Friday, December 7, 2012

Be Unlike Bridget

Be unlike Bridget: Etiquette for the season

Be unlike Bridget: Etiquette for the season

Photograph by: Screengrab , YouTube/Bridget Jones' Diary

Marching into the holiday season armed only with the advice to “not drink too much at the office Christmas party” does you no favours. There are many more things to be mindful of while socializing with colleagues, a group of friends or even your own family.
To provide you a better defense against etiquette injustice we turned to civility expert, Charles MacPherson, owner of Charles MacPherson Academy, the only accredited school in North America for Butlers and Household Managers, for some pointers to help you maintain your reputation (and dignity!) this season and beyond the holidays.
Because the holidays offer opportunities to mingle in company you might seldom see, knowing good conversation starters, and the ones to avoid, will help you get off on the right foot, whether you’re meeting somebody for the first time or rekindling an old friendship.
Generally, keep politics, religion and careers off the table too. Comments like, “thank God the Democrats won!” even if that’s how you feel and assume they do too, can ignite unwelcome debate - says Charles, “These questions may open a Pandora’s box of emotions that are not appropriate at a social gathering”.
But also, be mindful when asking questions of a more personal nature. People are especially sensitive to those questions with more judgmental connotations. Asking someone if they’re still single is an obvious no-no (we all remember that Bridget Jones dinner scene!) Also, questions like “How is the job search going?” or “Is your divorce over and final yet?” are never appropriate.
Instead, MacPherson recommends preparing your conversation well in advance, soaking up days’ worth of lighter current events before visiting. Other than starting with the boring ole adage of the weather, reading the newspaper for several days before you attend a party will give you plenty of topic areas to choose from, and witty replies to someone’s else’s comments.
You could also start a conversation by commenting on an item you like in your host’s home, like “I love that painting! Who is the artist?” The point is to pick a positive topic on neutral ground, which is more factual than personal or subjective. After all, good conversation is an art.
If you’re hosting a dinner party and you’ve invited your whole slew of friends, despite a couple of them having a less-than-positive history with one another, you shoulder even more responsibility for how things proceed. How do you set up the table? For the seating arrangement MacPherson advises that there absolutely is protocol to follow, known as a “pecking order” or “order of preference”.
At a more formal event, this is often decided by rank of importance (read: wealth) but as the host of a house gathering, you need to take it upon yourself to seat people where conversation will flow easily, like gravy on mashed potatoes. Consider what your guests have in common, what they could discuss, and how they could contribute to their end of the table. Don’t put all the rollicking extroverts on one end and the introverts on the other!
For those two who have shared ill words in the past, avoid stress lingering over the whole table and seat them far apart, while giving them each the same rank and respect in the pecking order. In other words, avoid keeping one at the main table and suggesting the other joins the kids – that would be plain rude.
Finally, as the host try to prepare everything well in advance so you’re yourself at your most sparkling and relaxed. A frazzled host can create a bristled atmosphere. Provide yourself with a few safety nets; easier courses that won’t keep you in the kitchen the whole time, plenty of nibbles to sate guests before the meal, and – of course – keep the beverages flowing… With the right preparation, both you and your guests will be merry and bright!
Stay classy, Canada!
For more tips on etiquette, check out Charles MacPherson on CTV’s The Marilyn Denis Show every Monday, or visit his website at

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Canada's Favourite Butler Charles MacPherson: Gift Ideas For Every Holiday Host and Hostess

I thought you might like to know about this great presentation that I am doing next week.

November-21-12, First Canadian Place Gallery
12:15 PM,1:15 PM

Mind your manners! Canada’s favourite butler and a popular guest on The Marilyn Denis Show, Charles MacPherson will share advice on how to be a gracious guest – from when to arrive at a dinner party to presenting the hostess with a gift. He’ll be showcasing his “Top 10” hostess gifts of the season. The best part? You’ll be able to find all of his gift suggestions right here, in stores in First Canadian Place and the Exchange Tower. Charles will also address the tradition of sending out thank-you notes – when to send, who to send them to and what to write – and, of course, the merits of sending a handwritten versus an email thank-you.

Presented in association with the stores in First Canadian Place and the Exchange

Monday, November 12, 2012

Praise for The Butler Speaks

I just thought you might be interested in what people are saying about our book to be released April 2013 by Random House.  What a list of great company below, I am truly honoured, Thank you!!

