Justine provides the kind of elegant, graceful service that almost can't be taught. Her food and wine knowledge is vast, but she's never, ever snobby about it. And don't let that angelic face fool you, she can filth it up with the rest of us....in fact, she probably started it. From REGINA. Someday I would like her to make me a hundred beautifully cut dresses, because she's really amazing at making beautiful dresses.
Virgil is a very talented painter. So talented that Rolly and I bought this fantastic piece he did of this wacko queenly figure on carpet underlay. It is so cool. He learned how to be great at service the best way, from the ground up and has an innate love of food and drink. Takes the staff meal "rivalry" with Stu, very seriously. He is awesome to work with and so good at integrating new hires into the many complex folds of the Hoof.
Look at this girl. Fucking perfect bone structure. It took me forever to pick her picture as they were all EQUALLY great. Nozomi has the wackiest/best fashion sense of all Hoof staff. From her anchor pants to her gold coat, she can rock any look and although she looks great, I recognize how dumb I'd look in her outfits. My goal is to have her food running by the summer. Promote from within!
Ok, Mitch is cherubic (clearly), wicked smart and just a joy to have around. We can't wait until art "school" lets out for the summer, so he can work ALL THE TIME! My personal favourite of his many school projects is the small talk destroyer. It automatically started in on the small talk when you shook someone's hand. So you didn't have to. Genius. Some technical difficulties. Patent pending.
Where to start.....We 'ave a laugh. (DG is from England where that's an expression of familiarity and convivial friendship). Working with him on the Cocktail Bar menu and taking it from good to great was so easy because we just want the drinks to be excellent. And despite us both having well-oiled, very functioning egos, and huge, black competitive streaks, we only make each-other's cocktails better, with uncensored, profanity-laden, gin-soaked critiques. I don't know what I'd do without him (which is why I'm holding on to his passport.....for safe-keeping. Obvs.)
Kris is one of those super-talented cooks who's all humble and just slides in and does everything perfectly. A rare thing in this business of macho boys and puffed-up bro-vado (the WORST, but that was a pretty great pun).
Matriarch to all things Hoof.
Beardo here comes from a coffee background, which has consistently proven to be a good base for learning cocktails. The other night I was in CB after work and he sat down to have a drink and these girls kept asking him to touch his beard. It was a little much. He handled it in stride and good spirit, which appears to be his MO. Update: Has shaved beard completely off. Unrecognizable.
Jake comes to us from L'abattoir in Vancouver via Grand Electric (Hi Ian don't hate me). He has won countless awards and co-authored the fabulous wine blog, "Cherries and Clay." When he told me he liked my wine list at Raw, I almost choked up. We've been working together on all the Hoof lists and I respect and value his input ('cause he knows SO much more than me, but is completely un-obnoxious about it). He is heading up Hoof wine school and is basically wonderful.
Dan is a tireless salami making and terrine baking force. And he does it all while doing prep for the Hoof and snack service at CB. It's the greatest kitchen job in town (no stressy hoof services) if you have the required self-motivation. Luckily, he does, in spades.
Kal is SO GREAT. Super-relaxed and comfortable and so good at service. Roland basically started chatting with him at Cold Tea one time and now he works here. 1/3 of the core of the Rhum FOH team. Has serious moves. Is really into some boxing/fighting thing that has a name I'm sure and is just lovely to be around.
Aidan's mind works at warp speed. He ALWAYS has a smarter, better, faster comeback. It makes me crazy, but also makes me laugh. A lot. He totally never takes the joke too far and never needs to use his inside voice. He is probably wondering why his wine smells like doritos. It's because he lives on doritos, so everything smells like doritos. Paid for by doritos. When not hanging out around the Hoof, you can find him dj-ing awesome sets at all the cool bars.
Shun struck a few tough-guy poses, but I chose this super-smiley one....we treat our dish washers like gold, can't have them looking like they're in prison on the "people" page. He's a man of few words, but very conscientious.
