There it is — your kitchen. Spotless, spacious and so blissfully unaware of the role it will soon play in your first-ever holiday feast. With invitations sent out and a massive bird on order, how can you begin to prepare for the pandemonium this space will see when famished friends come to the door?
For the first time ever under the roof of Toronto’s historic Campbell House Museum, students of the Charles MacPherson Academy gathered last week to hone the art of fine service delivery in a dining setting.
Under the watchful helm of English butler and recognized etiquette expert Mr. John Robertson, students were led through a series of hands-on exercises including napkin folding, the appropriate receiving of guests at the door and the setting of a table for an elegant meal.
“I’ve read about many of the concepts we covered today but being able to implement them first-hand was so helpful,” said student India Poole, a former nanny from Chicago who hopes to transition to a career in household management.
“Particularly when it came to the napkin folding,” she added, after trying her hand at different styles in Campbell House’s rustic Robinette room. “I’ve always concentrated on getting that perfect fold, but learning to focus my attention on the corners was new to me.”
In the afternoon students made their way to the manor’s 19th century dining room, where they handled china and crystal with silk gloves and learned to transition the rules and protocol of societies past to the contemporary.
Carefully reviewing each facet of the highest quality of service, Mr. John Robertson imparted many of his own personal experiences to students from his history both as butler to senior members of the British aristocracy and house manager to affluent, modern families.
“Plan, organize, implement, control,” Mr. Robertson said to busy students as they gently set down salad plates to the right of their colleagues, poured wine in their glasses and announced to all that dinner was served in proper manner.
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