Brian Betsworth once made his living as an audio-visual technician, setting up special event equipment at some of the city’s most well-appointed residences.
Today, Betsworth is instead learning how to run those homes as a student at the Charles MacPherson Academy for Butlers and Household Managers.
Betsworth and a handful of other classmates are spending eight intensive weeks at the Toronto academy under the tutelage of world-renowned butler Charles MacPherson, former butler to the George Eaton family, and other experienced instructors.
In the classroom, students practise everything from setting the perfect table with Limoges dinnerware, to private aircraft management, to cleaning luxury surfaces with natural products.
“Every day there is something really new and fascinating,” says Betsworth, who is in his sixth week of the course. “But the great thing that we learn from Day 1 is that there are three things a butler needs to do: Make the bed, clean the toilet, and serve meals. That for me really says it all. I would love to be that person.”
Betsworth couldn’t be happier with his career transition. He even insists being a butler isn’t that different from his old audio-visual job.
“A lot of what we do is very precision-exacting work, tailored to the client’s needs with confidentiality, discernment and a truly service-oriented approach,” he said. “To me, household management is directly linked with that.”
Paul Bocchini, a graduate of the academy’s inaugural class of 2008, is now working as a butler/house manager for a family in the Greater Toronto Area.
“It was so hands-on. Things I had read about other schools were much more classroom-oriented,” he said. “We even worked at homes in Rosedale.”
Bocchini was also established in his career — as a webmaster for the Canadian Medical Association — before enrolling at the academy. After watching a TV documentary on the Queen, he discovered that being a butler was his dream job.
“I realized I was born a butler,” said Bocchini. “I just didn’t know it.”
Bonnie Aprile, who teaches housekeeping, household management and wardrobe maintenance at the academy, says it’s common for the program to attract many already-developed professionals looking for a career change.
“Everyone that I’ve come across in the class is highly intelligent, well-schooled, with patience and an eye for detail,” she said, adding many existing butlers also enrol in individual classes to refresh their skills.
As for her own career in household management, Aprile says it has been an incredible journey.
“It offers you a chance at a lifestyle that you would never have experienced. There are celebrities, designers, that I would have never met. For me that is unforgettable,” she said. “Behind the scenes, there is a lot of hard work. But somehow I always felt I was part of the festivities.”
Correction: A previous version of this story used an incorrect spelling of Bonnie Aprile's name. Metro regrets the error.