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

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

The Modern Butlers’ Journal volume 12, issue 6

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

The main item of news in the butler world this month is another example of a butler not following the code of ethics of the profession. In defense of Donald Trump’s former butler, one could say he was retired and so no longer beholden to our standards. One could also say he was entitled to express his opinion in accordance with the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution that protects the right to freedom of speech. One could even say he was right in his views, and applaud his passion and concern for the welfare of the country, which he feels is being betrayed—for not much raises the hackles higher and faster than a sense of being betrayed.

On the other hand, one would tend to look askance at any professional who did not live by the standards of the profession, one of which includes discretion and the ability to communicate succinctly in a way that skewers the truth without upsetting many around with gratuitous venting that is designed to stir others to irrational action versus a measured presentation of the facts that enables others to make up their own minds toward constructive action. One would also expect a professional to have some foresight when it comes to the consequences of his or her own words for others—his former employer in particular—who felt compelled to disavow his erstwhile butler because his statements were not in alignment with the image he was attempting to portray in his bid for the presidency of the United States. One could also point out that the butler profession was not enhanced by the way in which the former butler expressed his ideas; and that his former employer was not well served by having his butler ride on his coat tails (add weight to his own ideas by advertising his former connection with Donald Trump).

What would I have done?

As Facebook is a public venue, not a private and confidential line, I would have recognized that my ideas ultimately would be unearthed by trolls or others attempting to smear my former employer. I would simply have expressed my sentiments under a nom de plume so that there was no connection with, and blowback for, my former employer—and in a more constructive tenor, so that perhaps some forward progress would come of my communications.

Butlers in the Media

A similar story to that of Donald Trump’s butler that was revised this month is the expose of the ex-butler for Phosa, a politician in South Africa. If you can follow this convoluted web of claims, counter claims, and lies, you are a better man/woman than I. But one thing is clear: when a butler eavesdrops on the conversations of guests and employers, and worse, then takes sides/action based upon what he thinks he heard, he violates a fundamental principal of the profession and invites trouble for all concerned.

If you are familiar with manga (Japanese cartoons, comic books, and animated films, typically having a fantasy theme), you may wonder why we have never highlighted the butlers, and specifically the Black Butler that features in them. To be frank, it is because the genre and subject seemed so puerile (childishly trivial) that they were not worth mentioning. However, the Japanese cartoon butler has grown into a sub-culture that is here to stay —and one can expect to see no limits to the imagination when it comes to how these butlers are portrayed. At least they tend to be rooted in the classic qualities of the traditional butler.

Equally out in left field is a euphemism (using a mild word or phrase as a substitute for a crude term when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing) that seems to have come into being recently for those into the sexual deviancy that is becoming increasingly common in society these days: “Calling the butler” now means to use someone as a sex slave: to have someone who can be called upon at any time for personal gratification. The misconception of our profession is obvious, but one would not expect people who call upon the butler in such a manner, to appreciate such niceties.

Hotel butlers are working hard to find ways to impress their guests—some creative, some far fetched—but if the guests appreciate it, who are we to judge? In another article, however, claiming to be about over-the-top hotel butler services, we have a compendium of no less than 16 services offered that are called “____ Butler” and whose only connection to butlers is that they offer a superior service of some kind and simply retitle the provider as a “____ Butler”—several of these being new to us: Oyster Butler, Serenity Butler, Picnic Butler, BBQ Butler, Ski Butler, Sunglasses Butler, Dog Butler, Fragrance Butler, Energizer Butler, Broadway Butler, Amphibious Butler, Ambiance Butler, Tartan Butler, Hydrotherapy Butler, and even a Bonfire Butler.

