Let’s All Go To Butler School (Or Not)

There was a fascinating article about the “booming market” of modern-day butler schools in — where else? — the Wall Street Journal last week.

After a career culminating in the role of head butler at the U.S. Embassy in Germany, Mr. Wennekes started a recruitment agency for domestic staff. Soon after, in 1999, he set up the school to train candidates himself when demand began to outpace supply.

Today, his students follow an eight-week residential course in a castle in the south of the Netherlands. Field trips include an outing to Veuve Clicquot’s Champagne house, where they learn the airs of bubbly service, and a cigar master class in Germany, so they are up to snuff on Cubans, humidors and the like.

His school is registered as a nonprofit organization, with fees covering costs and profit made through placing staff. The cost to students—which includes a traditional uniform of tailcoat, gray vest, white gloves and a butler’s tie—is €13,750, or about $18,800.

I was all on board with becoming a butler until we got to the tuition part.

Apparently the main problem with the butler boom, aside from the rapid decline of the middle class, is that there is no worldwide established standard for butler training and there are many butler charlatans cropping up who do things like use tea bags for tea service — oof, major faux pas — and also this gem:

Certain indignities bother him more than others. Mr. Wennekes recalls, for instance, one student who had been taught by another school to pull the toe of a sleeping principal if he wasn’t awake in time for his breakfast tray.

“If my butler did that to me, I’d kick him out,” says Mr. Wennekes.

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