Category: Private Household Staff

Recruiting private domestic staff during the Pandemic

Can I hire housekeepers during Covid? The simple answer is yes! The Government has advised as of 4th January 2021 that “where it is necessary for you to work in other people’s homes – for example, for nannies, cleaners or tradespeople – you can do so“.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the team at SILKS have implemented a number of precautions in order to minimise risk for both our clients and their staff. Instead of meeting with new clients and candidates, all meetings are taken place across Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp call or other suitable video call service. The initial interviews between clients and candidates will also take place via video call to avoid unnecessary movement between homes.

We are encouraging our clients and candidates to communicate expectations prior to arrival. This is to ensure any extra social distancing and hygiene measures are followed precisely. As standard, candidates will be briefed as follows:

  • Face masks must be worn and social distancing rules must be maintained at all times
  • Hands must be washed upon arrival of the property
  • If any candidates are feeling unwell, or are showing any signs of Covid, then they must not attend any interviews, trials or work
  • Where possible, staff should open windows to ventilate rooms where they are working

We request that clients notify SILKS if there is anyone within the household who is isolating or if there individuals are shielding. In these circumstances, we would not send any candidates to the property for interviews, trials or to commence a new placement.

For more information, please view the government guidelines here. Or please contact SILKS to discuss hiring housekeepers during Covid.



A Conversation with Jorge Baumhauer da Silva

Jorge Baumhauer da Silva is a private chef that SILKS placed with a UHNW family in 2020. We caught up with Jorge to discuss his background and inspiration throughout his career.

When did you realise that you wanted to be a chef?

The realisation of wanting to be part of the hospitality industry came when I was a teenager. I loved to help my sisters place the table and decorate the dishes after attending church on a Sunday. It was also during this time that I realised I needed to understand cooking as the menus were very repetitive and at times boring.

Did you have formal training?

I did indeed, I attended catering school back in the 80’s in my home country, Brazil, and in the 2000’s when I moved the UK. It was a way to have a European certification, but to also learn new trends.

How did your professional career as a chef begin?

I spent three years in the army back home, and during my second year I was sent to the kitchen to help the chefs with basic tasks around a very busy kitchen. I guess I wasn’t very good in the infantry, but little they did I know that my passion for food had just begun.

Once I left the army, I went to catering college to get a qualification whilst working as a commis chef in the only five-star hotel in town. From there I continued to learn my craft.

What’s the difference between a private chef and a restaurant chef?

That’s a very interesting question! I have been working for years as a restaurant chef, as part of a team, head chef, offering restaurant consultant, and now as a private chef for a young and dynamic family, so I can also share some insights.

At a restaurant, a chef will normally execute someone’s menu (the menus are usually created by the sous chefs or head chefs) with little or none impute, it is a routine of food production for the amount of people booked for each service or for the hours that the restaurant remains open.

So, once the “mis-en-place” for the menu is ready the work is repetitive and the only variants to the food will be in order to accommodate client’s dietaries needs.

A private chef on the other hand cooks for the same “clients” three times a day, the chef needs to cover any corner of the “kitchen” from pastry, baking, bread and pasta making etc. The menus have to cover an array of cuisines, ranging from simple soups to a four course fine dinner, canape parties or tea party with all the trimmings.

A private chef has to be flexible and adaptable with drastically last minutes “changes of plans”, being able to take decision and prioritise tasks. This can often mean shift patterns of fourteen hours or more.

How would you describe your culinary style?

That is a difficult question to put a label on! At present I can only say that my style is that I am “tune” with the now, real food, with a good hint of traditional base but with an eye wide open to the new! I offer a cuisine without boarders or nationality.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Cooking for members of the English Royal family. It has also been a highlight to visit and live in many countries I whist working within the profession I love.

What is your favourite dish to cook? And to eat?

As a chef, I can never possibly narrow my favourite to one dish! I have several favourites ranging from many cuisines, but it all depended on who you are with and the setting!

Do you eat out often, and what are your favourite restaurants that you would recommend?