Praise for The Butler Speaks
Charles MacPherson

“Charles the Butler taught me to truly understand what luxury is. He alone deserves the fifth highly coveted luxury hotel star.” —Oliver Cremont, Former Head Butler, Fouquet’s Barrier Hotel, Paris

“All warmth and charm, Charles takes the stuffiness out of butlering. When Charles the Butler speaks, I listen! He presents the ‘old school’ lessons of etiquette, entertaining and housekeeping in a way that everyone can learn. I am proud he is a Master Trainer at my school.” ­—Pamela Eyring, President, The Protocol School of Washington

“Charles has been my go-to resource for nearly a decade now. His expertise, elegance, and thoughtful tips are an unbeatable combination. I am thrilled that he is sharing his in-depth knowledge with the public in this handy resource." —Benjamen Douglas, Former Household Manager to Morgan Freeman and Myrna Colley-Lee

“One of my favourite guests, Charles the Butler gives great advice on managing your life, loving laundry and pursuing good manners.” —Marilyn Denis, host of The Marilyn Denis show

“The Butler Speaks is your definitive guide to the art of living well, delivered with the wit, charm, style—and simple common sense—that you have come to expect from Charles’ columns in Metro. Keep it handy and you’ll never misstep!” —Charlotte Empey, Editor-in-Chief, Metro English Canada

“In a world where impersonal technology increasingly drives human interaction, Charles MacPherson reminds us just how powerful and dynamic the personal touch can be in our daily lives and how attention to even the smallest of details can give us an edge—whether we live in small studio apartment or entertain in mansions; whether we wish to connect with a few or impress hundreds. The Butler Speaks is a must-have resource, from the corporate executive to the recent university graduate and everyone in between.” —Chris Young, President, Protocol & Diplomacy International, Protocol Officers Association

“Not everyone needs, wants or can afford a butler, but anyone who takes pride in their home and in entertaining their family and friends will find within these pages the tips and tricks that a professional butler uses to define the ultimate standards of a privately staffed house.” —John Robertson, butler to their graces the Duke and Duchess of Northumblerland, Alnwick Castle

Friday, November 9, 2012

Butler’s party favours

 Charles MacPherson, Special to National Post

For some people, entertaining is a pleasure while for others it is nothing more than a stressful obligation. It’s made even more difficult if you’re designing a space for entertaining in a new luxury condo.

Where to begin? My good friend, Doug Remple, who is a real estate agent, once taught me that when you are buying a new space, “never purchase or plan for the one extreme time of the year.”

This means, if you entertain your entire family of 36 only at Christmas, don’t purchase a home that can seat 36 people perfectly on Dec. 25 because the rest of the year your dining room will feel like a vacant cavernous airplane hangar. There are always ways to deal with those once-a-year occasions to avoid this costly empty space.

Ask yourself how you like to entertain. Do you like to hold formal sit-down dinner parties, casual buffets where people mingle and eat off their laps all over the apartment or are you a cocktail party kind of person? Do you like six or eight people over for an intimate occasion that you personally cook, or does a large crowd with a caterer and wait staff suit your needs? And most important, how often do you like to entertain?

Some families entertain yearly for a specific holiday or birthday, so in these circumstances instead of having a large inventory of dinnerware and space you rarely use, a rental company can supply you with all you will need. This includes tables, chairs, linens, dishes and even candles and napkin rings. This allows you to set up the table in part of a large living room and/or convert the library or great room into a dining room for an evening that will flow perfectly.

Some clients I know who love cooking and entertaining use this as an opportunity to build their dream kitchen. I remember one family in particular that had their caterer/chef Simon Kattar of Toronto’s à la Carte Kitchen design the layout and specify the equipment so that large restaurant pots and pans and cooking trays could all fit in their oven and fridge, thus making catering at the new condominium a breeze. This was a brilliant move on everyone’s part.

Quite interestingly, I had a New York client who loved pizza so much that he had an authentic pizza oven installed in his kitchen and would hire the local pizza boy to come to his Tribeca condo and make professional pies all night for his guests. These ideas are what luxury living should be all about.

The other side of the coin are those who can’t stand cooking. In fact, they will do everything in their power to avoid it.

Moving into a luxury condominium presents the perfect opportunity for change. Luxury condominiums often have a party room that is ideal for entertaining with a caterer and allows you to keep all of the mess out of your personal space, while still entertaining within your building. Some people will invite guests over to view their new apartment and then move to the party room for cocktails, and dinner — truly a perfect solution.

There are additional options to consider when moving into a luxury condominium. Perhaps this is the time that you may wish to stop entertaining the whole family and pass the torch to one of your children and let them take responsibility.

As well, many fine hotels and restaurants are open with special menus for Christmas and other holidays where you can take the entire gang for the dining portion of the holiday. I know many couples who invite guests to their apartment for cocktails and then walk to a nearby restaurant. This is one of the advantages of living downtown.

