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Chefs get accolades, owners (hopefully) get profits, but it's the front-of-house team who makes sure that the diner experience is just so. And so here, they get some of our love.
Front-of-house veteran Patrick Patterson is unquestionably a server’s server. As a member of the top-notch team at Giardino, he delivers a consummate dining experience, his love for food as evident as his sparkling wit and effortless charm. And, according to one of our judges, he goes out of his way to ensure that each restaurant visitor feels special, “as if they were guests in his own home.”
Lindsay Otto’s effervescent personality and million-watt smile instantly put people at ease when they walk through the door of Bistro Wagon Rouge. Her genuine love for people, coupled with 17 years of industry experience, helps Otto keep the bustling no-reservations neighbourhood spot humming smoothly and seamlessly. “She’s the glue that holds all the pieces together,” summarized one of our judges.
Manitoba-born Sherry Diggle towers behind the bar at Kits’s Nook (yes, she’s well over six feet tall), dispensing her considerable wine knowledge as a certified sommelier. Smart—with a wicked sense of humour—she always knows just the right beverage to go with that pizza.
A teenaged Chen-Wei Lee worked his way up in restaurant kitchens from dishwasher to head prep cook, but his desire to “help shape people’s dining experiences more directly” prompted a shift to front of house. As Royal Dinette’s general manager, he deftly conveys the narrative of a meal, skillfully complementing dishes with inventive wine pairings. Lee’s impeccable professionalism, refined over 10 years in the industry, “balances hustle and volume with finesse,” says one of our judges, while building lasting relationships with guests.
If there’s such a thing as a classic steakhouse waiter, Jaier Vlessing is it. He’s been taking care of business at Gotham for 18 years, and the pride he takes in putting on the white jacket is evident in everything he does. Beloved by the restaurant’s family for his dry wit and the way he delivers great experiences to guests each time he works, Vlessing is a true pro.