I love eating as much as I love cooking, so the answers is YES. Here are some of my favourites to name a few:

London: PalomarChotto Matte, St Clair, The Ledbury, Cornerstone, Dozo

South Africa: Chefs warehouse Beau Constantia, Babel Restaurant 

Peru: Nanka

Is the trend to engage a private chef rising because of Covid-19?

Mostly definitely it did, since lots of chef lost their jobs as restaurants have to close their doors.

Who is your favourite chef? And which countries influence your style of cooking the most?

I have few favourite chefs that I admire their work and the food they create, among many are:

My father, for been the most admirable amateur cook I ever knew, for his fantastic curiosity to try new dishes, respect for natural grown produces.

Anthony Bourdain, Thomas Keller, Julia Child, Jeremy Lee, Asma Khan, Yotam Ottolengui, Gary Rhodes, Rick Stein, Thomasina Miers and Raymond Blanc.

As for which countries influence my cooking, I would say would the whole world is an influence to me…I am a private chef, I have to be able to be cook any cuisine!

To view the work of Jorge Baumhauer da Silva work, please click here.

Or if you would like to discuss hiring a private chef, please contact us – | 01372 469378.




Running your home this Christmas

The festive season can be an incredibly stressful time, but with the support of private household staff at Christmas, it really can be the most magical time to spend with family and loved ones.

Can I recruit private staff during lockdown?

Although we are in lockdown, the government has advised that the restrictions will expire on the 2nd December 2020. However, many of our clients are asking us to source additional domestic staff to help support their teams to prepare for Christmas. At SILKS, we are following all safety procedures in order to safeguard the health of our clients and staff. We ensure that staff members are proven to test negative for Covid, and they have isolated before being placed in a new role.

Scheduling time off

Many Housekeepers and private staff will look to take a break over the Christmas holidays. If a principle calls upon their staff to work on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, many will offer a bonus for doing so. Alternatively, some principles may offer time off when the festivities are over.

We recommend talking to all household staff well in advance to manage expectations. Planning the staff rota system will ensure that you have enough staff to enable the household to run smoothly.

Do I have to buy my staff gifts at Christmas?

Domestic staff do like to feel a part of the family and Christmas is a perfect time to demonstrate this. So a small gift or performance related bonus will be gratefully received.

Please contact SILKS if you would like to secure additional private household staff this Christmas.

The Perfect Partnership

At SILKS, we understand the challenges that you may face when recruiting private household staff. We pride ourselves on truly understanding our clients needs in order to deliver the perfect partnership. Through our vast network of connections, we can place all types of private household staff. So whether you are seeking a housekeeper, butler, executive assistant, chauffeur or estate manager, SILKS can be of service.

Formerly known as Surrey Housekeepers, we have amassed over 10 years experience working with loyal clients. We have worked with a range of clients across all walks of life from celebrities, sports personalities to FTSE 100 members.

SILKS will take pride to truly understand the brief and will provide an effective and lasting solution. We will only select candidates who we truly believe will be with our clients for the long term. As standard, we meet with every candidate, thoroughly check references and ensure they would be a good fit. And to give our clients peace of mind, we offer a one month probation period.

We can help you source staff wherever you are in the UK. However, our core client base is in Surrey and London and where our repeat business is testament to our success.

If you would like to discuss our process for recruiting private household staff, then please get in touch with a member of the team today.

Introducing SILKS Luxury Lifestyle Specialists

Surrey Housekeepers was established in 2010 by Amanda Cooper and Alison O’Neill. For over 10 years, the team  placed private household staff predominantly throughout Surrey and London. Surrey Housekeepers built long lasting professional relationships with the vast majority of UNHW and HNW clients through their expertise and high standards.

Surrey Housekeepers recently rebranded to SILKS – Luxury Lifestyle Specialists. At SILKS, we are proud to offer the same level of service when recruiting private domestic staff, but we are excited to offer further services to our clients.