The next logical question is how much space do you really need? From the butler’s perspective, there are some great little formulas that help you calculate the exact amount of space needed for entertaining and how many guests will comfortably fit within an area.

Cocktail parties in an empty party room require a minimum of six square feet per person, and goes to 10 square feet per person with a stationary bar, and as soon as you have furniture such as couches, coffee tables and such, count a minimum of 12 square feet per person to allow guests to be comfortable and mingle.

‘Sit-down dinners will need an average of 18 square feet per person to accommodate the average dinning table and chairs; 20 square feet per person leaves enough room for people to move around. These formulas are tried and true; there is nothing worse than a space that is too full, making your guests feel uncomfortable.

A few additional formulas that will also help you: The average 60-inch round rental table holds eight formally and 10 as a maximum squeezed in elbow to elbow. The average eight-foot-long and 36-inch wide rental table seats six comfortably and eight as a maximum.

Finally, when entertaining, think about the building and how its amenities can improve your guests’ experience. Is there a doorman and does he require your guest list? If yes, this would allow him and the valet (if included) to greet your guests and allow them entry into your building without having to call and announce each guest individually.

Also consider the number of guest-parking spaces and whether or not you need to advise people of a nearby parking lot.

Entertaining with style, whether you are the consummate or reluctant host/hostess should be a joyful experience, and planning big-picture details as well as the small will help you relax during the event.

Butlers - very good, sir

Newly rich people like old English traditions.  It’ll cost them

A good butler keeps things calm PAOLO GABRIELE was Pope Benedict XVI’s butler. But he breached his trade’s cardinal rule: discretion. On October 6th a Vatican court found him guilty of aggravated theft, after he leaked documents to a journalist (though a pardon is thought to be pending). Despite a trickle of scandals involving talkative ex-butlers, demand is soaring. So is the complexity of the job. A birthday in Venezuela organised by Anthony Seddon-Holland, a British soldier-turned-butler, involved three planeloads of guests and security, and booking an entire hotel, plus rock band and film stars.
Bespoke Bureau, a London agency, has placed 345 butlers this year—twice as many as in all of 2011. The five-week training courses Mr Seddon-Holland runs at his Guild of British Butlers, which he set up in 2007, are booked until 2013. Demand increases by around a fifth every year. He is considering launching new courses in New York and sees Latin America as a potentially “monstrous” market.

Hollywood films and the success of television shows like “Downton Abbey” that depict butlers as discreet, resourceful and quintessentially English have helped. Britain’s class system is a factor too, especially for customers from republican countries such as Russia and China where the newly rich hanker after old aristocratic glitz. Clients are paying for British traditions, hierarchy and experience, Ms Vestin Rahmani says. Below the surface, the skills are closer to those of a manager than a servant: for an (unnamed) Russian oligarch, Mr Seddon-Holland managed properties on several continents and organised 60 permanent staff.

A world-class butler can earn up to £150,000 ($240,000) plus bonus, separate living accommodation and all expenses. If a wealthy client finds you indispensable, Mr Seddon-Holland says, a butler can “demand almost anything” to stay put.

Employers may need some help in learning to make the most of their expensive new toy. Rick Fink of the Butler-Valet School in Oxfordshire encourages employers to take his £8,000 four-week course too: that helps them avoid misunderstandings about port (passed only to the left, regardless of rank) and the vital semantic differences between a formal dessert (fruit, nuts and sweets) and pudding (a course cooked by the chef). Just like their butlers, employers ought to get everything right.

The print edition of this article wrongly said that Mr Gabriele was convicted by an Italian court. It was of course a Vatican one. Sorry.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Butler Speaks - The Book!

It is with great pleasure and huge excitement that I continue to announce the soon to be released book The Butler Speaks.  I have spent several years compiling the information for this book and I think you will find it both most interesting and more importantly useful.
Pre-orders on sale are now available on and the link is below to help you find the page.  The book is being released April 23, 2013. 

I will happily share with you how the book is progressing over the next 5 months, as currently we are working with the Art Department on the inside layouts, it is so exciting to see this all come together!

More to follow as it develops.

Pre-order the book here!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Helping Yourself To A Friend's Refrigerator

Dear Charles the Butler:
When I go to my best friend home I never hesitate to go into their refrigerator and help myself to get something to drink.  My husband says that this is absolutely not done and is rude and I must stop doing this.  I grew up in a big family where this was normal, what do you think?

