Premier Crew 2014

Food tastes better served with François Rameau’s infectious laugh, lilting accent, and zest for life. He began serving at age 11 in his family’s Pouilly-sur-Loire restaurant; stints from New Caledonia to New Orleans followed, landing him at Umberto’s in the ’80s, then Don Francesco in 2013.

Running a family business while doubling as GM at bustling Ask for Luigi doesn’t faze Matthew Morgenstern. Certified as a geomatics engineer, he stumbled upon the joys of wine education at night school. “I took a leap, started doing the restaurant stuff, and it took over my life.”

From a small Czech Republic town, Denisa Johnova worked her way up from a first gig as server’s assistant, improving her English on the job. Her knack for hospitality now shines at Hawksworth: “I make a point to slow down and be 100 percent there for every guest, even when everything is hectic and busy.”

From bussing at Toronto’s Old Spaghetti Factory in the ’70s until he opened West as GM in 2000, Brian Hopkins has been walking the “delicate balance of being warm and friendly without being too much of either.” Now at the Sutton Place Hotel, he hews to a refined and respectful professionalism that’s never loosened its grip on the maxim, Cleanliness is next to godliness.