread were also served; followed by a choice of two fish served with cucumber, sauces, and cruet sets (salt, pepper and a paste like mustard) where indicated.

Then a roast joint was presented, with the host carving. The butler stood to the left of the carver, handed him an empty plate, and when it was returned by the carver, the butler handed it to the junior waiter standing to the right of the carver, who then took it to the intended guest. Wine was served with this course.

Instructions are then provided which are rather confusing, on how to serve and clear each course, the basic idea being to make it smooth and efficient. If the writer had had a better idea of how to teach someone to do something, he would have written simple single-action instructions in the sequence in which they needed to be done.

After the roast, the plates and wine glasses were removed and cheeses served (they did not drink wine with cheese, but no mention is made of any fortified wines that became popular later with cheese courses). The cheese was served with butter, salad, and cucumber.

The cheese course was cleared and the whole table cleared and then cleaned using a brush, cloth, and spoon—the main focus being breadcrumbs, as presumably, they did not have side plates. The napkins or side table cloths were then removed by rolling them up—something that must have been quite inconvenient for the guests still seated at their places.

Guests were handed lip and finger bowls if desired and then the silverware and plates for the dessert brought, and the wine glasses. The butler then served wine and ice (a flavoured palate cleanser?) until the dessert arrived, which he arranged to be served once the guests had finished with the ice.



Extracted from the 1823 book, The Footman’s Directory and Butler’s Remembrancer, re-published in hardback by Pryor Publications. You may obtain your discounted copy (with free s&h) by emailing the publisher: Mr. Pryor (alan 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.

Por Amer A. Vargas

Amer A. Vargas graduated with a Tourism Degree specializing in hotel management from CETT (Center for Tourism Studies) in Barcelona and spent the following decade in the service industry. Beginning as a waiter and then supervisor in high-end restaurants, he was next made responsible for raising service standards through staff training programs. After receiving further training as a butler, he worked as a butler and valet in private service as well as hotels in England and Europe.

During this time period, he translated the best-selling industry texts Butlers & Household Managers, 21st Century Professionals and Hotel Butlers, The Great Service Differentiators into Spanish and is currently creating butler training materials in the Spanish language.

As the Director of Spanish-speaking Markets, Amer is responsible for making the technology of butling available in private residences and hotels in the Spanish-speaking countries of the world. He provides consultation, placement, and training services in these countries.