How to serve Prince Charles as new restaurant training course lifts lid on Royal hospitality


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

Or perhaps you are considering a change in career to step into the world of hospitality?

Then a free six-week training course offering front-of-house and kitchen skills — including butler service, bar license training, barista training, housekeeping, food hygiene, and basic food preparation — could be just what you’re looking for.

The Prince’s Foundation is encouraging applications to ‘Introduction To Hospitality’, which will run 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 older and includes a one-week industry work placement and visits to local employers.

And those who successfully complete it will be awarded a City and Guilds Level 1 Award in Introduction to the Hospitality Industry.



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Ayrshire Live reporter Abi Smillie was put to work as she got a taster of what to expect from the course before the deadline for applications closes on Monday, May 2.

Here’s how she got on:

I was pretty nervous when Dumfries House hospitality manager Evan Samson gave me a run-down of what I’d be undertaking when I arrived at the estate’s Woodland Restaurant for a taster session.

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

It’s been years since I’ve worked in hospitality, and even longer since I’ve attempted to make a barista-style coffee (concentrating hard on reducing the milk screeching and always forgoing the fancy leaf work because that was beyond my skills).

But I needn’t have worried as each step was explained thoroughly, putting me at ease and making me feel confident enough to give it a go.



Abi watches a cooking demonstration from executive chef Tom Scoble
Abi watches a cooking demonstration from executive chef Tom Scoble

First up was the kitchen where I popped on an apron and joined executive chef Tom Scoble who took me through how to whip up a chicken fricassee — a classic French dish, served with vegetables in a white sauce.

Tom, who worked in London, France and on billionaires’ 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 off the prepared chicken
Abi and Tom show off the prepared chicken

My usual chicken preparation is chucking the supermarket-bought-already-diced pieces into a pan, so chopping up a full chicken was certainly new to me.

I didn’t realize how cost effective preparing a whole chicken was, as Tom took me through how each piece of meat could be used in different dishes and frozen to limit food waste, something Dumfries House are enthusiastic about.

Chopping up the veg was next on the list, utilizing vegetables grown in the grounds on the estate, again reinforcing Dumfries Houses’ commitment to being as sustainable as possible.



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

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

Nicole, from Auchinleck, took me through the warming of the milk — all supplied from local dairy farm Mossgiel — using the correct technique to reduce the uncomfortable screech I was always prone to.



Abi pictured with coffee supervisor Nicole Bunten
Abi pictured with coffee supervisor Nicole Bunten

She explained that students on the course will learn 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 has worked at Dumfries House for seven years and has served HRH Prince Charles, who saved the estate for the nation to enjoy after purchasing the House in 2007.

Evan took me through how to set a table for events using the correct cutlery and glassware, and how the front of house staff serve tables in a uniformed fashion, something students will execute in front of guests at a special dinner at the end of the course .

He also took me through how to serve Royalty, including offering gravy on a fine silver platter to HRH Prince Charles.

Evan said: “It’s a unique service that dates back 200-300 years and it’s the way the Monarch’s always been served.

“Occasionally we do events in the House where we try and replicate it for customers to let them see what it’s about.”



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

I walked away from the taster session armed with some skills for life — and if that’s what can be achieved in three hours, imagine what can be accomplished in six weeks!

• Taster sessions for the course take place on May 5 and May 10. For more info or to receive an application form, email Evan at: [email protected]

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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