Intimate Events

In our new ‘normal’ of Covid-19, hosting events at home could be the perfect way to celebrate without the difficulties hiring a venue now presents. Together we can make your house or garden the perfect location and ensure your plans adhere to the latest guidelines. SILKS can bring your vision to life and ensure that you can still create wonderful memories and celebrate with loved ones throughout this period of uncertainty.


At SILKS, we have partnered with hand picked premium travel partners, who are not only able to offer our clients the most unforgettable holidays, but with the maximum levels of safety and luxury. To read more about our travel services, please click here.

We are proud to say that we are still the go to agency for recruiting household staff in Surrey, and very popular amongst our local clients in Esher, Weybridge, Oxshott, Cobham and surrounding areas. The global pandemic has encouraged our clients to re-evaluate their current household staff requirements and at SILKS, we can advise you on what staff your home would require.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss your household staff needs.

Silks have lifted restrictions on recruiting

We are delighted to announce that we will carefully recruit private household staff once again as the world slowly and cautiously emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic. We have reviewed the government guidelines at length, and we will ensure that we are taking the necessary steps to safeguard the health of our clients and their employees.

Over the upcoming months, we will insist on following the astute guidelines below to maintain the wellbeing of all parties:

  • Video conference facilities such as Zoom and Skype will be invaluable for the interviewing process
  • Candidates will wash their hands on arrival and maintain a 2 metre distance from all household members
  • Where possible, staff should open windows to ventilate rooms where they are working
  • No work should be carried out if staff are showing signs of feeling unwell and displaying symptoms of the Coronavirus; a high temperature, a new or continuous cough and a loss or change to your sense and smell. And this also applies to the household staff; please don’t employ staff if you are feeling unwell
  • If anyone in a household are isolating or individuals are shielding, then no work should take place

We ask you to please use your judgement. If you’re not well, don’t put yourself or others at risk.

If you are looking to recruit private household staff, please contact us and a member of our team will be in touch to discuss your requirements.

Recruitment during Covid-19

As the world continues to change daily in relation to Covid-19 we wanted to reassure you how business is changing in the recruitment industry.  The UK government guidelines are now for social limiting, including meetings and gatherings, and socializing with people outside of your family.  This has had as I’m sure you can imagine a huge knock-on effect with recruitment. 

Although our candidates who are looking for work, are very happy to interview with you over video calls, it would be inappropriate for us to allow meetings to occur.

Therefore, in light of recent UK government guidelines, and to ensure the health and well being of all our candidates and clients, we are going to be putting a hold on recruitment.  

In the meantime, if you have any questions at all, we can be reached via email – although we will be working reduced hours so please do bear with us if you can’t reach us straight away.

We will be pursuing recruitment in full force once the government advises us it is safe to do so, and we would love to help you with a new job.  In the meantime, please stay safe and we look forward to hearing from you in the hopefully not too distant future.

A guide to domestic staff

Private Domestic Staff

Domestic staff play an important role in maintaining the smooth running of private households. We work with each client to truly understand their needs and requirements which enables us to place the perfect employees for your home.

What’s the difference between domestic staff and housekeepers?

‘Domestic staff’ is the broad term which encompass all staff that are employed by a residential home. Housekeepers will fall into this category as they are a type of domestic worker.

How many members of domestic staff do I need?

It really is dependent on your lifestyle and the size of your house or estate. We can work with you to guide you on the number of private staff members that you may need. We place all types of domestic workers: Butlers, Chauffeurs, Private Chefs, House Manager, Housekeepers, Domestic Couples and Groundsmen.

Some clients express a need for domestic workers to live in, others prefer for staff to live out. Sometimes it is possible to consolidate several tasks with a ‘Domestic Couple’. The duo would be able to cover a full range of roles, both inside and outside the home.

How do I manage domestic employees? 

Our luxury domestic employees are fully trained and will have a wide range of experience working for clients in private homes.  However, each client has different expectations, so ensure that you walk through your home with the staff member on day one and fully explain what you require from them. To create a smooth working relationship, make sure that the brief is fully understood. 

