How to serve Prince Charles as new catering training course lifts the lid on royal hospitality

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to serve royalty?

Or are you considering a career change to enter the hospitality world?

Then, a free six-week training course offering reception and kitchen skills – including butler service, bar license training, barista training, housekeeping, food hygiene and preparation staple foods – might be just what you’re looking for.

The Prince’s Foundation is encouraging applications for ‘Introduction To Hospitality’, which runs from May 16 to June 24 and is based primarily at Dumfries House, near Cumnock.

The program is open to adults living in Ayrshire aged 18 and over and includes a week-long work placement in industry and visits to local employers.

And those who successfully complete it will receive a level 1 award from the city and guilds in introduction to the hospitality industry.

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Ayrshire Live reporter Abi Smillie was put to work as she got a taste of what to expect from the course before applications close on Monday May 2.

Here’s how she pulled it off:

I was quite nervous when Dumfries House Hospitality Manager Evan Samson gave me an overview of what I was about to undertake when I arrived at the estate’s Woodland restaurant for a tasting session.

Butler service, barista training, and cooking a fancy chicken dish I’d never heard of were all on the agenda during the three hours I was there.

It’s been years since I’ve worked in the hospitality industry, and even longer since I’ve tried to make a barista-style cafe (focusing hard on reducing milk squeaks and still giving up work fancy sheets because it was beyond my skills).

But I needn’t have worried as each step was explained in detail, which put me at ease and made me feel confident enough to give it a go.

Abi watches a cooking demo from Executive Chef Tom Scoble
Abi watches a cooking demo from Executive Chef Tom Scoble

The first stop was the kitchen where I hopped on an apron and joined Executive Chef Tom Scoble who walked me through how to make chicken fricassee – a classic French dish, served with vegetables in a white sauce.

Tom, who worked in London, France and on billionaire superyachts before moving to Dumfries House eight years ago, first showed me how to sharpen a knife before preparing a whole chicken.

Abi and Tom show the prepared chicken
Abi and Tom show the prepared chicken

My usual prep for chicken involves throwing the already-diced supermarket-bought pieces into a pan, so chopping up a whole chicken was certainly new to me.

I hadn’t realized how cost-effective preparing a whole chicken was, as Tom explained to me how each piece of meat could be used in different dishes and frozen to limit food waste, which Dumfries House is excited about.

Chop Vegetables was next on the list, using vegetables grown on estate land, again reinforcing Dumfries Houses’ commitment to being as sustainable as possible.

Abi shows the finished chicken fricassee
Abi shows the finished chicken fricassee

As Tom finished the recipe (which the students will serve to the public), I moved on to barista training from Coach House Café supervisor Nicole Bunten.

Nicole, from Auchinleck, walked me through warming the milk – all provided by local Mossgiel dairy farm – using the right technique to reduce the uncomfortable crying I was always prone to.

Abi pictured with cafe supervisor Nicole Bunten
Abi pictured with cafe supervisor Nicole Bunten

She explained that students on the course will learn about different types of coffee drinks and the methods used to create them, as well as where the coffee beans come from.

Last on the agenda was butler service with Evan, who worked at Dumfries House for seven years and served HRH Prince Charles, who saved the estate for the nation to enjoy after buying the house in 2007.

Evan walked me through how to set a table for events using the proper cutlery and glassware, and how the venue staff serve the tables in uniform, what the students will perform in front of guests at a special dinner party at the end of the course. .

He also taught me how to serve royalty, including offering gravy on a fine silver platter to HRH Prince Charles.

Evan said: “It’s a unique service that goes back 200-300 years and that’s how the Monarch has always been served.

“Once in a while we have in-house events where we try to replicate it so customers can see what it’s all about.”

Abi serves Evan Samson, hospitality manager at Dumfries House
Abi serves Evan Samson, hospitality manager at Dumfries House

I came out of the initiation session armed with some life skills – and if that’s what can be accomplished in three hours, imagine what can be accomplished in six weeks!

• Course initiation sessions take place on May 5th and 10th. For more information or to receive an application form, email Evan at: [email protected]

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Evelyn C. Tobin