Agence France Presse
Published — Friday 9 November 2012
Last update 9 November 2012 7:45 am
TOKYO: An international competition to find the best maitre d’ in the world was under way in Tokyo yesterday.
Contestants from 14 different countries were being tested on everything from serviette etiquette to their knowledge of which wine works best with a chef’s speciality dish.
A professional jury will be awarding points in nine categories of service as it looks for the winner of the Georges Baptiste Cup among the 24 entrants.
The competition will pick two winners: one student and one professional, who will show a combination of waiting and butlering skills.
Swiss hopeful Amritpal Warraich, 20, said there is so much more to being a maitre d’ than meets the eye.
“A good butler is one who knows what the guests want before they do,” he said. “He is there not only to help but also to make them comfortable.”
Warraich said he was confident in dealing with customers, even in a foreign language, but admitted: “I am not very good with wines.”
Shin Miyazaki, 35, who works at Château Restaurant Joel Robuchon in Tokyo said his
trade was little appreciated in Japan, despite a widespread understanding of the importance of sommeliers and chefs.
“A good maitre d’ will put the client at ease and will make him appreciate even more the dishes prepared by the chef,” he said.
The Georges Baptiste Cup was established in France in 1961 in honor of the chef and butler of the same name.
It expanded to include European entrants three decades later and in 2000 went global when it was held in Canada. Subsequent editions were held in France, Mexico and Vietnam.