Premier Crew 2009

Joe Fortes maitre d’ (and B.C. Restaurant Hall of Fame inductee) Frenchy Gagne (1) has a passion for excellent service, which is why one customer gave him a Cadillac El Dorado as a Christmas gift. For Gagne, the real reward is the opportunity to turn someone’s crummy day around. Andrea Vescovi (2), our Sommelier of the Year (as chosen by the International Sommelier Guild) is wine director at Blue Water Cafe. Born into an Italian family of chefs and vintners, he grew up steeped in the culture of wine and food. He loves developing wine cellars and “bringing joy and goodwill to the dinner table.” In 1972, 21-year-old Bonnie Fong (3) started as a busboy at Hy’s Encore. He never left. Well into his fourth decade, he’s served everyone from Robin Williams to Ronald Reagan’s son. “For me,” he says, “walking into Hy’s is like coming home.” After working with Pino Posteraro in Tuscany, Massimo Piscopo (4) became the floor manager at Cioppino’s when it opened. For him, it’s the customers who make things fresh and exciting—the best thing about his job is “the constant contact with people, which I think keeps you alive.” When she was 25, Lidia Ranallo (5) left a bank job to help husband Claudio run La Piazza Dario. She learned the ropes from her brother-in-law, a veteran server, and after 20 years of doing every job in the room she says her toughest challenge is finding staff who get that, in good times and bad, “you must go out and do your best.” Pierre Rosso (not shown), a 26-year veteran of service at Le Crocodile, says: “Human nature always surprises me. How we can be so sweet at times and so crazy at other times?”