YOUR FAVOURITE BARTENDER: Salma Kanani

Salma Kanani | YOUR FAVOURITES | Issue 2

Who is your favourite bartender?

Nadia Dragos, she bartends at one of my locals and has great beer knowledge and takes pride in all her cocktails.

What is your favourite bartending tool?

The muddler, it’s great for releasing some tension.

What do you like better, people or drinks?

Both, they both play a vital role in paying my rent.

What is your favourite beer?

North Coast Brewing’s Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout. Every time I drink it I feel like I’m being wrapped in a warm blanket, did I mention that it’s 10%?

What is your favourite spirit and spirit brand?

Bourbon. You can pretty much always guarantee there is a bottle of Wild Turkey Bourbon at my place.

What is your go to dance move?

Apparently, I’m a big finger pointer, but I’ll never admit to it.

What is your favourite quality in a server from a bartender’s perspective?

Knowing when to not come behind the bar.

What is your favourite way to handle customer complaints?

Kill them with kindness. I’ve become very good at making upset customers feel like an asshole.

Who do you love?

Anyone who feeds me.

What is your favourite stupid customer question to respond to?

“Do you guys do birthday shots?

What is your favourite pick-up line?

“Did you fall from heaven? Because your face is pretty fucked up.”

What is your best strategy for cutting someone off?

I try to always come around the bar and speak to them calmly. It’s less embarrassing than calling them out across the bar in front of the other guests, which can tend to set them off.

What is your favourite thing to do during slow times behind the bar? (Correct answer: Read bread)

Clean, talk to to regulars and eat as much warm food as possible.

Favourite style of service, professional or casual?

Casual, I’ve always been a fan of Cheers.

Salma Kanani Byline Image

YOUR FAVOURITE BARTENDER: Chiara Fung

Chiara Fung | YOUR FAVOURITES | Issue 2

Who is your favourite bartender?

Jack McGarry from Dead Rabbit in NYC. So talented and crafts each cocktail with finesse and flair. I sat at his bar for 3 hours, I don’t remember going back to my hotel.

What is your favourite bartending tool?

I love a good mixing glass paired with a bar spoon. Whenever an order for a Manhattan comes in I get excited! I love the harmony between the mixing glass and the bar spoon.

What do you like better, people or drinks?

Being a bartender, you have to like both. But drinks don’t talk back to you.

What is your favourite beer?

Top 3: Parallel 49’s Tricycle Grapefruit Radler, Lighthouse Brewery’s Tasman Ale and R&B Brewing’s Raven Cream Ale.

Pick one: 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s or 90’s.

The 90’s. Why you ask? 2 words: Backstreet Boys!

Where do you buy your clothes for work?

Uniforms are provided, if i had a choice I’d wear Chuck Taylors, nice comfy jeans from Dish and Duer and a V-neck from Aritzia.

What is your favourite quality in a server from a bartender’s perspective?

Want to be a bartender’s favourite server? Help put away glassware from the glass washer. That’ll win my heart.

What are the most comfortable shoes to wear while bartending?

I buy the majority of my work shoes at Ecco. A bit pricy but they last a long time and are very comfortable!

What is your favourite stupid customer question to respond to?

Anytime people ask for drinks to be blended that should never be blended. Take for instance an Old Fashioned.

Favourite up-selling technique?

Tell people what they’re having. I once had two guys who sat at the bar and I straight up said “2 Crown and Cokes and 2 shots of tequila?” They agreed. Being specific and using brands helps up-sell.

Chiara Fung Byline Image

YOUR FAVOURITE BARTENDER: Dallas Hunt

Dallas Hunt | YOUR FAVOURITES | Issue 2

What is your favourite colour?

THE COLOUR OF MONEY- It allows us to bear 1 more conversation about how Bob is a tinder all star, and Sally doesn’t usually get so drunk after her “second” glass of house wine.

Who is your favourite bartender?

Kurt Teixeira, being across the bar from him gets me 2pts.  

What do you like better, people or drinks?  

