When I set off on my bike with a resume in hand, I didn’t exactly have a career in the restaurant industry in mind. In fact, at 12 years old, I’d only been in a handful of restaurants in my entire life. But, as luck would have it, the first business I came to was a restaurant called G.Willie’s. I looked older than I was, and at that moment they had a warehouse filled with dishes and a busy restaurant keeping all their existing staff busy. The job was mine.
In the 20 years since then I have always had a restaurant job of some kind – whether it was in the kitchen, out front serving tables, or behind the bar. I’ve worked in a vegetarian juice-bar with 10 tables where everything was organic and made from scratch and I got to make up a new menu every day. I’ve been a baker in a cafe that featured my grandmother’s cookie recipes and finely crafted espresso drinks, and worked in the kitchen of a fancy italian place that made their own pasta from scratch. I mastered the art of the hamburger and the ultimate hedgehog milkshake at the Cola Diner to the accompaniment of live jazz music, and learned the finer points of spinning pizza dough (and late night delivery survival skills) from a pro at a pizza and lobster joint. I’ve worked the bar and collected glasses in a haunted hotel ballroom on the west coast of Ireland, and served at a bustling nightclub-style bar on Granville Street in downtown Vancouver.
The last six years saw me happily settled in Vancouver as a server at Steamworks – one of the biggest (seating for over 700 people), and busiest, brewpubs that I’ve ever seen.
People were often shocked when they find out I have several university degrees and still spent my time outside the restaurant running a successful consulting firm. “WHY are you still working as a server?” they wanted to know.
My only answer is this: I didn’t want to give it up. I like the buzz and the energy, the people and the music, and the drinks and the glimpses I get into people’s lives as they come and go around me.
BUT, all good things must come to an end and in January of 2012 I hung up my apron and “retired” from the restaurant industry to be a full time writer and consultant. On the bright side – that’s more time available for dining out wherever I want!
Also, Jared and I finally tied the knot ‘officially’ so you may occasionally find me referred to as Crystal Hunt. Don’t be confused – still me!