Long gone are the days when every well-to-do household in Britain boasted a Jeeves, author P.G. Wodehouse's fictional creation of the quintessential butler. But a new breed of "gentleman's gentleman" is on the rise in Asia - the China-trained butler.
In July, renowned 15-year-old The International Butler Academy (Tiba), based in a chateau in the town of Valkenburg in southern Holland, opened its first overseas institute in Chengdu in Sichuan province, in response to the "overwhelmingly huge" demand for servants for the country's burgeoning numbers of the super wealthy.
Tiba China's first cohort of 24 students, schooled by four Western butlers, will learn everything from the basics (like serving wine, ironing newspapers for a smudge-free read, setting tables for formal dinners) to taking on "executive manager" tasks (like running several properties, managing wine collections and liaising with gourmet suppliers).
It's all about a Downton Abbey level of service, says Tiba founder and chairman Robert Wennekes, who has served five American presidents, among other luminaries.
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