Well I’m sorry to say, I am definitely on your husband’s side on this one.  A best friend who you see all of the time is one thing, but going into their refrigerator and just helping yourself if plane wrong.  What if you eat something they are preparing for dinner later that night?  What if you eat something that is a left over that they are saving for a midnight snack?  Even though my mother has never said no to me, and I haven’t lived at home for the past 25 years, I still always ask if she minds if I can have something (food or beverage) from her refrigerator.  For me it’s just a position of politeness and making sure my mom isn’t saving it for anything.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Graceful Words of Wisdom From an Expert on Etiquette


As fate would have it, Letitia Baldrige died on the same day that Hurricane Sandy made a bullseye of our corner of the globe. She might have had some thoughts on how people should behave during and after the storm. She had them for other crises, so why not this one?
Clyde Haberman offers his take on the news.

Ms. Baldrige, who was 86, was best known as a leading authority on etiquette, a subject that often lends itself to parody and even ridicule. But etiquette for her meant a good deal more than knowing which fork to use at a formal dinner or whether it is proper to haul out the straw fedora before Memorial Day. Her core concern was good manners, which she saw as nothing more than common sense, with a dash of kindness stirred in.

On that basis, I turned to her at times for rulings on acceptable behavior in a rapidly changing, digitalized, gizmo-centric world where thank you is reduced to tnx and please to pls. She was not stuffy, just reasonable.

One such moment dealt with disaster, specifically on the Staten Island Ferry. This was in 1998, and it was a theoretical exercise. A true horror, the crash of the ferry Andrew J. Barberi, which killed 11 people and injured dozens of others, did not occur until five years later.

In early 1998, about half a year after fares were eliminated on the ferry, some Staten Islanders suspected they were being taken for a ride, even if it was now free. Service had begun to fray, they complained. To make matters worse, the then-popular film “Titanic” inspired a magazine article on how the ferries did not have enough lifeboats and rafts should any of them sink. While no weepy Leonardo-and-Kate moment seemed likely in New York Harbor, the news did not sit well with regular ferry passengers.

That led to a question about disaster etiquette, one that could easily have applied to rescue efforts during Hurricane Sandy: Does the old tradition of women and children first still hold? Or is “get outta my way” the prevailing ethos?

“Children always must be saved first,” Ms. Baldrige said firmly. But women? Not so fast. At 6 feet 1 inch tall, she expected no special consideration. “Whoever is strong and healthy can help the ones who aren’t,” she said.

Fair enough.

Sometime later, the use and abuse of first names arose. There was a blossoming trend, in full flourish today, of identifying a proposed law by a first name, usually that of a victim who was a woman or a child, like Megan or Jenna or Elisa. It gave the legislation an emotional wallop, and made challengers look like ogres.

Ms. Baldrige was not comfortable with this. But she verged on apoplexy when it came to people — pretty much everyone by now — who phone or e-mail total strangers and instantly address them by their first names as if they were old buddies. (Public-relations practitioners, take heed.) To her, a false concept of democratic equality was in play.

“It is bad, bad, bad,” she told me. In case you missed her point, it’s really bad. “It destroys deference,” she said. “It destroys authority. It destroys respect.”

She was no more taken with technological features like caller ID, which enabled you to tell even before picking up the phone who was on the other end. Do you start, as many do, with an all-knowing, “How’s it going, pal?” Or do you play out a time-tested ritual and let the other person identify himself first?

Perhaps not surprisingly, Ms. Baldrige preferred a traditional approach. “Be very nondescript,” she advised. “Less is more. The less information we give out, the better.”

She felt in general that technology was changing us faster than was healthy: “For every step forward in electronic communications we’ve taken two steps back in humanity. People know how to use a computer and answering machines but have forgotten how to connect with one another. Our society is unraveling. We’re too self-obsessed.”

That was said to a reporter for The New York Times in 1992 — long before smartphones, iPods and other devices, wondrous though they may be, turned many people into social zombies, unable to sustain a conversation for more than 30 seconds without refocusing on the screen.

Too bad Ms. Baldrige died before there was a chance to ask her about the enduring effects of these innovations, or about offenders like smartphone users who stop at the top of subway stairs, blocking everyone else while they check their messages.

But we do know, to get back to the Staten Island Ferry, what she thought of some riders who, even as the fare was being eliminated, grumbled about the service they were already certain would deteriorate.