Nickname: "Fashion" (it's all about how you say it). Her store, Woodlawn, on Dundas is super-well curated and full of beautiful clothes at surprising prices. Seriously, check it out. She also has a degree in bio-chem, which helps explain her scientific and precise approach to mixing cocktails (which she is very, very good at). She works incredibly hard at making her store one of the best in the city while still managing to come in every Wednesday and stir up cocktails. Is always impeccably dressed.
Cale is full of quirks and charm and youthy enthusiasm (but only for cool shit). He has great taste in music and nail polish and is incredibly nice to deal with. No complaining, just gets shit done. I never think he's going to shuffle off to buffalo in the company sunfire, with the company debit card but.... you never know.
Often mistaken for Justine (by customers, not us) due to their mutual love of horizontal stripes. Her sense of humour may be dry like the Sahara, but her baking isn't. Moist cookies and bars galore. So many delicious treats, she spoils us. She and I are currently enjoying a long-term game of before and after you've gone with the wind beneath my wings of desire: the band of brothers Karamazov. What category was THAT??? Also, she's got some tricked out dance moves, which she sometimes breaks out during service.
....I could fly higher than an eeeeeaaagle....you get the idea. None of this would have been possible without Roland believing in and investing in my crazy idea to open a charcuterie restaurant. So kind, so wise and so handsome. We somehow managed to find each other, for which I am constantly surprised and grateful. He has made me question my choices. Has never NOT called me on my bullshit. And is the only man who's ever "reined me in"...as my father so eloquently puts it. We are a team. He is the love of my life.
Sean brings the hustle. Last week I saw him just start putting the FOH dry goods order away. I told him he didn't have to, but he just kept stacking boxes. Now, that, is what I like to see. Great vibe about him seems like a perfect fit.
Stu started as a food runner waaay back and after much cajoling finally let us mold him into a sensational server and bartender. He is the go-to for where shit is hiding in the many nooks and crannies of hoofland and I can always count on him. One of the few FOH who participates in prepping staff meal (his are awesome) but he has an advantage of having worked in kitchens. Loves food and brings such a great vibe of "water off a ducks back" which balances us all out. Total package!
No, we didn't hire Sarah because she has the Hoof "look". The idea that we only hire converse-wearing brunettes who have awesome jeans is TOTALLY ridiculous. They also have to be smart, not uptight, and have a wicked sense of humour. Oh, and be really awesome at service. So ya, no bias here. ps wear stripes to your job interview
Ropes is a ray of sunshine inside the mini-spring-break-in-a-sunset that is Rhum Corner. Our long-term friendship has not hampered our ability to work together, but that's probably because I'm more relaxed now. She brings leadership, kindness and a nuanced (read: obsessive) sense of organization to the 'Corner. Washes hands a lot. Is in charge of all the plants, lest I murder them. Loves puns. So much. If you see her, definitely share all your worst, most groan-inducing puns.
Masa has a huge following as a reggae dj. He's been working really hard at the details and always has the latest club reggae tracks to blast before service.
Jesse and I like to go to the Sasmart. Sometimes we buy sassafraz. I am so happy with his relaxed yet strong leadership. There is real collaboration in the kitchen and lots of communication with the FOH. He's settled into the Hoof groove and has already introduced so many great new dishes, like the instant classic "pop and chips blood pudding" and the perfect surf 'n turf of "oxtail and scallops". His excellent sense of humour helps make long hoof services even more fun. Loves Vancouver. Gives great hug. Roland on Jesse: "This guy is more black than I am", but said like how Roland would say it.
Shane works at Sam James Coffee Bar and Sam and I have worked out a share system. His extensive coffee training with SJ gave him a solid platform on which to start building cocktails (a little pun for the cocktail nerds). He is precise, particular and fast and loves it when you talk Australian to him. His band, Fast Romantics, is just my speed of indie rock. And look at him, he's a Rudy Valentino for the ages.