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Your first Vancouver restaurant job


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It wasn't in Vancouver but my first summer job was at the Le Reveillon Hotel/Motel Restaurant at the corner of Viau and Sherbrooke in the east end of Montreal just up the street from the Olympic Stadium.

I was a bus boy, banquet waiter and did room service. First week-end was Mother's Day...I thought my knees were going to die.

I kept turning off the restaurant music which was that terrible "elevator muzak" of the '70's and trying to look innocent when the manager came storming in.

Enjoyed the bus loads of American tourists who came up to visit Montreal complementing me on my English...as I thanked them very much with some "faux" accented French....English being my "mother tongue".

I rarely eat boeuf bourguinon as that always seemed to inevitably be the "staff food".

Run ins with the fiery who I finally told to shut up and quit screeming to which he replied en francais, "I don't scream, I speak loudly".

The week-end I did room service walking miles with a vicious hangover...one thing about the restaurant trade, you always had cash in ones pocket to spend on Crescent or Bishop Streets or the Beer Gardens at La Ronde...and almost never delivering what had been ordered. The room menu had the meals numbered. Pancakes are #1, eggs #2, etc. etc. Unbeknownst to me who is taking the orders and delivering them, management had changed the menu and the numbering without advising the kitchen.

The time after about an eighteen hour shift I walked back into the kitchen loaded down with a big tray of various glasses from a wedding. Managed to get through the swinging door but just before the two steps down into the kitchen I stepped on some spilt ice cream....come to think of it, I cannot stand creme de methe parfaits either anymore...and my feet went out from under me like Basil in Fawlty Towers or a Monty Python sketch and the glassware went everywhere. I cleaned myself up, threw off my white jacket and stormed out. Returned for work the next morning and no one said a thing.

Last time I worked in the trade. Maybe that is why I appreciate the folks that do.

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Right out of high school i bussed tables at Granville Isl market for CMHC, it was great, everyone gave me free lunches and all food in general and my friend and I would hvae a great time chatting everyone up while wandering around pikcing up the odd plate and garbage, thankfully we didn't have to wear the uniforms then, just white levis, which didn't make sense at all as they would be filthy within 10 mins. of working, esp. when you were hit by the odd seagull or pigeon.

First actual cooking job was at Out to Lunch, was only there for a 4 months, but learnt an incredible amount.


"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well."

-Virginia Woolf

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I'm not in the industry either, but I also had my share of related jobs - my first, like nwyles scooping ice cream - at the Sara's Ice Cream Parlour (looked a bit like an old-fashioned ice cream parlour, but it was more a portable thing - very cramped) in Departure Bay in Nanaimo. Ice cream has never really been a favourite since, and I can't stand the smell of waffle cones. I had to quit after developing fairly severe tendonitis (from scooping) - went on to be a park interpreter on Newcastle Island (this is a tree, that is an anthill, the sea's gone away because of the moon, no you can't eat the raccoons and please stop feeding them your marshmallows).

My first Vancouver restaurant job was at Horizons on Burnaby Mountain - hostess (had to wear a lovely purple polyester dress - at least they paid for drycleaning) - I wonder what the stats are on the number of people they put through a degree at SFU?

Edited by Viola da gamba (log)
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My first job in Vancouver was 1994 at Ouisi Bistro on South Granville. I started there as First cook, and very quickly became Executive Chef. My first real industry job however was when I was 13 years old. I found that I liked to have some cash, so I got a job at a small bakery washing dishes.


Adesso Chef

Travis Williams

Executive Chef


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My first job in Vancouver was 1994 at Ouisi Bistro on South Granville. I started there as First cook, and very quickly became Executive Chef. My first real industry job however was when I was 13 years old. I found that I liked to have some cash, so I got a job at a small bakery washing dishes.


You mean Adesso isn't your first gig? :shock:


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My first restaurant job was La Folie in White Rock, after finishing the culinary program at Dubrulle (sadly La Folie is no longer around). This is a second career for me after slaving it out for 16 years as an engineer. I have profound respect for those who started out young in the restaurant business and have stuck with it!

Support your local farmer

Currently reading:

The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters

Just finished reading:

The 100-Mile Diet by Alisa Smith & J. B. MacKinnon

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a coffee place in kitsilano about 2.5 years ago.

while waiting for a coffee, i've had a couple of different job offers.

one of the fireworks nights a couple of years ago, a man was waiting for 3 hot chocolates and a latte, i believe, he told me, "you can come work in my restaurant anytime." i was a student, had my schedule tuned perfectly to pay rent, so I didn't.

i got better, the place didn't, so i moved on to artigiano.

