The dream team of Vancouver’s restaurant scene

You might recognize their faces. You’ve probably been served their drinks. And you’d better have tipped them well. Meet Vancouver’s front-of-house all-stars for 2016

April 13, 2016

By Jenni Elliott / Photo: Carlo Ricci

 

roger

Roger Maniwa, Sommelier, Hawksworth

“It’s funny to think I started by doing prep at one of the PNE’s food stalls 13 years ago. After that, I said I would bus for one year because I was enjoying myself, even if it meant postponing my mechanics program at BCIT, but then I started getting interested in the drinks side of things and was eventually made a bartender at O’Doul’s. That’s when I realized that this was the career for me. I became friends with some sommeliers and started taking bartending and wine courses. I’ve been very lucky to have encountered industry colleagues, mentors, and friends with a passion and energy that have helped me get to where I am today. I eventually joined Hawksworth when they opened back in 2011 and have been with them ever since.”

grant

Grant Sceney, Head Bartender, Fairmont Pacific Rim

“My older brother told me I needed to get a job, so as soon as I was old enough, I got one at the pub he worked at in Melbourne. At that point I didn’t know I wanted do this forever, but I knew I wanted to travel and bartending seemed like a job that could let me do that. I came to Vancouver in 2009 to work in Whistler for the Olympics—unusual for an Australian, I know. The Pacific Rim up there made me a bartender (even though I’d only applied to be a server). Then, two years after I moved to Vancouver in 2010, I was made head bartender, and here I am today. People are surprised to hear I actually drink more champagne than anything else. I like that you can have it with brunch or for a special occasion. It’s an all-day kind of drink—the best kind.”

tara

Tara Thom
Restaurant Director, Ancora

“I started working as a dishwasher and a chambermaid at my dad’s inn up north in Kitimat when I was a kid. I remember being in grade three and telling my teacher I wanted to be a waitress when I grew up—it’s just always been my passion. My favourite thing about what I do is making sure each guest has the best experience possible. It’s not just coming in to a restaurant and being razzle dazzled—that’s not the way I manage my floor.”

michel

Michel Durocher
Service Manager, Bauhaus

“My career in hospitality began back in ’89 when I was delivering pizzas for Domino’s. What inspired me to stay in the industry? Hard cash. I went through the Earls training program, then finally realized that I was in this for the long-haul when I was working for a hotel company in Australia. One of my favourite career stints was when I worked as the food and beverage manager at Kicking Horse Resort [outside of Golden]. We would get woken up at 5 am by the mountain safety team blasting explosives to avoid avalanches. That was a pretty memorable experience. That, and getting mugged after the Van Mag awards in 2011. Now there’s a story.”

jenna

Jenna Briscoe,
General Manager, Café Medina

“The first job I ever had was as a server at Earls. I say to anyone that has an interest in hospitality that they should start there, or at any of
the large corporations. They train you properly, and you learn to get your feet wet. Afterwards, I realized I liked working for smaller, independent restaurants. I’m very lucky at Café Medina because we worked hard to build a family there, so it’s pretty hard to have a bad day.”

ben

Ben De Champlain
General Manager, Cinara

“I spent 16 years as a line cook before I moved to the front of house, and now I really enjoy being able to pay my rent. I’ve bounced around a lot, but always seem to end up coming back to the restaurant industry. Most people don’t last two years in one restaurant. You’re always looking for a new challenge, a new team, new food. Being front of house is a bit different, but when you’re happy with your bosses, the clientele, and your produce, you’re proud to work there. Cinara is the best job I’ve had in this city. To have a family-run restaurant in downtown Vancouver? There’s nothing quite like it.”

kristi

Kristi Linneboe
General Manager and Wine Director, Maenam

“I’ve been with Maenam for five years—they’ve been so supportive of me, and I credit all my learning and growth to them. The most impactful thing on my career so far was when I spent three months in Southeast Asia. I did a stage at Nahm in Thailand—Angus An trained there under Chef David Thompson—and I learned how to pair wine with Thai food. Finding matches for fish sauce and lime isn’t always as easy as you’d think.”

Back to Restaurant Awards 2016 >>>

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