I like a larger spectrum of people after a few drinks so I am going to have to go with drinks.

What do you like better, pouring beer or crafting a cocktail?

I love when people like my caesar, but let’s be real, the more time I have to banter the better my shift is going to be for all parties involved, so I choose pouring.

 

What do you order when you sit at a bar?

Tequila and soda, keep it simple,  like I wish more people did for me.

What is your go to dance move?

The CARLTON

Who do you love?

I have amazing friends, family and an amazing fiancé, but I love the girl with daddy issues, seeking validation from every boy who will talk to her. She doesn’t realize how valuable she is to a bartender, to keep men throwing money across the bar looking to score.

What is your favourite stupid customer question to respond to?

What beer do you have on tap ? We both know it doesn’t matter, you’re going to make me list them all, then order some super obscure craft beer you tried on a trip some place, then hint at how much money I am losing by not carrying it. Then I am going to pour you whatever is cheapest at the moment, likely a Kokanee…

What is your favourite pick-up line?

“Hey girl, why don’t you let me put my belly on your back and do work”
-Dale Kennith Furber — and yes, it worked

What is your favourite thing to do during slow times behind the bar? (Correct answer: Read bread)

Dance ridiculously, it usually creates a conversation of some sort with somebody.

Favourite up-selling technique?

Shame. I will make it very evident,  if they do not take me up on my up-sell, I will be unimpressed and they are failing at life. It works more often than not.

Dallas Hunt Byline Image

YOUR FAVOURITE BARTENDER: Tarquin Melnyk

Tarquin Melnyk | YOUR FAVOURITES | Issue 2

Who is your favourite bartender?

Living: Robyn Gray, Hotel Georgia   Dead: Jesus, he could make anything from scratch!

What is your favourite bartending tool?

A good multi-level Danesco jigger and I’m happy. A good sneer for troglodytes is indispensable, as well.

What do you like better, people or drinks?

I prefer people. The best advice for bartending I’ve heard, came from PDT NYC owner, Jim Meehan. He said that a true bartender, “Serves people drinks, not drinks to people.”

What is your favourite beer?

During work: PBR Free time: I love 33 Acres of Darkness

What is your favourite cocktail?

Tie: Penicillin vs. Classic Daiquiri

What is your favourite spirit and spirit brand?

(Generally: American Rye. Brand: Rittenhouse)

What is your go to dance move?

“Hasselhoff eats a cheeseburger”. It’s reckless.

Pick one: 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s or 90’s.

Am I defining a decade that I wouldn’t wish to visit for their social policies, conservatism or wars? I’m fine right here, thanks.

Where do you buy your clothes for work?

I wear a lot of Scotch & Soda.

Most important, style or comfort?

Can’t we all just get along.

What are the most comfortable shoes to wear while bartending?

Adidas FC Bayern München ZX Flux

What is your favourite way to handle customer complaints?

Prevent them from happening in the first place.

Who do you love?

I have no hate in my heart.

What is your favourite pick-up line?

If you’re hitting on me? Compliment my posture.