Along the same line, we have the “Pet Butler,” a franchised service being offered: “Picking up where your dog left off, since 1988.” At least these are human butlers. “Leo the Baggage Butler,” on the other hand, is now being piloted at Geneva airport—he or she is actually an “it,” another in the long list of “robot butler sub-professions” that has been brought into service over the last few years. As a note, Geneva airport introduced a customer service robot three years ago; KLM introduced the Spencer robot at Schiphol Airport half a year ago to guide passengers to their departure gate. Paris airport is piloting biometric robots for immigration officers that scan passports and record passenger images.

Predictably, Travelzoo found 80% of 6,000 people surveyed expect robots to play a large part in our lives in the next few years, 75% believing they will improve our lives and 66% feel comfortable with the use of robots by the travel industry: 92% of the Chinese being very comfortable with the concept, while the French and Germans were the least welcoming to the trend. In the article from which we are quoting, it also states that “At least 24,000 [robot butlers] are used worldwide in professional services, at a cost of $3.8 billion, according to the International Federation of Robots. In the Travelzoo survey, 81 per cent said robots would be better at handling data and that their untiring energy would be an advantage.” While we have been beating the drum for the increase in personable and live interactions as opposed to the canned/programmed approach to service interactions, it’s clear that we are swimming against the tide. If the ubiquity of maddening/frustrating company/government answering-machine trees is not an adequate warning of what to expect when all service interactions become automated, then we deserve everything we will experience! Mass-production “service” is the complete antithesis of the solicitous service style of butlers, in which the individual being addressed is the most important person in the world. If you agree, then we need to work hard and fast together to re-assert humanity in service.

Zenbo, developed by a company called Asus, is the latest home robot entering the increasingly crowded market for robot butlers.

In an article entitled Robot Butler’s Creativity Surprises Its Own Makers “We never taught it that,” Carnegie Mellon’s HERB robot is making progress on being able to act intelligently in the random clutter of a home—a much harder environment for programming than a factory floor where a robot has one set pattern package of actions. The goal of the program is to create a robot for the home rather than the factory floor.

An article about Georgia Tech’s robot butler, Nimbus, is entitled Your Robot Butler Is Ready to Serve (and Learn), meaning it can learn from any human, not just its programmer.

Are you formulating an idea yet about this robot butler trend? Will you be let go for having all the undesirable human foibles and weaknesses, such as wanting to be paid and take sick leave and not working 24/7/365, and be expected, as the final insult, to turn over your butler manual and position to a robot within the next decade? Don’t count on it not being so!

In another article, a butler-presented picnic is offered for 35 GBP per person—one has to suspect the quality of the offering, given the pricing.

We found a “Coffee and Tea” butler, which is a tray designed by an individual for use for her own guests, to present tea or coffee. The convenience of the design to the guest being the qualifier for the “butler” moniker.

We recently saw an advertisement for “An extensive program on professional luxury butler service” that offered a 5-day training period resulting in “7-star” service. Come on, colleagues, let’s be real! I am sure your program is good, but let’s not fall into the hyperbole (exaggeration) that plagued the cereal manufacturers in the 1960s, when promoting how big their box was: it is hard to beat “ginormous” (a combination word from “gigantic” and enormous”), but they managed to find words in the English language that communicated even bigger than “ginormous.” Yet were the boxes really “ginormous?” In the end, did mothers in the shopping isles pay attention to the claims on the boxes?

A Guardian newspaper article highlighted an anomaly for us: why is there the almost universal tendency to headline as “digital butlers” the functions of a Personal Assistant? A headline invariably reads “Digital Butler” yet the text is all about PA-type functions being offered by some software or gizmo. The two functions are royally confused at the corporate and media levels, and thus no doubt in the public mind in general.

Letters to the Editor

“Dear Sir/Madam, I work for a wealthy and powerful family in Connecticut and am facing a quandary: I have “Felt The Bern” as the youngsters say, and very much would prefer Bernie Sanders to be president. However, my patron is a supporter of, and has met socially with, Donald Trump. My employer does not know of my political beliefs. Should I vote as I wish, or should I adhere to the wishes of the principal and help Donald Trump secure the presidency in the small way that I can with my one vote?”

