A Picasso lithograph hanging in The Starkey Mansion
Our emotions are running high and contradictions in our everyday work life keep us off-center. We look for ways to feel that we still have good relationships, and we work diligently to stay safe, yet don’t fully believe what we are being told by the media, and fearful reactions make us wonder what we are doing. I occasionally contemplate where I would go if our country continued in this mode. This is not a pleasant experience. Is there going to be a future that’s worth my investment in it?
I’m getting many calls from Grads asking me for guidance. One family’s expectations were off the chart when they decided to vacate the city at once, wanting the vacant summer 6,000-square-foot home cleaned and readied in one day, along with preparing meals for the weekend. Another client kept a Grad at bay for 60 days without pay waiting for the state to be safe before she could return to work. Another Grad had to listen and support her Principal as she spilled her heart out over her constant fears of death.
The world has indeed changed, and with it, we are not our normal selves. We feel isolated, frightened when we allow ourselves to go there, overwhelmed, depressed, and unable to find comfort with our normal workouts, hobbies, friends, or family dinners and events. Our book clubs are not meeting; the wine tastings have been cancelled, my long-planned vacation has been cancelled, the news is always angry, negative and politically divisive.
I tell my Graduates to have faith. If you have no faith, find something to believe in to focus your attention. Get in touch with how you are feeling and what changes you would make in your personal life to create a more fulfilling experience when given the chance. I started reading best-selling books I have been putting off. Call members of your family or old friends you’ve not spoken to in a while; I certainly have. Like everyone else in the world, I’ve also baked some bread (check out my favorite bread recipe) and have started listening to opera, one of my favorite pastimes. Xavier, my husband, is hard at work building a pizza oven in our back garden! Clean something; that’s proven to be an actively healing process for both your body and your soul. Keep busy, work hard, and be mindful and conscious of what you are doing.
This will pass sooner or later. I can only think it will have many silver linings if only one takes the time to look. Be good to yourself and genuine with your employers; they are likely having a more difficult time than you are. Continue to know you will be taken care of…the universe has very deep pockets. I am thinking of you, your well-being, and your continued success!
Starkey Director of Education Xavier Medicin and David Strait pose at The Starkey Mansion
Serving foreign dignitaries and military generals doesn’t come without a certain amount of pressure, according to recent Starkey graduate David Strait.
“My most stressful moment as an Enlisted Aide was the first dinner I ever did,” Mr. Strait said. “I did not fully understand the timing of everything. I ended up having dinner served about a half hour to 45 minutes late.”
That blunder happened over 300 dinners ago. And Mr. Strait, the self-proclaimed “king of prep,” has never served dinner late since.
He’ll take that discipline and skill he’s cultivated over his career to serve in the position he accepted as a Household Manager/Chef for a highly successful couple with the intent of making a difference in their world.
“Mr. Strait, former Sergeant in the U.S. Army, is one of our honored Enlisted Aides who served his general and graduated from the Starkey Household Management program with the intent of finding a couple much like the generals he has served in the past to serve,” Mrs. Starkey said. “Mr. Strait, through his many years in service, grew his management abilities, his culinary abilities, and his people smarts to be a very good leader.”
Mr. Strait assumed his role as Household Manager at the 16,000-square-foot property this spring. Mr. Strait’s role includes culinary and security duties, as well as the supervision of a housekeeper and a ranch hand. The entire property, located outside of Phoenix, is 250 acres.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge, this being the largest house I’ve ever worked in,” Mr. Strait said. “Definitely taking charge of a full-time staff is all very exciting and something I’m looking forward to.”
Mr. Strait, originally from Billings, Mont., joined the Army in 2005, where he kept busy serving meals to 2,000 soldiers per day at Fort Hood, Texas. Mass-producing food at those kinds of volumes was challenging for Strait, who loves culinary creativity.
“You can’t play with the food. You can’t put your heart and soul into it,” he said.
Mr. Strait’s superiors recognized the maturity and mentality he had and recommended he become an Enlisted Aide, the military equivalent to a Household Manager. He went on to serve seven different general officers both in Washington, D.C. and Fort Hood, Texas.
“My love for the culinary arts didn’t develop until I became an Enlisted Aide in 2010,” he said, adding that he worked for an executive chef who taught him everything from classical French cooking, to presentation, to proper food cutting technique.
Over the course of Mr. Strait’s Enlisted Aide career, he has hosted more than 300 formal dinner events for the distinguished guests of his military officers. It was at these events that Mr. Strait started mastering his culinary crowd-pleasers, such as his spinach and mushroom beef tenderloin roulade with white wine truffle sauce, as well as his bacon-wrapped chestnuts with Worcestershire caramel sauce.
He’s gathered many accolades along the way, including two gold medals and a silver and a bronze medal at the 37th Annual Culinary Competition at Fort Lee. One of the gold medals was for Mr. Strait’s 5’6” chocolate sculpture of a Texas Ranger cowboy that weighed 600 pounds.
Mr. Strait completed his Starkey courses during the fall of 2019 at The Starkey Mansion, and says the tools he gained will help him immensely in his new role as a Household Manager/Chef. During his training, Mrs. Starkey began to see clearly who the perfect employer would be for him.
“When I first became an Enlisted Aide, I heard about the Starkey program. I told myself, ‘I’m going to become a Starkey graduate,’” Mr. Strait said. “That’s what I told myself over 10 years ago.”
For more information about Starkey’s current course offerings, check out our current 2020 course schedule, or email Xavier Medicin, Starkey’s Director of Education, at email@example.com.
Announcing: Connecting Starkey Grads
Starkey Graduates are now close to 1,500 in number and almost 25 years old in quality and experience. Congratulations to each of you. I am most proud of the work we all have accomplished. You have raised the bar and changed the way Private Service is delivered.Starkey continues to be asked to find ways of connecting you to one another. While we have opted to support DEMA in their conference efforts, and not continue Restoring the Art gatherings, we do feel those educated at Starkey have the ability and need to share with each other. If you have an interest in connecting with other Graduates for sharing knowledge, discussing the merits of available national resources, or if you are just feeling isolated and wish to connect privately with others from your Graduating class or in your current employment location, please follow the attached link to formally register your interest. Call Starkey to connect to other Graduates (303) 832-5510