Formal Dinner SettingSocial protocol is an aspect of etiquette defined as a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary norms within a society, social class or group.

The French word etiquette literally signified a tag or label first used in the French Royal Court in the early to mid 1700’s to instruct guests on how to behave when dining at the King’s Table. In modern times, in the more common situation where the dinner table or other social gathering must be organized according to the degree of social rank and familial or professional relationships among the guests, it falls to the discretion of the hostess to determine who will take the highest position at the table as Guest of Honor to be seated at the right of the Hostess, with the Guest of Honor’s partner seated to the right of the Host.

At our Formal Dinners here at the Starkey Mansion, whatever the nature of our guests, this principal is still the foundation upon which the seating placement is based, and it does much to determine the social interaction and conversation during and after the meal.

“The Formal Dinner”

Formal SettingHave you ever attended a real formal dinner?  I have learned that most of us have not, unless you have experienced evening at the Queen’s table.  The term “formal dinner,” Americanized by the historically prominent Lady of Etiquette, Ms. Emily Post, does not mean “stuffy” as most might think; it means structured!  She said in her 1923 book of Etiquette, “The higher the level of structure, the higher the level of service one will experience,” and this is where I entered the eloquent venue of Formal Dinners.

Starkey International began thirty years ago and I have hosted 12 formal dinners a year as part of our Household and Service Management curriculum.  It has become a tried and true art form for us.  I consistently have “Run the Table” over the years and have tried almost everything.  We finally emerged with our current educational guide on Entertaining including tableware and settings, flowers, service timing and styles, entertainment, culinary menus, wines, conversation, apparel, and yes, only at the queen’s table, our mirrored service.   (more…)

Placement and Consulting in Service

Administrative -  Household ManagementThe Placement process has become quite sophisticated at Starkey International.  Typically, within the domestic industry, a number of candidate resumes are forwarded to a potential client presuming that they know what they are looking for; and that they know how to choose the most appropriate person for the position.  These resumes list who the candidate has worked for, a position title and generally what they did.  Unfortunately, our industry is still in its infancy and operates without a standardization of position titles, duties, accepted practices, or required education or certifications.

We have learned over the years that a good deal of resume interpretation must take place to learn what candidates’ real abilities are and what they actually know.   Starkey has created unique evaluation tools that help us to sort this out.

Understandably, our employers can be challenged when hiring.  Some employers have had private staff in the past and are looking to upgrade or replace.  Others are new to Private Service and do not know the degree to which Household Management positions vary, how to evaluate the position’s level of difficulty, essential abilities, or how education and experience might position a candidate’s understanding of the profession.  A Candidate’s skills, attitude, etiquette, boundaries and ability to customize a written Service Plan are essential.


Wealth Bulletin News

Thanks to the Wealth Bulletin News for featuring Starkey International in a recent article.  Here is the excerpt of that article:

Denver-based Starkey International Institute for Household Management runs several training courses for aspiring butlers, or household management, as is the Starkey line. Starkey places mainly in the US, but has seen a burgeoning demand for household help from other countries.
Household managers are trained in every aspect of domestic etiquette, from ironing a pair of French cuffs to clipping a 1926 Pardona cigar. (more…)