Tarquin Melnyk Byline Image

So You Want to be a Chef

Matt Deacon-Evans | WHAT’S NEXT | Issue 2

Matt Deacon-Evans is the Executive Chef of the Warehouse Group, a Vancouver based National restaurant group with 15 locations across Canada. He began his culinary career in Vancouver in 1999, training in some of the cities finest restaurants, continuing his training at the Pacific Institute for Culinary Arts on Granville Island. Matt opened his first restaurant in the Okanagan Valley, where he developed his personal cooking style and eventually created the concept for the Warehouse Group food program.
1- Realize this is what you are doing for a living.
This is a hard job. To excel, it will take many sacrifices to your personal life. This is a reality of the Chef life and you really need to love this in order to be prepared long term.
2- Love the idea of service
Above all else, satisfaction comes from the people we serve and that must be respected. There is no place for an off” day in hospitality when someone is paying for you to prepare their food. We are at the mercy of the whims, tastes and opinions of our guests and you need to be motivated by that challenge. We have too many people not happy about serving others within the industry, which hurts the perception of professionalism for all of us. Criticism can be your friend or enemy. Embrace it. Let the challenge motivate you.
3- Take the long road
This should take a long time. Being a head chef is a high point of your career and should represent the culmination of your journey. Mastery takes time. When training under a sushi master in Japan, you spend 3 years touching nothing but rice. The process is important;  part of it is you developing as a person, developing character, finding your culinary style and becoming a leader. Opportunities come along as you shine, but remember the process is important.  If you take a job in your early career at a lesser restaurant for more money, you risk it becoming just that, a job. Please see point 1.
4- Do your homework and ALWAYS be a student
Always learning is an important mantra for all, but so critical to the cook of all levels. I have never met a Chef who feels they have learned it all and I love that about our culture. There are so many different techniques, history, cuisines, let alone constant changes, processes, and technologies.  It is important to stay in this zone, you will never get stagnant, you will create a culture of learning in your own kitchen and will forever be challenged.
Experience If you’re in school, you must get this, for free if necessary.
Education If you have only on the job” experience, educate yourself.  Read, learn from others. 
5- Get Education & Practice
Professional cooking programs are beneficial; we have some great schools and instructors and taking the time to understand techniques and learn the foundations is an asset but it is not the same as repeating a technique in a busy kitchen 1000 times under pressure. Experience is critical. That said, the person with both is my hire. Learn & practice.  You are a professional cook.  Professionals practice their craft obsessively to be the best they can.
6- Network
This is true in any industry, but the reality is the good chefs know each other–you do well by them, they will do well by you. Finding good mentors, learning about what is happening in the world of food is important to your relevance as a professional cook.  Find out where they hang out; hang out with cooks. Think of how you compose and present yourself; remember you are a professional.
7- Do not burn bridges
This industry is a small world; keep your word; respect people. That young cook you are giving hell to today, could be reviewing your resume years in the future. That shift you no-showed” for….  Yeah,  remember how you wish to be perceived (and paid).
8- Take care of yourself
This is a long road, as young cooks we pride in going hard, how long we can go, on how little sleep. We finish late, full of adrenaline.  Our environment is full of all sorts of fun things, which we realize are eventually destructive.  Be mindful.  The better we are to ourselves, the better food we make.  It’s the truth.  Remember your friend who said they were better doing X” with a couple of drinks… habits like that are not sustainable.
9- Work for free/ don’t work for free
Experience is crucial, learn all you can, for free if necessary. This time and effort is to be respected though, know yourself, know your worth. 
10- Pick up the knife
If you can put yourself together the way you wish to be presented, are motivated by the challenges and the critiques that are a part of this job and still relish the thought of serving the best food while inspiring your younger cooks? Pick up the knife, we want you. 
Matt Deacon Evans Byline Image

Advice For Newbies

Christina Cottell | IF YOU DON’T KNOW | Issue 2

Nobody envies you.  That deer in the headlights look you have right now sends shivers down your co-workers spines.  The only person really excited you’re here is the last newb before you. S/he is so fucking happy you got hired, because they hope the new-guy bullshit just might ease off their chafed ass.
Yeah I’m really not kidding.  Welcome to your new life, kid.
But don’t despair, because we have all been in your shoes. We all have work-mares about those first shifts; dropping things, cutting ourselves, the first hangover shift.  But sadly, this rite of passage must be taken.  I offer you these suggestions to help navigate the virgin waters.
Always Be Early. Period.
The negative bitchy person who wants to be your best friend and tell you about every little thing that is fucked up will drag you down. Avoid him/her.  They’re likely getting fired as soon as you’re trained, anyway.
Don’t lie. About your mistakes, work history, availability.  It will all come out.
Don’t guess, ask.  You weren’t hired for your expertise, it’s assumed you’re a blank slate.  Asking questions is a sign of strength.  Just watch your timing.  If everyone is in the weeds, just go clean something until there’s a good time to ask.
Never run, yell or cry on the floor/line. Running makes you look out of control and can hurt someone, yelling makes you a dick, crying is pointless and won’t get you a damn thing.
Keep your drama out of the house. Nothing makes a manager more irritated than your need to share your life story.  You’re here to do a job.  Do it. This is also known as ADULTING.
And here I give you the secret of the universe…
WATCH. LISTEN. SHUT THE FUCK UP. This is how you learn.  And learn you must.
Christina Cottell Byline Image

