A concierge is an employee who lives on the premises and serves as a janitor and general caretaker. In medieval times, the concierge was an officer of the King who was charged with executing justice, with the help of his bailiffs. The term concierge evolved from the French Comte Des Cierge, The Keeper of the Candles, who tended to visiting nobles in castles of the medieval era.
In 19th century and early 20th century apartment buildings, particularly in Paris, the concierge, often a middle-aged woman, had a small apartment on the ground floor and was able to monitor all comings and goings. However, such settings are now extremely rare; most concierges in small or middle-sized buildings have been replaced by the part-time services of janitors. These are less costly and less intrusive.
Some larger apartment buildings or groups of buildings retain the use of a concierge, without the traditional disposition whereas the concierge saw all comings and goings. The concierge may, for instance, keep the mail of absented dwellers; be entrusted with the keys of apartments in cases of emergencies in the absence of the inhabitant; and other services. In hotels and certain other facilities, a concierge assists guests with various tasks like finding taxicabs, restaurants, and interesting places to visit. In upscale establishments, a concierge is often expected to "achieve the impossible", dealing with any request a guest may have, no matter how apocryphal or strange, relying on an extensive list of personal contacts with various local merchants and service providers. Additionally there are private concierge service companies, that cater to individuals or organizations and provide a whole range of services. Typically provided services include travel arrangement, event planning, vacation planning, homewatch management and errand services to name a few.
These independent concierges generally charge a fee on top of the cost of the service, to cover their time and expenses. The owners and operators of concierge and errand service businesses are supported and advocated by the non-profit International Concierge and Errand Association and the National Concierge Association. These associations serve their members through essential resources, continuing education, networking opportunities and other professional endeavors. Hotel concierge staffs in the US have their own professional association, Les Clefs d'Or.
Members can be distinguished by the gold keys they display on their lapels. Bathroom attendants are workers stationed in a bathroom that provide tap water, soap, towels and an assortment of toiletries. They are a relatively recent phenomenon. Previously confined to extravagant restaurants or bars, bathroom attendants have begun to creep into mainstream society and can be found in moderately priced bars across metropolitan cities. It is often the case that these bathroom attendants can seem presumptuous, pressuring clientele to accept a spray of aftershave or an array of personal grooming services, in exchange for a tip. It is thought by some that such services apply implied pressure to offer financial reward for a fairly limited service, and as such have seen the discussion of social etiquette in such situations.
Chef is a term commonly used to refer to an individual who cooks professionally. Within a restaurant however, chef (French for chief or head) is often only used to refer to one person: the one in charge of everyone else in the kitchen. This is usually the Executive Chef. There are many kinds of kitchen organizations, with the titles and duties for each position varying depending on the particular restaurant. In general, the hierarchy in a classical kitchen brigade is as follows: The Chef de Cuisine's placement within the kitchen can vary depending on the individual restaurants hierarchy setup.
Generally, it is either equivalent to an Executive Chef position, or a position equivalent to a Sous Chef, under the command of an Executive Sous Chef. The sous chef (pronounced "soo-shef" French for "under chef") is the direct assistant of the Executive Chef. The Sous Chef often shares some duties with the executive chef, such as menu planning, costing and ordering. Larger kitchens often have more than one sous chef, with each covering a certain shift or having his or her own area of responsibility, such as the banquet sous chef, in charge of all banquets, or the executive sous chef, in charge of all other sous chefs. Generally done by the sous chef, the expediter serves as the liaison between the customers in the dining room and the line cooks. With the help of proper coordination and timing, they make sure that the food gets to the wait staff in a timely fashion, so that everyone sitting at a particular table is served simultaneously.
A chef de partie, also known as a "station chef" or "line cook", is in charge of a particular area of production. In large kitchens, each station chef might have several cooks and/or assistants. In most kitchens however, the station chef is the only worker in that department. Line cooks are often divided into a hierarchy of their own, starting with "First Cook", then "Second Cook", and so on as needed. In larger kitchens, each station chef would have cooks and assistants (commis) that help with the particular duties that are assigned to that area. With experience, assistants may be promoted to station cooks and then to station chefs.
A valet or gentleman's gentleman is a gentleman's male servant. The valet performs personal services such as maintaining his employer's clothes, running his bath and perhaps (especially in the past) shaving his employer. In a great house the master of the house had his own valet, in the grandest the same would go for other adult members of the employing family (e.
g. master's sons), at a court even minor princes and high officials may be assigned one, but in a smaller household the butler (the majordomo in charge of the household staff) might have to double as his employer's valet. In a bachelor's household the valet might perform light housekeeping duties as well.
Valets, like butlers and most specialized domestic staff, have become relatively rare, and a more common, though still infrequent, arrangement is the general servant performing combined roles. Traditionally, valets did much more than merely lay out clothes and take care of personal items. He was also responsible for making travel arrangements, dealing with any bills and handling all money matters concerning his master or his master's household.
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