Editor: You are your own person, and so should vote as you see fit. The days of being paid or “encouraged” to vote as desired by the Lord of the estate are holdovers from feudal times encroaching on democratic times. The whole purpose of a democracy is that everyone votes as they see fit based on information to hand; if democracy is operating as it should, that vote will be counted accurately and honored to result in a candidate desired by the majority (poignant, when you mention Mr. Sanders, given his experiences to date in various State primaries, as reported in the media). You have a duty to society and yourself, as well as your employer. The duty to the employer is to assist him in every way possible in his household and personal life. Any obligation does not extend to outside the household in matters such as politics. It should not need to be said that you would keep your choice to yourself, even if asked by the employer.

KobiGutmanSmallCreative Corner

How to Carve an Apple, Part 1

by Kobi Gutman

For the last few years I’ve been developing and practicing the art of apple carving (and related techniques, such as making soap) as part of my job as a Butler, in order to customize the fruit amenities given to guests on arrival and at turndown, or for special occasions. It is quite simple to do, unique, and being custom-made for the guest, it creates quite an effect. It doesn’t take much time at all and, to be honest, is quite fun for the Butler as well.

I intend, over the next few months, to share these various techniques so that other butlers around the world, whether in private service or hospitality, can offer their employers/guests the same solicitousness [showing interest or concern; eagerness to do something for another] and attention to detail.

The implements that you’ll need are as follows: Apple, knife (I use an X-Acto knife) and lemon (to prevent oxidation of the apple). For more complex designs, you might need a printer and some Scotch tape.


I have made up my own terms, which while they may be fairly obvious, need to be defined to ensure no confusion:

Carving an apple

Draw – to make grooves with a knife of the desired figure or design;

Frame – the shape that surrounds the figure. In the image to the right, it is the oval that surrounds the frog;

Cut out – to remove pieces of the flesh of the apple. In the image, the area between the frog and the frame is cut out and therefore embossed (a design carved on a surface that stands out);

Peel – to remove the skin of the apple without cutting out the flesh beneath it. In this image, it is the design within the frog’s body.


  1. Choose the right apple—I only use bright red apples, such as Red Delicious, not green nor yellow, because the contrast between the flesh and the skin is excellent in red. Visually inspect the apple for any bruised, rotten, or over-ripe spots, and lightly press any suspect spots to see if they may be soft to the touch. The apple should be firm and red all over. It is not fun to discover such a spot after you have already put in time carving. I also recommend paying attention to the shape of the apple to make sure it will fit the type of design you wish to carve. A horizontal design (such as text, for example), will look better on a wider apple;
  2. Draw the figure or design that you wish. Note: For a more complicated design, or even for a simple one, it is easier, faster, and more accurate to print the desired image, cut it out with the knife, tape it onto the apple, and use this stencil to cut the pattern into the apple. I will explain the technique for this in Part 2;
  3. Draw the frame;
  4. Either cut out or peel the area between the frame and the design and any other areas that are needed, according to your design. When cutting out the flesh, do it in small pieces, one piece at a time;
  5. Spray lemon juice as you go so the apple doesn’t go brown.

I suggest practicing with simple designs to acquire the feel of how the technique works: Draw a heart shape on an apple, for instance, draw a circle around it as the frame, and cut out the area in between. You can even draw a small bean shape toward the top of the heart and peel it in order to add a small highlight/reflection of light. Remember to “lemonize’ as you go.

In the next part, I will provide some tips and tricks, as well as  explain the ‘print method’ in more detail.

Kobi Gutman is the Head Butler at the Fort Harrison Retreat in Florida. He can be contacted via the Institute: enquiries @

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

Let’s Talk about Mixology, Part 12

by Amer Vargas 

The Silk Stocking Cocktail

Today, we take the name of a 1950’s Broadway musical and film to talk about a seductive and smooth cocktail initially made for ladies, but nowadays, enjoyed by anyone who appreciates a delicious apéritif or after-dessert drink.

