The Butler Did it – with the chef – at the Wandering Long Table Dinner. This is a sponsored post. I was the guest of Bjorgvin 1907 at dinner on July 13, 2018. No other remuneration was received and the sponsor did not see this post before publication. All words are my own. Photo credits to Christopher Chow of #yycexplorer unless otherwise indicated. Truth in advertising is important to uphold in my relationship with you, dear reader.
Cool Thing no. 56 on this blog
Alberta is full of culinary hidden gems and this is one of them. Bjorgvin 1907 is a rural culinary destination for long table dinners and afternoon teas. It’s about one hour north of Calgary in the tiny hamlet of Bergen, Alberta.
A butler is not something most of us in North America know much about. Meeting Andrew made me curious about what the role and duties of a butler are. This post will delve into that and share the beauty and elegance of a dinner I attended at Bjorgvin 1907. You can learn more about tickets and pricing for the afternoon teas and dinners here and here.
According to the Butler’s Guild, “The butler is the chief servant of the household. He or she supervises other employees, receives guests and directs the serving of meals. Along with these responsibilities, today’s butlers often also act as Personal Assistants. They travel with their employers around the world, take care of agendas, do bookkeeping and much more.
The butler title originally applied to the person who had charge of the wine cellar and dispensed liquors. The name is derived from Middle English bottler and from the old French word bouteillier, meaning “bottle bearer.'”
The International Guild of Professional Butlers adds that, a butler typically oversees the household staff usually of one residence. The many nuances of their role include the need to : understand concepts like being anticipatory, friendly not familiar, privacy and confidentiality, invisible and available. They answer the residence phone, receive guests at the door and supervise the reception of visitors. They assist with staff training and organize the duties and schedule of domestic staff. Household budgets and inventory of supplies are in their domain.
They may schedule and oversee vendors of contracted services and/or assist with household and family security measures. Family packing and travel preparations are expected of them. They must understand social etiquette and formal service. Planning and organizing parties and events in the home is expected.
They oversee and participate in proper table settings and entertainment prep. They serve meals and drinks and performs wait services related thereto. They are knowledgeable about wines and spirits and oversee the wine cellar and liqueur inventory. They may also serve as personal valet to the household and/or gentleman of the house and perform light housekeeping duties. They coordinate with other staff as needed as well as with other parts of the employer’s organization.
Other functions and skills may include: Cleaning and maintenance, care of clothing, care of fine china, silver, crystal, care and inventory of artwork and antiques, maintenance of automobiles, security of their employer and residence, co-ordination and scheduling of service contractors. The role is very similar to that of an Estate Manager.
It’s easy to see that far from being a quaint and antiquated position, in today’s fast paced world, the role of the butler is as pertinent as ever. Actually, when I look at the list of duties, I think I AM THE BUTLER for my family!
It makes me wonder what more I could do to serve life if I had such professional assistance on the home front. But, I digress. Back to Andrew Holmes. I had the chance for a little Q&A with him.
Why did you become a butler? “I had a passion to become one, loved the idea of being one, was influenced by movies like Remains of the Day, and I always loved the idea of protocol and etiquette. I was also encouraged to become a butler by a very good friend that was a butler, and said that I would make an excellent candidate.”
Are you retired as a butler? Semi-retired, I could return to private service as I choose.
As you can see, in the photos above, the food was well-executed. Chef Haas-Jack and her team gave the wholesome, nutritious Alberta ingredients a light treatment and let the flavours tell the story of the taste of this place. Plating and service were impeccable under the direction of the butler-in-the-house, Andrew Holmes. Lighting was soft. A little music would have been nice but conversations flowed in its place.
Worth the drive?
Absolutely! If you can’t go without alcohol for dinner, try out the afternoon teas planned for the season. If you are a culinary adventurer, take this short road trip along the famous Cowboy Trail (north of Cochrane and south of Sundre), discover another side of Alberta, imbibe in intense creativity, authentic farm to table food, elegant arrangements and let the butler take care of all the details.