Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Absolute Must Do's for a Dinner Party Guest

Behind every successful dinner party is an attentive host who carefully choreographs each and every detail of the evening. On the other hand, even the most talented host won’t be able to salvage a dinner party whose guests are delinquent when it comes to their role.

So, what are the absolute must do’s for every dinner party guest?

1. Show up on time; which means arriving 10 minutes after the invitation is called for. Don’t be early since the host won’t appreciate it and remember there is no such thing as being fashionably late.

2. Turn your cell phone off; few things are ruder than the ring of a cell phone during the dinner hour.

3. Circulate and Mingle
during the cocktail hour. There is no greater bore than one guest monopolizing the company of another guest.

4. Wait for the hostess to start before you begin to eat.
As with so many details of a dinner party, the hostess will provide the guest with social cues; so pay attention.

5. Send a thank-you note.
An emailed thank-you is never acceptable while a personalized handwritten thank-you note is a gesture that will always be well received. For a more casual event, a telephone call the day after the dinner will suffice.

Remember there is such a thing as a “bad guest”. Following through on the 5 Absolute Must Do’s will help ensure that you never fall into that category.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Miniature Flower Arranging Made Simple

In this video, which is part of a series, miniature flower arranging is explained in simple, straight forward steps. I hope you find it helpful.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wardrobe Presentation at Taj Hotels

I wanted to share with you some video footage of how the Taj butlers organized my closet after unpacking my suitcase. They really do have great attention to detail.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Laundry Presentation at Taj Hotels

I am back from India where I was training for Taj Hotels in both New Delhi and Mumbai. It was such a fantastic experience and one for which I am thankful. I have finally recovered from jet lag and I am slowly catching up with all of the work at my desk. I wanted to share with you this short clip that demonstrates some of the incredible attention to detail I encountered during my stay. I hope you appreciate it as much as I did.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Flower Arranging Made... Almost Simple

I was once told that a flower arrangement's beauty rests on the use of wonderful, fresh, seasonal flowers that are enhanced by a great container or vase. I was told that with those two items in hand, it would be difficult not to create a beautiful arrangement. Experience, however, not to mention having a dear friend who is a talented florist, have taught me that the value of creativity should never be underestimated. Having in your rolodex a few good, creative and trustworthy florists from different cities is essential for any butler or house manager at the end of any day.

With that said, the video below gives simple step-by-step instructions on how to create a fantastic arrangement on your own. In a pinch, it's always a good thing to have a few tricks of the florist trade up your sleeve.

Monday, July 27, 2009

We're in the News!

Recently, the Academy seems to be receiving a great deal of media coverage, which has me wondering why. Don't get me wrong, I am most definitely not complaining. And, I may be a little biased, but I actually agree that the Academy is wonderful good news story.

As I think about it, the media seems to be responding to an uptick in interest from the general public in training for alternative professions. In today's economy we are all having to go back to school to some degree, whether it be economists trying to understand what went wrong or the person who just lost a job in the automotive sector who is considering a career change into private service as a House Manager.

When job markets are tight, as they continue to be both in Canada and the US, schooling represents an opportunity to re-tool for a different career. This, at least, seems to be the case with many of the recent Academy applicants.

Our most recent coverage is a feature in today's edition of the Toronto Star written by Ben Rayner. Follow the link to find the article: http://www.thestar.com/article/672231

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Spring/Summer '09 Graduating Class

This was a happy weekend for us at the Charles MacPherson Academy. On Saturday students wrote their final exams, on Sunday they graduated from the program and as of today they are beginning their private service careers with the skills and knowledge they will need to succeed in their new field.

I always have mixed feelings on graduation day at the end of the 8-week program. On the one hand I'm happy and proud of the students and I'm genuinely excited for them as they enter the workforce. On the other hand, I'm always a little sad to see everyone leave. I guess I'm suffering from the empty nest syndrome.

To continue with the nest metaphor, I was very happy to see an alumnus "return to the nest" for the graduating ceremony. I always tell students that they should feel that the Academy is their home away from home. It was truly gratifying to know that those words were taken seriously by our top graduate from the previous session.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

How to Steam a Ballgown with Bonnie Aprile

I am so happy to have former house manager, Bonnie Aprile teaching at the Academy. She has been a welcome addition to our team of instructors. Ms. Aprile's specialty is in housekeeping as well as wardrobe management.

In this clip, Ms. Aprile teaches student Brian Betsworth how to properly steam a ballgown. I'm sorry about the sound quality. Hopefully everyone will be able to hear the instructions.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Household as Theatre with John Robertson

In this second installment of my conversation with Mr. Robertson, the household as theatre is discussed. I've always thought it's a very instructive analogy for those either already working in or for those thinking of entering private service. I hope you enjoy the video.