There is not much information regarding the origin of this cocktail, but it’s thought to have been created during the 1920’s, at a time when cocktails were named with innuendo and sensuality in mind. Its pink color catered to the kind of drinkers for which it was created.

As a trivia, in the “every cocktail has a day” calendar of barmen, the Silk Stockings cocktail day is October 24th, in homage to the day in 1939 when nylon stockings appeared for the first time at New York’s World Fair, thereby sending silk stockings into the history books.

This beautiful cocktail is as successful as it is easy to prepare, requiring just 1.5 oz/45 ml of Tequila blanco (white, not aged), 0.5 oz/15 ml of Crème de Cacao, 1 oz/30 ml of Cream, and a dash of Grenadine. Place ice into a classic cocktail glass to cool it, and more ice into a shaker, together with all the ingredients, and shake vigorously for 10 to 15 seconds. Discard the ice in the cocktail glass and strain the shaker into the glass. Finish with a flick of cinnamon powder. While the original recipe doesn’t ask for it, some bartenders like to add a raspberry or a maraschino cherry to add a color accent.

Sweet, soft, and with the kick that all tequila-based drinks have.


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

Of Butlers and Roses, Part 26 of 30

by GJ dePillis

Planning the Rose Garden for Security and Beauty

In terms of planting, each rose variety has attributes that would determine its optimal location; in addition, it also has a growth pattern that best suits certain planting locations—whether large pots, hedges, over brick walls, on latticed arches, along walkways, etc. Roses with a strong fragrance, for instance, are best located near where people sit or pass, so they can appreciate the bouquets; thorny roses would best be placed where burglars need to be deterred discreetly. And this security aspect is the focus of this month’s article.

According to Allstate Insurance Blog, arranging a landscape to deter burglars is called CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design). The insurance company highlights four things that one should be aware of when working with the gardening staff to ensure the safety of one’s employer’s family and assets. Coldwell Banker Real Estate also advises home security through thorny landscaping.

  • See & Be Seen: Use thorny rose bushes under windows and keep them to about 3 ft in height so that the area is still visible to neighbors and staff and does not provide “cover” for any intruder;

    Gertrude Jeckyll, rose and photo by David Austin Roses
    Gertrude Jeckyll, rose and photo by David Austin
  • Natural Access: Control the flow of people by providing clear lighting and pathways. Deter curious visitors from wandering into areas that are off-limits by use of “roadblocks,” such as boarder hedges of fragrant roses that entice passers by to stop and smell the roses while deterring them from crossing over the floral “fence.” Opt for open decorative iron fences laced with climbing and thorny roses. Lay gravel rock on the paths that not only deters weeds, but also creates sound with each step, alerting guard dogs and residents of an approaching visitor. Additionally, consider motion-sensitive solar powered lights. Avoid obscuring your employer’s home from public view, leaving enough of the house visible to neighbors or staff so they can notice intruders and alert authorities;
  • Territorial Reinforcement: in those estates that are open to public tours, clearly mark with signs and reinforce with landscaping, which areas are private and which are open to the public. The same can be done for any property that is not open to the public;
  • Maintenance: The “broken window theory” claims that if something is left in a state of disrepair, it encourages others to vandalize it and dump trash/rubbish there. If not for reason of aesthetics and pride, then at least for notions of security, it becomes imperative, therefore, that the gardening staff ensure the grounds are always well maintained, so as to dissuade or discourage those tending to act on their mischievous instincts.

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 @

Jeff Herman Consulting the Silver Expert

 by Jeffrey Herman

Q: Will a crystal salt lamp tarnish silver in its vicinity?

A: Salt molecules in the air will corrode silver. I do not know whether heat from the bulb in the salt lamp accelerates the dispersal of the salt, but I would not place salt anywhere near silver. On a related note, to prevent corrosion, empty the salt from silver salt shakers after each meal, rinse thoroughly with warm, running water, and dry 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.