Staff Meal Follow up

Now that 2016 is in the books, the naive idealist in me wants to believe that all the hard work the hospitality industry has done over the holidays will be rewarded by management and owners. I’d like to think that the flus and colds that made the long hours ever longer, have settled down and everyone is ready for a new year and the challenges it will bring. Sometimes it is hard to recall the passion that got us all in the restaurant game in the first place, and it is never harder than it is during the holidays. After many years of working in Whistler, the holidays took on a totally new meaning for me. It was the time put your head down and get shit done. Almost everyone I worked with didn’t have family close and the long hours cemented our relationships. But it was during our staff meals that we all truly got to know each other.Since I inquired about who eats what during staff meal, I was overwhelmed and grateful for all who responded. Thank you. And for all the front of house people I asked when I went out to different restaurants, thank you.What did […]

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Staff Meals

There is evidence to suggest that happy staff will treat their guests well. And studies, like this one, say restaurant guests are willing to pay more when they are treated better. Of course there are many ways to keep staff happy, but a simple way is to feed them well. That’s right: staff meal. It shows respect and makes staff feel appreciated. But with margins razor slim in most restaurants, often there isn’t a staff meal. In most places staff meal is a luxury. For the restaurants that do provide a staff meal, it is often made from whatever is in the back of the walk-in. Pureed hot-dogs anyone? Stale bread and cold cuts? That won’t sustain a hungry army for the long service ahead. Staff meal can be a time for everyone to get to know each other and help bring a team together. There is long service ahead and the stress is going to be high, it is important to take 15 minutes to sit down and eat to help nourish the body. We all spend a great deal of time being “on” and the pressure of a busy restaurant is not a place for an empty stomach. […]

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Gaia Gaja in Toronto

Gaia Gaja is Angelo Gaja’s daughter and the fourth generation in the family to become the face of the Gaja wines. She was in Toronto recently speaking about what has been taking place in the vineyards and how this is affecting the quality of wines.Gaia spoke about the social changes happening in the vineyards of Italy. Over the last 20 years, fewer Italians are working the vines, as there are many other opportunities for young people. These days many Eastern Europeans living and working in Italy are growing the indigenous grape varieties. By having to train new workers, the team has been forced to look more closely at what is happening in the vineyards. The biggest change is the climate and its unpredictable affects. Seasonal diseases are happening at different times, pests are coming at different times and the team is looking at making the vines in the area naturally more resilient. As the earth becomes warmer and drier so does the soil where the vines are grown. Like most farmers they are looking at ways to combat this threat and one solution they have found effective is grass. In some vineyards the grass grows very long and instead of […]

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Restaurant as a band

I love music. I love the layers, the textures, the sounds. Not to mention the beats and rhythm. There are many great bands out there. All working hard to make a living and get some sort of recognition. Whatever that may be to them. It is passion that fuels their fire and keeps them moving. Often in the back of a van across a country. Giving everything they have. Every night. On stage. A restaurant is very similar. Minus the van of course. Each night a cast and crew put on a show. None are more important than each other. There may be higher profile roles, there may be charismatic people that might get your attention but, without the full support of all involved, everything falls down. Ringo Star was the drummer that the Beatles needed because he was no complainer to the group as a whole. He could have showboated his way through the haze of the 60’s and 70’s but instead he complimented John and Paul into rhythm perpetuity. He provided the prefect beat at the right time and was just as important to the band as the rest. John Entwistle played bass like a boss. When everyone […]

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Why I decant wine

As a sommelier at George Restaurant, if I had my way, I would decant every single wine I open. During dinner service I don’t have the luxury of time for a wine to unwind and open itself. Popping the cork and pouring the wines doesn’t do anyone any favors. Not the winemaker who spent an entire season growing the grapes and (often longer) transforming them into wine. Nor the dining guest who ordered a wine and will only fully enjoy the wine on those final sips, once it has properly opened up. As a sommelier I need to acknowledge both parties; I am the midwife to the winemaker and purveyor of goods to the guest. I have to make sure that my guest is given a wine that they can objectively make their own opinion about. But, there are few occasions when someone calls us hours before their reservation and asks for a wine to be decanted. Imagine being on a long haul flight, in the back of the plane. You may have been excited about the trip and full of energy when you boarded, but once you land that vibrato is gone. You may find yourself in a strange land […]

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Writings about my passion for wine, and the people, places, and stories connected to it.