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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Sommelier Identity Crisis

I had an identity crisis early this year. For so many years I had worked in restaurants and was known to friends and family as a sommelier. Then, I decided I wanted to learn more about the LCBO and took a job with a wine agency. It was a tremendous learning experience and I saw first hand just how inefficient the LCBO is and how hard it is to get wine into the province. It takes a great deal of hard work from truly passionate people to get wines through all the red tape. Not to mention the delivery guys that have to wait in the cold and rain at the board before having to bring the wine to a restaurant. In this market, they are the unsung heroes. But I wanted to get back. I had put down my corkscrew. I was not using the skill set and doing the things that I identified with as being a sommelier. When I was introduced to people and was called a sommelier, I felt fake, like I should turn in my pin. At home, I even stopped drinking from my tastevin. Above all, I was not working in a restaurant. I […]

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Presto Card needs work

Fuck off Monday. And figure yourself out Presto Card! There are still many problem that need to be sorted out before the Presto Card can be fully functional. The Card is teasing us with what it could be. It needs work, and quick. There is no app for the Presto Card so I am forced to log in online. The process is safe and secure but also arduous and time consuming. Having to do so through a browser on my phone would be even more frustrating. The machines where I can load a card are scarce and often broken. Take the one at the Bloor and Spadina station on a Monday at 6pm. Please take it. And fix the fucking thing! Trying to load my Presto Card at the TTC station is often not possible as they are different businesses. The machines on a streetcar are simply useless as they only take payment. They can’t reload my Presto Card, forcing me to do so online. What’s the point of having a new fleet of streetcars if they are not fully ready for service? Why can’t I pay through an app? One that would also allow me to check transit times. […]

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Why I cycle

Last week was 16 degrees celsius This week it was minus 26 with the wind chill. Considering I live in Toronto, and it is the middle of February, this week’s temperature is much more in line with how things should be. When people ask me if I’m cold, I say no. Which is normally the truth. Generally I’m very warm. It’s my fingers and toes that make a liar out of me. Yet I cycle to work. Every day. I cycle because I work in a location that is not easily accessible by public transit, the TTC. You would think that working in an office on a major street would prove to be easy to get to, but it’s not. Should I want to take public transit, the trip goes something like this. I walk 5 mins to get to the nearest transit stop. Then wait another 5 mins or more for the streetcar to arrive. When I board the streetcar it takes about 20 mins to where I need to get off. That is already more than the length of time it takes me to ride my bike to work. And once I am off the street car, I […]

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