How should I treat domestic staff?

Sometimes domestic workers often become an extension of your family, so we encourage you to treat any employee with the utmost respect.

How do I recruit domestic staff?

At AJA Partnership, we recruit the highest quality of domestic employees. We ensure that references and checks have been made so that you have complete peace of mind, and recruiting is a stress free process. Please contact us today and we will be happy to help you find the perfect candidate for your home.

How to host a virtual interview

Luxury marble desk with laptop, great space to conduct virtual interviews
Image credit – Roses Interior

Virtual interviews are an excellent way in which we can recruit for domestic and household staff in these current times of self-isolation and social distancing. We have put together a short guide which could useful for both interviewer and interviewees.


It’s important that the time and date has been properly scheduled and communicated to both parties. And if you have any queries, please check details ahead of time to make sure that the call runs smoothly, and it will avoid any unnecessary rescheduling.

Most virtual interviews will take place using Skype, WhatsApp video call, Zoom or Facetime; so it is vital that both parties check that they have an account to the relevant software. The log in details and passwords should be easily accessible so that you can log in promptly when the call is due to commence.

The Basics

Make sure that you have a fully charged battery to minimise any disruption during the interview.

We advise that you find a quiet space to conduct the call so that any unnecessary background noise is kept to a minimum.

Make sure that you are sitting still and facing the camera and find somewhere suitable to rest your laptop/mobile so that there is limited movement. This will make the interview run smoothly and avoid any disturbance for both parties.

Try to limit multitasking whilst the video call or interview is taking place, and make sure that you are fully engaged in the conversation at all times.

Our candidates will approach the interview dressed as they would for a face to face interview. They will be well briefed on the job description and what the client is expecting from the role.

Tips for Interviewer

Be prepared and review your questions ahead of time and make sure that you are going to cover all aspects of the job role.

If you can, use the same question for all candidates so that you know that you are interviewing all candidates fairly.

Tips for Interviewee

Practice making sure that you are comfortable in front of a camera. Use a mirror to rehearse or record yourself and play the recording back. It will be easy to spot any habits that the client may find distracting.

Look at the camera and make eye contact at all times.

It would be advisable to have a glass of water to hand in case you are suffering from any stage fright!

If you are seeking your next role, please view our current vacancies here.

Domestic Couples… Domestic Bliss?

The demand for highly experienced domestic couples continues to grow as families require more for their money. Hiring a couple can be straight-forward however, getting the combined strengths from both parties is key. So what is required and what living arrangements need to be in place to ensure a long and stable relationship?

Relevant experience on both parts is vital and basic skills need to be met in the first instance. One part of the couple definitely needs to be able to drive all manner of vehicles with a clean UK or EU driving licence. The other should have meticulous standards when it comes to housekeeping. Beyond these basic requirements one counterpart would take on all the essential maintenance in the home achieving a safe environment and on hand to repair and mend when needed. The garden is a key area which will need tending; experience in this field is vital to fully reap the benefits of hiring a couple. The individual needs horticultural skills and an understanding of irrigation, planting, garden machinery and of course the aesthetics not forgetting the seasonal demands of a garden. Cooking is a valuable skill to be thoroughly embraced and enjoyed by all members of the family. High end dinner party fayre or good home cooking, whatever your requirements, ensure you trial as no one person has the same standards in the kitchen. Laundry is a vital component of the job. Every family no matter how many members generate washing and this needs to be embraced by an excellent laundress who is well versed with fabric care.

So where do your dream team live? Typically domestic couples will be a married so it would be wise to offer separate accommodation with all the expected amenities. One bedroom will suffice but a fully functioning kitchen is a must to ensure privacy on both parts is respected.

Whatever your requirements be it security, gardening, driving, cooking, pool care, maintenance, housekeeping OR childcare, it is all in a days’ work for a successful domestic couple.

Please contact us with your requirements and a member of the team will be in touch.