Friday, February 25, 2011


When does a wine need to be decanted and why do we decant a wine at all.

Firstly most wines you will purchase at the LCBO do not need to be decanted, decanting involves pouring wine from the wine bottle to another container typically a glass decanter.

Decanting is a procedure to remove sediment from the wine which will create a bitter taste if left in contact also to aerate the wine allowing the wine to breathe.
The procedure for decanting is as follows:

Carefully remove the foil from the bottle; gently remove the cork and wipe the inside neck of the bottle.
Holding the decanter in one hand and the wine bottle in the other begin to slowly pour the wine into the decanter with the neck over a candle so as to see the sediment as it appears. Once the sediment appears then stop decanting.

Other wines that are sometimes decanted, very young racy reds that need aerating allowing the flavours open, there are a couple of white wines I would recommend decanting as a Sommelier white Chateauneuf De Pape and Coindrieu both need to aerate and allow the aromas open, make sure the decanter is placed on ice after decanting.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Staff training and the costs involved has always been a hot topic within the hospitality industry, larger corporations understand the need to allocate funds to train and develop their teams in order for their business to grow as well as to protect their brand.

Working for private owners can be challenging when trying to look at a sensible budget to train employees and personal development plans for line managers.

In my opinion that employee training is vitally important in order for any business to be successful and continue to grow. Often in hospitality we recruit college students to fill seasonal positions, in order to set these people up for success they have understand customer service and what your brand is, then there is product knowledge which enables all of us to excel and increases sales and increase repeat business.

Training techniques have changed dramatically in recent years from reading, audio programmes, podcasts and webinars employers have to be more creative how we get the message across.

Over the last 5 years I have worked in seasonal properties recruiting students from all over Canada, I make a point of facilitating customer service programs and product educational seminars as I believe leadership buy in has to come from the top this way the message is clear as so is the expectation.

There are a great amount of benefits that to a company large or small can gain by investing in their team such as, higher sales, improved reputation, repeat business, reduced expenses, less employee turnover attracting employees to your company.

Yes there is a cost in training no question, but the benefits out way the costs it is something than you need to commit too long term with that commitment coming from the highest level, without doubt your organization will definitely reap the awards.

Monday, January 31, 2011


Sommeliers or wine experts as their known generally work in larger upscale restaurants that incorporate wine programs for their guests, where the establishment recognises the importance of having a person knowledgeable in the world of wine and beverages.

Today Sommeliers not only have to look after the cellar, the wine list, staff training but also are often involved in management duties in running the restaurant.

Sommeliers work closely with the Chef understanding the cuisine which enables the Sommelier to recommend appropriates wines to accompany their meal.

Sommeliers are responsible for their inventory as well as creating sales incentives for staff, as purchasing wine on a ongoing basis.

To become a Sommelier takes time you need to study and take a recognised course and of course at every opportunity taste wine to develop your senses and tasting skills.

Sommeliers are well respected in the hospitality industry, often paid well with lots of opportunity to travel, wine is always evolving and so must the knowledge of the sommelier.

I have listed some programs that may be interest to you wishing to learn more about the World of wine.

Court of Master Sommeliers / George Brown College
International Sommelier Guild / Wine & Spirit Educational Trust

Monday, January 24, 2011


Having spent a great deal of my working career working in the front of house it is evident that it is getting more and more difficult to find professional servers.

In Europe if you work in a restaurant as a Chef De Rang {station waiter} you are treated with respect as it is thought of as a career and not a stepping stone for something else.

When I arrived in Canada in 1999 nearly my entire front of house team was recruited from your Europe on a contract as it was difficult to find the calibre of people that wanted to work in hospitality.

Typically I find that for every 15 people I employ front of house only one will make a great server.

There are a number of attributes a server must 1st and foremost is personality they must pleasant, approachable and enjoy interacting with other people.

Appearance is very important as this create the guests 1st impression of you and also of their experience to come. Product knowledge is important but the desire to learn is much more important as you can develop a server’s technique and product knowledge.

When serving guest a server should be friendly, professional at all times, attentive anticipating guests needs, unobtrusive displaying a high level of integrity and respect

Monday, January 17, 2011


The interpretation of a Gastro Pub will differ from one person to another depending on how they visualize the concept.

In the 1990’s fine dining restaurants in the United Kingdom rapidly began to lose business due to the economy, and then came along today what is known as the Gastro Pub.

Gastro Pubs evolved quickly became a popular option for diners, so much so that many well known Chef’s had opened Gastro Pubs offering high quality food a couple of notches higher than your typical pub food at affordable prices.

This concept in the UK became very popular with all age groups offering quality restaurant style food at pub prices allowing people to eat out more regularly.

Gastro Pubs were food lead operations unlike your typical pub which offered a large selection of beers, also the setting in a Gastro Pub was more upscale often set with linen and crystal glassware, menus typically featured a large selection of daily specials.

In Ontario there are several Gastro Pubs in Toronto, it is my opinion this is a concept that could do well in Canada although I have not experienced a typical Gastro Pub in Ontario yet.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Over the last 20 years I have opened several hotels and restaurants this does not include seasonal properties which I have managed, all of which involved extensive recruitment.

Throughout the process of hiring often raises the question is education or qualifications more important than industry gained experience.

I have always kept an open mind when recruiting even when looking for key management positions, corporate hotels I have worked for will insist on formal qualifications and education.

For a big part of my career I have worked for private owners which have allowed me to select candidates with no strict criteria.

In the late 1990’s I was the General Manager of a two Michelin Starred restaurant rated as one of the top 10 in the UK, to my surprise the Head Chef had no formal training as a Chef but had worked his way up the ranks from a kitchen porter covering every area of the kitchen under the guidance of the Chef proprietor eventually becoming Head Chef. To this day he is in my eyes one of the best Chef’s I have had the pleasure to work with, great attention to detail, an excellent leader, trainer and mentor to all those around him.

More recently I was GM of a high profile 5 Star resort and needed to find an Executive Chef for which I interviewed several candidates and finally selected who I thought would be the best for the role.

The person I appointed had no formal qualifications but I felt strongly he was the right person, unfortunately not everybody agreed and his appointment was initially frowned upon.

Since then that particular person has completed 4 very successful seasons and has become a great ambassador for the property.

Qualifications are very important and valuable, they are certainly are big plus when looking for employment, however it is an individual’s work ethic, professionalism, leadership qualities and job skills that will determine their future.

Monday, December 20, 2010


I personally believe that where ever possible you should try and support your local suppliers; it is great for business and creates interesting features on the menu for staff to get excited about particularly if you take the time to take them on site visits.

There are many different interpretations on what is defined as local, the CIFA states the term local means locally grown domestic goods being purchased within a 50km radius. By buying local you support the local economy, maintain local jobs and you are being kinder to the atmosphere by reducing gas emissions with less transportation.

We have an abundance of some great local suppliers / producers such as Kolapore Trout farm, Black Angus Meats, Sanfellipo and Grandma Lambe’s  to name a few.

Using local produce certainly gives Chef’s the opportunity to create dishes using the freshest ingredients at their best,  making them popular items on menu’s.

Who is your favourite local supplier?