They were handed a gift. And the correct thing to do on such an occasion, she said, is to offer two simple words: thank you. Certainly not tnx. Just thank you.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Letitia Baldrige Doyenne of Etiquette Dies at 86

By , New York Times, Published: October 30, 2012

Letitia Baldrige, the imposing author, etiquette adviser and business executive who became a household name as Jacqueline Kennedy’s White House chief of staff, died on Monday in Bethesda, Md. She was 86. Her death was confirmed by Mary M. Mitchell, a longtime friend and collaborator.

At 35 Ms. Baldrige, known as Tish, left her job as public relations director for Tiffany & Company to help out a friend and fellow Vassar alumna, the former Jacqueline Bouvier, becoming, in essence, the social secretary of the Kennedy White House as it emerged as a center of culture, art, youthful elegance and sparkling state dinners. 

Ms. Baldrige left the White House in June 1963, less than six months before President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, to work for the Merchandise Mart, a Kennedy family business enterprise in Chicago. She went on to found her own public relations and marketing business. 

In the 1970s she established herself as an authority on contemporary etiquette, writing a syndicated newspaper column on the subject and updating “Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Book of Etiquette” in 1978, less than four years after Ms. Vanderbilt’s death. Ms. Baldrige’s face soon appeared on the cover of Time magazine, which hailed her as the nation’s social arbiter. 

After that, her own name was enough to attract readers, and in 1985 she published “Letitia Baldrige’s Complete Guide to Executive Manners,” which dealt with behavior in the workplace and outside it. In that book, she declared it acceptable to cut salad with a knife. She recommended that whoever reaches the door first — either man or woman — open it. And she suggested infrequent shampooing when staying on a yacht, to be considerate about conserving water. 

Ms. Baldrige, who stood 6 feet 1 inch tall and became known for her elegant silver hair, long contended that the heart of all etiquette was consideration for other people, rather than a rigid set of rules.
“There are major C.E.O.’s who do not know how to hold a knife and fork properly, but I don’t worry about that as much as the lack of kindness,” she told The New York Times in 1992. “There are two generations of people who have not learned how important it is to take time to say, ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and how people must relate to one another.” 

In addition to her all-purpose etiquette guides, she narrowed her focus in books about weddings, social lives, job success and child-rearing. Even when she went far afield of her specialty, as with “Public Affairs, Private Relations” (1991), a novel about romance and class differences in Washington, she threw in comments about manners. 

She wrote at least three books that capitalized on her brief, shining White House career: “In the Kennedy Style: Magical Evenings in the Kennedy White House” (1998, with René Verdon); “A Lady, First: My Life in the Kennedy White House and the American Embassies of Paris and Rome” (2001); and “The Kennedy Mystique” (2006, with four co-authors). Those books’ revelations tended toward menus, recipes and minor shockers, like Mrs. Kennedy’s habit of referring to Helen Thomas and another newswoman as “the harpies.” 

In a 1964 oral history interview for the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, she remembered the Kennedys as perfectionists and the president as an amazing manager.  “He was like a wonderful department store manager who goes through the store and knows everybody’s name and knows how all the departments work and knows how to wrap packages better than the wrappers in the wrapping department,” she said. Letitia Baldrige was born on Feb. 9, 1926, in Miami and grew up in Omaha, the youngest child of Howard Malcolm Baldrige, a Republican state legislator who became a United States congressman in 1930, and the former Regina Connell. (Their son Malcolm was secretary of commerce in the Reagan administration.) 

Growing up with two older brothers helped make her tough, Ms. Baldrige said. Speaking to her hometown newspaper, The Omaha World-Herald, in 1997, she recalled the time her brother Robert had swung his new baseball bat, a holiday gift, too close to her. “I was knocked unconscious for three hours,” she said. “My brothers called it the best Christmas so far.” 

Like her future employer Mrs. Kennedy, Letitia attended Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Conn., and received a bachelor’s degree from Vassar College. She did graduate work at the University of Geneva in Switzerland but still found that she had to learn secretarial skills to find a good State Department job. 

Beginning in the late 1940s, she worked in Paris as social secretary to David Bruce, the United States ambassador to France, and his wife, Evengeline; then in Rome as assistant to Clare Boothe Luce, at that time the ambassador to Italy. On that first job she made a major faux pas by unknowingly seating a Frenchman next to his wife’s lover at a dinner party. As a result, she often said, she learned the value of heartfelt, repeated apologies. 

When she returned to the United States, she went to work for Walter Hoving, the chairman of Tiffany & Company. Her first book was “Roman Candle” (1956), a memoir about her European adventures, which one critic, Elizabeth Janeway, accused of managing “to invest Rome with as much color and atmosphere as if it were her native Omaha.” Her last book was “Taste: Acquiring What Money Can’t Buy” (2007). 