NIGHT OWLS Feat. Tommy Grier

Micky Valens | NIGHT OWLS | Issue 2

In this nightlife series, I’ll be primarily highlighting the individuals who are up until the break of dawn busting their ass to make us drinks, play us music, protect us from violence, and everything in between. 

Most recently awarded the Best Bartending Personality at the Golden Owl Hospitality Awards, this month’s Night Owl is Tommy Grier. You can catch him a whopping 5-6 days out of the week at Republic, dishing out booze left right and centre while sporting the most contagious smile. Here is a snapshot of life behind the stick at one of our city’s busiest nightclubs.

How long you been in the game, brotha?

4 of the best years of my entire life.

What was your first gig?

Bartending at the Granville Warehouse <3

When did you realize this is what you wanted to do full-time?

Initially I moved to Vancouver from Calgary to pursue a degree in Video Game Design. I graduated from The Art Institute, and got a job at a startup making Facebook games (shoutout dimeRocker!). Even though the company was great, I quickly realized that Game Design was not for me, and overtime I became depressed. I was living in a new city, with few friends, massive student debt, and working at a job I didn’t enjoy. So I did what any 24 year old does and started going to bars. One of the first bars I went to was The Warehouse. Immediately I was hooked. The culture, the people, the music, the lifestyle. They treated every single person equally. That is the most important lesson I’ve learned that has stuck with me. I would show up alone, which forced me to be outgoing and make friends, and most of those friends ended up being staff. Eventually my good friends Barry Stanford and Brandon Halverson offered to train me to bartend, and Jeff Lockwood (GM) took a chance in hiring me. From the moment I stepped behind the bar, I knew that the service industry was where I wanted to be for the rest of my life.

Most memorable moment you’ve ever experienced while working?

That I can talk about haha? Every night in this industry has the potential to be memorable, and almost every night I work I leave with a new memory to enjoy. Here’s a quick few though: Blowing my first fireball, riding a beer cooler down the big stairs at Alexander, my Chicken & Liquor birthday bash, meeting my best buddy Cam, my speech on the bar at the Granville Warehouse 10 year anniversary, stripping to my underwear for a bachelor auction, and every damn shift at Republic. It is truly remarkable what people think they get away with at a nightclub. We need David Attenborough to narrate.

What part of your job/day-to-day life is awesome?

The balance man! Being able to wake up in the morning and have a full day with my dogs and my beautiful girlfriend Katie, then heading to a job I love is incredible. Bartending requires you to be in a positive mindset 100% of the time; being able to produce that happiness during the day and then share those emotions with other customers is the greatest feeling in the world.

What part of your job/day-to-day life is the toughest?

It’s an unfortunate reality, but keeping your personal drinking habits in check is extremely difficult when you are in this industry. “Going out for one drink” is a laughable war cry for getting shitfaced. Drinking is a very peer pressure intensive activity, and being able to say no and try to live a life that does not revolve around drinking (even though it is my job to revolve other people’s lives around drinking) is something that takes a lot of work.

What was going through your head when they were about to announce the Best Bartending Personality at the GO awards?

My dad encouraged me to put the award ceremony on Facebook Live. I get very awkward when people give me praise for something I am so passionate about, so I just sat there in silence with my head down and my eyes closed. I’m glad it went my way, but to even be mentioned in the same category as some of the other bartenders nominated is absolutely insanity! Like Alex Black! He’s a god!

Advice to any newcomers to the game?

Be fucking humble. We get paid more than most school teachers to do something that takes no formal training, has extremely flexible hours, and connects us into the social framework of a city in a way that not many other jobs can. Appreciate that.