Barrett Jones - 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters

Dwell Time - my coffee and photography site

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When I moved to Canada from Germany 4 years ago, I started waitressing at Soda's Diner on Dunbar, the only job I could find without Canadian references.

It was a blast - burgers and milkshakes all day, 50s music blaring from the Juke Box, and whole soccer teams coming in at lunch time. It was unlike anything I'd ever experienced in 15 years of working in the industry in Germany.

I still ride my bike there in the summer to sit on the patio and slurp the best milkshakes in town.

Welcome, Sonja. In an earlier generation, I was one of those nasty boys in short gray flannel pants (from the school around the corner) that came for milkshakes, but at the adjacent Ann's Cafe.

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine


Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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My first restaurant job was at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre as a dishwasher. It payed $3.25/hour. At the same time I was at Expo 86 at the Saskatchewan Pavillion working as a busboy. That was the resaurant where people would line up for hours for simple comfort food. Turkey, mash, gravy and veg. Mountain berry muffins in the morning. I would show up to work in the morning and there would be a line up for muffins! Crazy time, bring on the Olympics!

Leonard J Nakonechny

C Restaurant GM

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Mine too was not in Vancouver-. It was at a little pizza place on the island in Cobble Hill and I had just turned 13 and was hired as ALL of the following...

1. Waitress

2. Busser

3. Head Chef

4. Video rental clerk (of HIGHLY questionable videos)

5. Payroll clerk (I payed myself out of the till)

I was usually the only person on when I worked there, so I had to do EVERYTHING when I was on shift generally...which was a TRUE learning experience.

The then owners (new owners now...no videos...GREAT pizza) were perpetually stoned and hot boxed the bathroom. He was the delivery guy, and they raised attack dogs, and when I handed him a pizza to be delivered, I had to bring my hand in REALLY quickly, for fear of the dog sitting in the front seat of the truck.

He also got arrested for a botched attempted bank robbery.

Needless to say, most of my customers were

It was weird...very weird. I did however learn the following.

1. An irrational fear of ham

2. How to make the worlds best pizza sauce

3. Pizza knives make for good security when you are by yourself at 2 am

4. Debbie did Dallas and alot of other cities according to the video boxes

5. You can get a 2nd hand buzz off of a hotboxed bathroom

6. Police officers are very good tippers

7. How to make a pizza from dough to table in under 20 minutes

I now work in Communications...but I dream of being a chef. As long as I don't have to use any ham.

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Two stints, early 90's.

Lunches at Jean Pierre's on Dunsmuir, then Dinners at Senor Frogs on Cornwall.

A few times I got rides to Frog's with broker's who were out for the full pull of debachery.

I seem to recall working a hung-over lunch or two after pouring myself out of work at 3 or 4 am.

I can't imagine handling something like that nowadays.

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First food related job was working the front counter at Embe Bakery on Salt Spring Island. Part time during the last year of high school, then full time for a year before moving back to Vancouver. It was a good place but put me off eating croissants for a very long time.... all that butter! The effect has worn off now unfortunately :blink:

First restaurant job was working at the now long since defunct Hearts on Alma at West 5th. Waitressing and working behind the cap machine churning out lattes by the dozen. Mind you, I also used to drink double, and triple shot lattes by the dozen which probably explains why I almost never go out for coffee anymore. :biggrin:


Always take a good look at what you're about to eat. It's not so important to know what it is, but it's critical to know what it was. --Unknown

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Where it all began for me was 1979 at Highland’s golf Course in Edmonton.

Now from so many of postings you probably guess that I was from Edmonton, I still have a soft spot for her. I was a busboy and dishwasher and cook, loved to blast on the golf carts, never even played golf, which reminds me of the time I worked at Jasper Park Lodge, I tried to play late night drunk golf, had many swings and missed the ball, then my partners said if I could not hit the next ball, I could not play unless I was a cattie well if you ever played JPL you would know that it is quit a bit of a trek I carried two bags the whole way, I must have been insane.

The place that was the best time and where I learned the most would be The Windsor Arms in TO, they excelled with food like no body I have ever seen. A few of the West coast chefs went through the program, Peter Zambri, Rob Clark, and Chef Fowke did you not spend some time at Windsor Arms.


Cook To Live; Live To Cook
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