Most of Ms. Baldrige’s career was spent as an entrepreneur, as head of her own businesses in Chicago, New York and Washington, where she had a home at the time of her death.  Yet she continued to be identified with her White House days. “That’s all right,” she told The Times in 1998. “It was a moment in history, and to be part of it is incredible.”  Ms. Baldrige married Robert Hollensteiner, a real estate developer, the year she left the White House. He survives her, along with their daughter, Clare Smyth; their son, Malcolm Baldrige Hollensteiner; and seven grandchildren. 

Family, Ms. Baldrige believed, was where the patterns for manners, humanity and true civilization were set, and the American family was failing to do its job.
“We are not passing values on to our children,” she told The Toronto Star in 1999. “We are not sitting down at the dinner table talking about the tiny things that add up to caring human beings. Jackie learned from her mom, who had beautiful manners.”

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I Have Arrived!

I am pleased to report, that after a painless five hour flight on Air Canada flight 787 (YYZ-LAX) I'm now safely in Los Angels, and will be spending the day tomorrow finishing my power point for my keynote address on Saturday morning.  The conference is almost fully sold out!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Lazy Day Labour Weekend!

I am with friends in Georgian Bay resting and enjoying the sounds of the water crashing on the shore and the fresh air blowing in the wind. Tonight in my log cabin I plan to light the stone fireplace while under the duvet. This is my idea of heaven!


Well it is Tuesday night and I'm at home in Toronto preparing for my departure to Los Angeles tomorrow. As it turns out I will be a key note speaker at The Domestic Estate Managers Association on Saturday morning.
My speech is about the relationship of the domestic estate manager, employers and trades. It's a great speech!!
I will update from LA along the way.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Butler’s guide to TIFF etiquette: How to ask an engaging question

Published on Wednesday September 05, 2012 in The Toronto Star (page A31)
Q: You are at the world premiere of Looper and waiting for the Q&A following the film. You’ve been dying to ask Bruce Willis a personal question about Demi Moore. Is this acceptable?
A: Well you can ask any question you want, but most likely Bruce Willis will not answer a personal question at the best of times, let alone in a movie theatre in front of 1,000 strangers. Rather than drawing foolish attention to yourself, think of and ask an interesting question to allow you the opportunity to have a fun and memorable exchange. Who knows, maybe your question will be interesting enough that everyone in the audience will tweet it!

Etiquette expert Charles MacPherson is the founder of The Charles MacPherson Academy, the only accredited school in North America for butlers and household

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Ladies Finishing School in 2012?

Concluding my ocean crossing last week on the RMS - Queen Mary 2, I had the pleasure and honour to visit a business colleague Madame Viviane Neri in Montreux, Switzerland.  Now Madame Neri owns one of the world’s most famous and well-respected ladies finishing schools.  While we were touring the school, I asked Madame Neri what I perceived as an innocent but most relevant question on all of our minds “why do women need to go to a ladies finishing school in the year 2012?”

Well foolish me for asking such a question, because I certainly got a bit of a well deserved earful.  As we ignorantly think of a ladies finishing schools, we perceive them as something antiquated of the past where ladies were taught how to dress and be a “perfect hostess” in a world where the man worked and the lady stayed home, kept house, raised their perfect children and lived and breathed to make her home perfect.  But nothing could be further from the truth, this school in 2012 has nothing to do with ladies who lunch, but is focused on training women to become professionals at international business.  It may seem silly to some, but understanding cross-cultural communication and being able to use these to your advantage in business gives you a distinctive advantage.  During the 6-week program students learn correct international table manners, table setting, correct and appropriate conversation and how to position this knowledge to their strict advantage. This school is so tough it even has 45 exams during the 6-week program in order to graduate with a diploma.  Remember many business deals occur in places other than a boardroom, and this is where the Institut Villa Pierrefeu has a distinct advantage as the oldest finishing school.  In fact our very own Queen Elizabeth II would be a great example.  She conducts international public relations, events and ceremonies on behalf of the government, but in her case she was taught these skills at home.  Today, the modern woman goes to this type of school to learn these vital skills.

So who is the typical student?  Well interestingly enough, women attend the school from North America, The Middle East and Asia.  It truly is a globally attended program, and just in case you are wondering, it is both middle class and everyone all the way up the social ladder to Royal families who makes up today’s typical classroom.  Now I would be remiss if I did not mention that as Canadians we will all be proud to learn that the Head Instructor at this school is Mrs. Rosemary McCullum, a born and raised fellow Canadian!  When I found this out, I was once again reminded one of the many reasons why I am so proud to be a Canadian!  The Swiss have imported a fellow Canadian to teach international manners to the world!

