Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Missouri Valley College, Next Stop on Business Etiquette

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Thursday is creeping up on me and Missouri Valley College is the next place where I will be giving another Business Etiquette Dining seminar, this time for lunch. Graduating seniors in business and marketing usually sign up for the event and we get a hundred or so. I think this is my 7th or 8th year doing it for MOVAL. Afterwords, and this is my favorite thing, the wine tasting seminar. What a cool thing for the administration to do to ready the students for the real world?

Now I am not one to dive too far into the drivel of wine. But I did used to be a Maitre D' (food and beverage manager), a Chef D' Range (table side touring chef) and a Wine Sommelier (wine guru) back in the 90's. I had a closet full of tuxedo's that I would wear each night, dancing between tables at the Media Club, the touchy feely euro "Hello Mrs. Peskind, can I pull your chair out for you, snap your napkin, pour you your dry champagne, offer you a rose on a velvet pillow, and my don't you look pretty in your sequins?", press the flesh kind of thing. I was the best at it for a while. When I was on, I was on.

I learned from the best. Prior to working at the Media Club I worked at the famous St. Louis Club in Clayton in the Pierre Laclede tower, on and off for 5 or 6 years. I learned the basics of "Captain Service" and then made it my own--a choreography of service standards with sizzle. I also learned from the bazillions of pro servers who took me under their wing and made me successfull. Diane Grossenheider, to name one of the best. I am fairly certain that I nearly got fired from the St. Louis Club for getting married and forgetting to cover a shift. Lets not forget that it is the food business and it is a tad demanding.

Anyway, wine service and knowledge was an axillary "learnin" that I had to acquire and I got pretty good at it. So I leverage some of what I used to know towards the kids. They will hear me speak for the first 5 minutes, around the time that I pour the first small glass of Pinot Grigio. I will explain the bouquet, the body, the comlexities for about a minute. From then on it will be them throwing napkins at one another and me shouting to get them to shut up. This is the way it goes with wine tasting college kids, and it is so fun to get them thinking this way. I do get through the presentation. We study three whites, three reds, the distinctions of varietals and how they pair with certain types of foods. Nothing over the top. I would likely be run out of the room if I were to kill there buzz too much. I really like this "light" version of a wine tasting.

We then put them on a bus and send them back to campus, lightly lubricated and with a smidgen of education. Making them feel like they have gotten something special from their college, and they have. I am thankful that Missouri Valley College continues to embrace innovation and I am proud of the school for investing in Dr. Bonnie Humphrey, whom has become a good friend and client through the years. Private institutions don't have it easy and this school continues to prove how hard work provides results. Check out MOVAL today.

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