You can catch Tommy at Republic on 958 Granville Tuesday-Sunday.

 

The Ultimate Dine Out Survival Guide For The Everyday Psychopath

Jordan West | PINCH OF SALT | Issue 2

Well folks, it’s that magical time of year again. No, I’m not referring to the post-holiday exhale when everyone is gung-ho about their unrealistic goals for the year. And I’m also not talking about Super Bowl season. Maybe ‘magical’ was the wrong word. Let’s try that again. Well folks, it’s that joyless, unfortunate time of year again! The dismal season that pushes even the most optimistic industry workers to throw themselves over the Lions Gate. Yes, Dine-Out is upon us… and hopefully you aren’t unlucky enough to work in a participating restaurant; but if you are, I have a few tips for getting through it without erupting into homicidal rage.

#1. The Whiny Middle-Aged Complainer

First thing’s first here, whoever came up with the phrase, “the customer is always right” was clearly an asshole customer. The customer is not always right, in fact the customer is usually wrong and if you’re really good at your job you should be able to spin a problem so well that the customer walks away feeling good (or at least confused) about their defeat. So when some entitled, ex trophy-wife whines because you won’t modify the set menu for them, just take one long breath as you lean over to deadpan that dairy-free celiac vegan straight in the face. Then without blinking, calmly explain that you’re sorry her successful husband left her for his secretary and that she was too young and dumb to understand the pre-nup agreement, but you can’t always get what you want in this life. Then lick your finger and stick it directly into her water… just to let her know you’re completely out of your mind.

#2. Non-Tippers

Fuck these people. Maybe not literally, I’ve never slept with a non-tipper who was good at sex, so I definitely don’t want to encourage that… but I digress. Non-tippers are tricky to navigate around. You don’t want to embarrass them in front of their company by pointing out their inability to tip, but if you don’t say something, all of your hard work was for nothing. So now we have a “rock and a hard place” situation. Here is my fault-proof solution to this problem. When you see a whopping zero print on that credit receipt, nonchalantly rip off their copy and remove their credit card from the chip reader. Then, as that cheap motherfucker stands there, waiting for their copy with their wallet held open, snatch the wallet out of their hand and run. I don’t know what you should do next at this point because now you’ve committed a felony… I guess you should just keep running, Forrest.

#3. The Ever-Annoying Hot Water Drinkers

There is a special place in Hell reserved for these people. It’s as if they only go out once a year. For the love of GOD, indulge a little! You only paid thirty dollars for a four-course meal, treat yourself to a fucking orange juice. So when you’re trapped in the weeds and the couple at table six raises their empty water mugs for the eighth time, head on over to the hot water machine, fill a new mug, cutely prop a lemon on the rim and make your way back to the table. Then, just as you approach frugal duo, trip with exaggeration, tossing that piping hot glass of free water into your customer’s face. This solves your problem because they will probably have to call an ambulance and go to the hospital. You’re welcome.

This January, don’t let shitty, annoying customers get you down. Just breathe and calmly repeat this mantra to yourself: “Lie. Steal. Maim”… and then don’t forget to take your Zoloft.

Happy Chinese Martini Season, kids! (I promise this isn’t racist. I once worked with a Chinese girl and she totally called it that too).

TALES…From the Tray

Michelle Whittemore | TALES | Issue 2

Two Gurneys, One Office Party

This is a true story and it happened to a friend of a friend of mine. Actually, it was my colleague, best friend and roommate, Lana, but that doesn’t have as good a ring.

We worked together at a busy Mediterranean restaurant with several rooms, which were often booked for private functions. It wasn’t unusual for two servers to work a party of 35 with help from a busser.

On this particular Friday, I was off, which in hindsight is very weird because I never have a Friday off. Lana was working a party with another server and things were going great. Food was coming up promptly, people were taking their seats and chatting, guests were enjoying the open-bar but not taking advantage. It was an office party, after all.

