....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.
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.
Renaissance man Tyrel Jared Bland Shaw (his real name...always gets me because one of my best pals is called JARED BLAND) started at the Hoof on the stove and made the rare move to FOH a while back. He knew it would be a tough adjustment ("omg I didn't know I was gonna lose my voice from talking to people??!") but he picked up bartending really quickly and his service is wonderful. And, he has a newfound respect for FOH
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.
We just CANNOT get Kat to stop smiling! ok ok I'm having a little fun as it's a rare yet WONDERFUL thing when she does crack a big beautiful smile. She's so organized with her prep and puts up meticulous plates. And cooks great southern food.
This woman is incapable of taking a bad photograph. It was so hard to pick, they were all equally amazing. How is she not a model??? Yolanda frequently delights us with weekly hair change-ups. She went away for a while to do her other job but we missed her so much we begged her to come back.
Andrew's face cannot tell a lie. If you want to know how he feels about something he might not necessarily want to disclose just ask him and read his face like a large print book. He also happens to be an extremely talented cook and baker (he spent a year at Blackbird) and is always working on cool breads.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Steven and Tyrel are best pals. We try not to let them work together too much...too much giggling.
Emma brings her diverse experience (Sam James Coffee Bar, Parts and Labour and the incomparable Fogo Island Inn) to Rhum Corner! She's down to earth, whip smart and hella fun--come say hey to her, she'll make you feel right at home.
Jayde is a cooks cook. Pretty much the highest praise. He was at the Hoof for a year before he stepped into the role of Chef. He's a natural leader and a joy to work with, partly because he's so open to the staff's opinions about his food. Because he is always striving to make it better, and believes in the rewards of collaboration. One time he fractured his thumb and didn't really mention it and just kept working. I yelled at him to go to the damn doctor. If it's not already perfectly clear, I'm thrilled to have him running things.
Ok, wow, Lee is super lucky timing-wise because last night I had to cancel the staff party due to a wicked bout of vertigo and CB was going to be closed (because staff party) then he volunteered to open it. I wasn't going to insist, he is just awesome like that. I mean he's always awesome, just was extra last night. Also married to Julia they met at work HOOF WEDDING!
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.
Carmen comes to us from Park in Montreal, where, years before we ever even had the idea to hire her, she served us delicious sushi with the grace and humour of someone with far more experience. She's getting her WSET diploma through the Hoof's continuing education program and she's gotten really good at tetris-ing up the plates on our little tables.
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.)
Phillipe comes to Rhum from the Caribbean by way of Noma (and no, he didn't just stage there for two weeks, he worked there for two years). His family is all in Grenada and when I was there on vacation recently, his mom treated us like family, and served up a v punchy rum punch. It's obvious where he gets his warmth and hospitality. He brings great energy, experience and organization to Rhum. we are so lucky to have him.
I could write a whole essay on Moto's straight-up wonderfulness, but I'll try to keep it brief. When he started as a dishwasher his English was minimal, but his incredible work ethic put us all to shame. He was always going above and beyond his already very busy job and doing extra things like putting up chilled glasses for the bartender--all in the right order--and bussing tables when he walks by if they need it. Now he's in the kitchen where he wants to be, although I'm certain he could do any job in the restaurant.
Matriarch to all things Hoof.
Moe took over for Moto and as filled his big shoes running the pit on a Saturday at the Hoof. And she does it with a smile and an amazing attitude. Major plus: her name is pronounced Mo-way
Allison is Rhum's mom. She's so kind and nurturing to all the staff and always has a smile for the customers. She goes out of her way to make people feel good and you can taste the love in her food. She totally gets Caribbean cooking, through and through. Hoping we'll eventually convince her Konpa > Soca
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.
Jillian is so impressive. She's what we in the business (the restaurant business) call "a natural". She started at Rhum and picked it up so quickly now she has a shift at the Hoof. Also she is an absolutely ray of sunshine LOOK AT THAT SMILE!