Remember to send in your questions for the "Ask Charles" segments of The Butler Speaks. I'll do my best to answer them all!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Chat with John Robertson, Butler and Expert in Protocol and Etiquette

John Robertson is a good friend as well as an instructor at the Charles MacPherson Academy. He is also a professional house manager and recognized trainer in the private service industry. From California to Dubai, he has taught service and butler skills in five- and seven-star hotels and exclusive clubs, in private homes and aboard private yachts.

John received his formal protocol and etiquette training and certification from The Protocol School of Washington and his formal butler training at the Ivor Spencer International School for Butler Administrators in London. He attended the University of Toronto, Concordia University and Harvard. More recently, Cornell University determined his cumulative education and experience, the equivalent of a bachelor of arts degree in hospitality management.

In this first of two videos, Charles chats with Mr. Robertson about how he became a butler as well as an expert in protocol and etiquette.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sabering Champagne with Marcel

Marcel Bregstein, Sommelier and Clubhouse Manager at the prestigious Toronto Hunt Club, demonstrates to the students the traditional art of opening a bottle of champagne using a sabre.

Remember, don’t try this at home. It’s better to leave it to the “sabre-rattling” professionals!

Finally, we cannot report whether or not the students enjoyed a glass of champagne after Mr. Bregstein’s demonstration.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Tour of the Charles MacPherson Academy

Today the students are out of class to receive their certification for first aid. Because the classroom is empty, I thought I would take advantage and take some photographs so that everyone could see our Academy for Butlers and Household Managers.

My objective when we were designing the space was to provide a laboratory setting where each student receives a hands-on learning experience using all the tools and products of a fine home. The room is designed so that it can be altered into all kinds of teaching forums - from a traditional classroom setting to a laundry room, and from a butler's pantry to a fully stocked wardrobe.

The key to the room's success is its flexibility so that the learning experience of each student can be maximized. I hope these photographs help to convey that flexibility. I also hope you enjoy the tour!

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Inaugural Fireside Chat with Charles - Part 2

In Part 2 of the fireside chat, Charles explains the process for storing cashmere sweaters.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Inaugural Fireside Chat with Charles

Welcome to the inaugural fireside chat with Charles in which he answers questions relating to butling and household management.

We were very happy to see that in a short period of time, we had quite a few fantastic questions come in. If you would like to submit a question to Charles, please either enter your query in the Comments section of the blog or email us at info@charlesmacpherson.com using the subject line "The Butler Speaks".

We hope everyone has as much fun watching this video as we did making it!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Place Setting with a Butler Stick

With assistance from a student from the Academy, Charles explains how to use a butler stick when place setting for a formal dinner.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Media Luncheon at The Academy

Yesterday we hosted a luncheon for media at The Charles MacPherson Academy for Butlers and Household Managers.

Besides enjoying an incredible lunch created by star chef, Arpi Magyar, that consisted of the largest tiger shrimp I think I've ever seen, guests were invited to participate in learning how to make a perfect introduction, set a table fit for a member of the royal family, pack a suitcase like a movie star and much more.

Guests also had an opportunity to meet students who are enrolled in the current Academy session... at least one of them who comes to us as far away as New Zealand!

It was wonderful seeing our teaching laboratory transformed into such a fabulous entertaining facility. I can definitely say that a good time was had by all!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

How to pack a suitcase... Part 3

Continuing with the series, Charles explains to the students how to prepare a suit jacket for travel.

How to pack a suitcase... Part 2

Charles demonstrates the importance of using tissue to reduce the potential for creasing of packed clothing. In this case Charles lines the suitcase with tissue before placing anything within it.

Monday, June 8, 2009

How to pack a suitcase... Part 1

Charles takes the class through the fundamentals of packing a suitcase. Watch Charles as he explains to the students where the bottom of the suitcase is.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ask Charles

One of the regular talky segments I plan to introduce to the blog are videos where I answer questions posed by visitors to the site. We already have some good ones coming in. Questions can include anything pertaining to private service issues, common household sticky wickets, positioning oneself for employment opportunities and so on. Questions can be sent to butler@charlesmacpherson.com

I promise not to be shy if you viewers promise to do the same!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Butler Speaks... For the very first time

I've been wanting to create a blog for sometime now. I've delayed on starting one because I wasn't sure of the format, objective and direction I would like my blog to take. I knew that I didn't want it to be like other private service blogs. I wanted to avoid making it overly promotional and excessively reliant on written text alone. I did want to make it fun, informative and a place where private service professionals and those working in the luxury hospitality sector would enjoy visiting on a regular basis.

I'm excited to report that I think I figured it out... So stay tuned. We have some exciting content on the way that I'm pretty sure is going to keep all of you dropping in for more.

The Butler Speaks