As the main courses are arriving at the first table, Lana’s attention is drawn to the ting of a fork hitting the floor. The forks owner is slumped in his seat, head down, eyes closed. The woman across from him stands up, startled. Lana goes over, concerned and asks what’s happened. The woman doesn’t know. He just slumped suddenly. Just as Lana goes to touch the man to try to wake him up, he falls from his seat to the floor and begins seizing.    

They were next to a hallway, which led to another part of the restaurant and were able to get the man safely into a recovery position without alarming the other guests. Lana motions to the manager on duty and an ambulance is called. The man is fine but still needs medical attention. Aside from the few at his table, the rest of the party is oblivious to the emergency.

Soon, things have calmed down. The man is in the capable hands of the MOD and an ambulance is on the way. Lana resumes tending to the party. The rest of the entrées have gone out and wine has been topped up. The servers have a, “holy shit, that just happened,” moment and just when the adrenaline began to plateau, a woman who had been, “feeling funny,” earlier in the evening suddenly collapsed. She had been making her way to the front door for some fresh air but what she thought was some light-headedness was actually a stroke.

Now there’s bedlam. The first ambulance is pulling up and everyone in the restaurant is craning their necks to see what all the fuss is about. Two people are laying unconscious near the front door while other guests are trying to get in to make their reservations, the staff is trying to calm everyone down and assure wise-cracking party-goers that, no, it wasn’t the food. ANOTHER ambulance has to be called to take the woman to hospital. Soon there are gurneys everywhere and two ambulances shut down the street with sirens and lights and through the window, a full restaurant on a busy Friday night.  

Everyone was fine in the end. The two guests were taken care of but the party kind of died after the crises.

I’d tell you a story of my own but nothing I’ve ever been through; no bad or good night has ever come close to topping this one.      

Michelle Whittemore Byline Image

 

TALES…From the Heart

Anonymous | TALES | Issue 2

We support each other in this industry. When bad things happen, we will fundraise or cover shifts and do whatever we can to help one another.

It was New Year’s Day and I found out that my six-year-old daughter had been sexually abused the night before. The eight weeks following that day were filled with hospital visits, psychologist visits, court appearances and an overwhelming amount of emotion. Needless to say, I wasn’t able to work and being a single mom of two, that meant I was broke, like cut off the hydro-broke.

A few days after I returned to work, I showed up to my shift, running late, with soaking wet hair. I needed to blow-dry it at work because my hydro had been cut off that morning. Humiliating. I was in the staff bathroom when my GM, Kylee, came in and asked me what was up with the on-work-premise primping. I shamefully told her that I was so broke from my time off and that I hadn’t called hydro for a payment extension on time.

Thirty minutes later, one of the owners came in. George is one of those straight-faced, hard to read kind of guys. The kind of guy where you can rarely tell if he’s joking or serious and most of the time you think that he definitely hates you. George pulled me off the floor and asked to see me in the office. I was scared. I had been with the company less than a year, I had just taken two months off, I was late and blow-drying my hair at work. I didn’t think George was about to fire me but I thought I was about to have a “one on one” about the importance of leaving your personal shit at the door. Instead, he demanded to pay off all of my bills.

George sat me down and told me that he hoped it was okay that Kylee had called him and told him about my situation. He told me that they valued me as an employee and that they needed me to be my smiley self again. He said that he knew they couldn’t take away what had happened, but they wanted to do what they could to help bring my smile back. I cried, obviously.

That night, George called me and asked for all of my account numbers. When I replied with hesitation and embarrassment he cut me off, and in his George way told me he would be pissed if he had to come to my house and get them himself. Nobody argues with George.

George and the company I worked for, (fairly new at the time, but have currently taken over the suburbs,) paid off ALL of my bills. Not just what was past due but enough to keep me in positive standing for a while. They never told anyone what they did and never said a word about it again.

I will always be grateful to them. They shined their light on the darkest time of my life and truly made a difference for my family and I. But, it wasn’t just the money that made the difference; it was the sense of support and community that I felt from them. I worked for them for another four years after that and although I no longer work for them, I will always be loyal and will always support them in any way that I can. One day, I will pay it forward in their honour.

Anonymous Byline Image