 Madame Viviane Neri
Proprietor and Friend

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Fresh Flowers

I am not sure how many of you may know how much I LOVE FRESH FLOWERS!  I personally think that there is no better luxury than being in a room with fresh flowers.  Yes I can hear my mother speaking about how expensive they are and how they don't last long, but when we do afford ourselves the luxury of having them I think that they brighten up a room that makes it all worth while!  Recently while clearing out pictures from my iPhone, I found some pictures that I had taken awhile back of some miniature "grape hyacinth" at the front door.  They are a delicacy to be enjoyed, and inside the front door was a magnificent arrangement of fresh delphinium flowers in an entrance hall.  Both of these are some of my all time favourite flowers and I hope you enjoy looking at these as much as I do!

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Queen Mary 2

Well for those of you that had a little trouble, I was on the one remaining ocean liner in the world called RMS, Queen Mary 2, which is owned and operated by the Cunard company.  I must say I was in stateroom 6071 and the entire trip was magnificent, I was truly able to get away, relax and have the perfect vacation.  Thank you to all of my friends aboard who took such good care of me!

As many of you already know, I had the honour to travel five years ago on this magnificent ocean liner to work with the great people of Cunard to develop the Butlering standards for this new ocean liner and I also had the pleasure of training the entire Butler department.  It was a truly magnificent project and one that will always be close to my heart.  I look forward to traveling many many many more times on such a splendid wonder!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The envelope please...

Well despite the lack of blog replies, I received many email replies and for that I say Thank You!!
So what is the correct answer? Where was I? Let's see if these final three pictures give you the exact clue.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Can you guess where I am?

I'm currently traveling somewhere in the world and would like to know if anyone can figure out where I might be?
Now unfortunately there is no prize for the first person who figures this out but I think it will be lots of fun!
so now a clue #1... I can be completely alone or with 2,500 of my new and closest best friends in a matter of minutes...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Friday, May 25, 2012

Final exams

It is Friday night and all of the students are at home preparing for their final exam tomorrow at Butler School then graduation!! Pictures to follow tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A wonderful weekend training in San Francisco!

I had a wonderful weekend with my friends in San Francisco last weekend presenting a housekeeper 101 training class - it was a great success and almost a full house! See you back in the fall.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Airport

My father is always trying to come up with interesting things for me in my life, I actually love that he does this.  Anyway along his journey, he found this video somewhere and sent it to me.   My father suggested that the next time I am bored, to open this and watch ..... thoughts anyone?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Air Canada Elite Status

So this may like a strange posting to some, however I was very excited to learn that as of this morning I have made Elite status on Air Canada.  This is the second highest level offered by both Air Canada and Aeroplan.  Now some may say this means you travel too much, but for me it is a simple badge of honour to have achieved this level so early in the year!  So when is my next flight?  TOMORROW already!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spring Cleaning Products

Well I am a little behind in this post, but here is a collection of some fun and interesting Spring Cleaning Products. I would love to hear what you think is some of your best and favorite products ... please don't be shy!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cell Phone Etiquette

Just in case you have no idea what you should be doing with your cell phone, here is a great segment that I did earlier this week on The Marilyn Denis Show talking all about cell phone etiquette. Let me know what you think!

The Best Nanny Money Can Buy...

As always another fantastic article from The New York Times, I personally love this newspaper! Just in case you have ever thought about a career change, remember the Domestic Industry is not such a bad place to be!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

When can I watch The Marilyn Denis Show?

Just in case anyone in Canada is wondering when you can watch The Marilyn Denis Show, this Local Listing guide tells you when we air every single week-day and weekend in Canada!

CTV (Monday-Friday)

Atlantic Canada - 11 a.m. AT
British Columbia - 11 a.m. PT
Calgary, AB - 9 a.m. MT
Edmonton, AB - 9 a.m. MT
Halifax, NS - 11 a.m. AT
Kitchener, ON - 10 a.m. ET
Lethbridge, AB - 9 a.m. MT
London, ON - 10 a.m. ET
Moncton, NB - 11 a.m. AT
Montreal, QC - 10 a.m. ET
North Bay, ON - 10 a.m. ET
Ottawa, ON - 10 a.m. ET
Prince Albert, SK - 1 p.m. CT
Regina, SK - 1 p.m. CT
Saint John, NB - 11 a.m. AT
Saskatoon, SK - 1 p.m. CT
Sault Ste. Marie, ON - 10 a.m. ET
Sydney, NS - 11 a.m. AT
Timmins, ON - 10 a.m. ET
Toronto, ON - 10 a.m. ET
Vancouver, BC - 11 a.m. PT
Winnipeg, MB - 1 p.m. CT
Yorkton, SK - 1 p.m. CT

