The ‘host with the most’ City Council protocol expert to retire
But Mr. Piery has loved the diversity of the job: one moment, he was dealing with blocked pipes, “the next, working on a menu for Princess Charlene of Monaco.”
Born in France, Piery was a waiter at a three-star Michelin restaurant in Vonnas, eastern France, and a banquet manager at Maxim’s de Paris in London before he and his English wife, Monica, migrated to Australia in 1991.
Piery ran restaurants like Jean Jacques by the Sea in St Kilda before an acquaintance recommended him for the Melbourne city protocol position in 1994. It fit him like a glove.
He has served under a commissioner (Kevan Gosper) and five mayors, including incumbent Cr Capp, who described Piery as “the host with the most performances, speeches and the dance floor, not necessarily in that order.” .
“Jean-Francois is the master at guiding people through complicated protocols and procedures with poise, he’s well-researched, so he always has the right thing to say in awkward moments, and he’s full of life, bringing energy to most situations, “Cr Said Capp.
Piery has learned a lot about cultural etiquette, like not showing the soles of your shoes to Indonesians; it is considered an insult.
One of Piery’s most important jobs was organizing regular Australian citizenship ceremonies and caring for mayoral insignia, including the original 18-karat gold mayor chains, valued at $ 1.2 million, some of whose emblems are date back to the 1830s.
Piery has learned a lot about City Hall. He is said to be haunted by the ghost of a janitor who died there in the 1960s. Some of his paintings, including a portrait of Tom Roberts, are worth more than $ 1.5 million.
Mr. Piery, 64, says he feels it is time to “pass the baton,” so he is retiring to play golf, walk more, fish and volunteer.
Having seen many City Hall events canceled due to COVID-19, he advises his successor to be patient.
And to focus, what he learned early on, after showing two Chinese engineers from a sister city around the city. The next day, they told him that while he had been dining with them, the engineers must be on a plane.
“My boss told me, ‘Check, check again and check a third time.’ It was very good advice, ”Piery said.
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