CTV Two (Monday-Friday)

CTV Two Alberta - 12 p.m. MT
CTV Two Atlantic - 1 p.m. AT
CTV Two Barrie/Toronto - 11 a.m. ET
CTV Two London - 11 a.m. ET
CTV Two Ottawa - 11 a.m. ET, encore - 6 p.m. ET
CTV Two Vancouver Island - 2 p.m. PT
CTV Two Windsor - 11 a.m. ET

Bravo! (Monday-Friday)

8 a.m. & 12 p.m. ET encore 7 a.m. & 8 a.m. ET
5 a.m. & 9 a.m. PT encore 4 a.m. & 5 a.m. PT

The Best of the Marilyn Denis Show

CTV - Saturdays

2 p.m. all timezones

CTV Two - Sundays

CTV Two Alberta - 2 p.m. MT
CTV Two Atlantic - 3 p.m. AT
CTV Two Barrie/Toronto - 2 p.m. ET
CTV Two London - 2 p.m. ET
CTV Two Ottawa - 6 p.m. ET
CTV Two Vancouver Island - 2 p.m. PT
CTV Two Windsor - 2 p.m. ET

National Home Show

Earlier today, I was with my fellow Marilyn Denis experts at the National Home Show here in Toronto. These are some back stage pictures that we took before we went out to talk to the crowd. It sure was fun and such a great crowd, Thank you!!! Looking forward to seeing all of our fans in TV land!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

'You rang, Your Majesty?'

Accommodation is offered at Buckingham Palace for the successful candidate If you can carry out a range of duties from "messenger and valeting... to food and beverage service" in an "efficient and discreet manner", then you could be delivering the Queen's breakfast tray.

The Royal Household is advertising for a trainee butler - or footman. While mainly based at Buckingham Palace, about three months a year would be spent at other royal residences. The role pays £15,000 a year for a 45-hour week, and could lead to a City & Guilds Diploma for Butlers.

The official job description outlines the purpose of the role: "To provide the highest standards in the service of wine, food, valeting, messenger duties and reception in a friendly and efficient manner." The trainee butler's responsibilities would include:

  • Assisting in the setting, clearing and serving of meals
  • Valeting for guests and royals, "ensuring that clothes and uniforms are cared for to the highest standards"
  • Messenger duties, "ensuring that all post, pouches, despatch boxes and messages are delivered to Members of the Royal Family and employees in a timely manner"
  • "To collect and deliver tea/coffee trays, breakfast trays and newspapers for Royal and Household purposes in an efficient and discreet manner"

The advert states that previous experience working in the catering and hospitality sector would be an advantage. Essential skills include good time management, confident communication and team-working, as well as "a friendly, polite and approachable disposition with the ability to be discreet and maintain confidentiality".

The Royal Household is also advertising for a linen keeper to run the linen room at Windsor Castle. The role involves "the issue, maintenance and repair of modern and antique linen, including fine tableware and lace dating back to the 1900s". "Excellent hand and machine sewing skills" are required, to ensure any damaged linen is repaired "to the highest possible standard, as most linen is unique and irreplaceable

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Washing Dishes....

  • Do you know how to clean your dishes?
  • Do you know what kind of soap and how much to use?
  • Do you know what cloth to use?
  • Do you know how to dry dishes?
  • Do you need to soak dishes?


Monday, March 12, 2012

Earlier Today!

Earlier today I was doing my weekly segment on The Marilyn Denis Show and Ramsen and I decided we needed a picture for his blog... as you can see, Butler was not being a very good boy!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Behind the Scenes

Today I have had one of the best days and most fun in a long time. I was filming all day at my dear friend Alexis' home for a segment next month on The Marilyn Denis Show. Well you know once in awhile we get silly on the set, and this is what happens, Charles playing dress up with Alexis. Now for those of you who don't know who Alexis is, she is Marilyn Denis' personal stylist for the show.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Butlering Team at The Waldorf Astoria Shanghai

Well I have just spent a wonderful week at the fabulous Waldorf Astoria hotel in Shanghai. The Butlering team is wonderful and more importantly genuine. What more could you ask for? Congratulations to the entire team. You should be very proud of yourselves!

The Peninsula Hotel

Hello! I have arrived safely at the beautiful Peninsula Hotel in Shanghai. I'm looking forward to having lots of fun with this group and have settled in nicely into my fabulous Art Deco style room!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone