There is no sincerer love than the love of food.
– George Bernard Shaw
I have a confession to make. As of lately I have been paying lots of attention to customer service offered everywhere I go, may it be my favorite coffee shops (Starbucks, Second Cup, Tim Hortons, Indie), supermarkets (I even contact managers or owners), public transportation (yes, I take the bus and the subway which btw has been having too many disruptions), gas stations, large stores and more.
Yes, I believe my age has finally kicked in (I still feel young at heart thank you) and I have become a critic or voice out my opinion.
When it’s good or great, I let people in charge know and when it’s not, oh do I have things to write about or phone about.
To be honest, I have been a quality hunter in training for at least the past 5-10 years and when someone or a group or people go above and beyond the call of duty by providing exceptional customer service, the least I can do is to recognize and give kudos to them.
I’ve contacted the companies directly via Twitter, email and by telephone! After all, doesn’t it feel good to know you’ve left a good impression by doing the best you can and people actually notice it? 🙂
As I just said above, recently I have been observing and watching every detail and listen, TRULY listen to what people say, do and how they treat others (see, I told you it’s something). If you only knew…I’d write an entire book about it!
Now, just a few days ago I was invited to an event and it took place at a historic and charming location.
Auberge Saint-Gabriel was established in 1754 and became the first inn in North America and it was also the first establishment to obtain a liquor licence. The impressive wine cellar near the entrance tells more than a story of its past.
Today this little gem, located in Old Montreal and only a few steps from Rue Saint-Paul Ouest, serves French and Local cuisine by using the best and freshest produce of the season.
It is the place to see and be seen, particularly during the Grand Prix weekend in June. One thing is guaranteed, be prepared to be surprised as I was!
Now I may or may not have already told you about my food allergies. Hence, that I was a vegetarian for 5 years, went back to consuming regular products after my return from Asia for a short period of time, then cut out meat from my meals .
A few months ago, i tried the #7dayveganchallenge which completely changed the way I think about food and also what I eat.
Frankly, it was very difficult during the first three days but it got easier with time and definitely saw some great benefits! Ever tried a plant-based diet?
These days, wherever I order or purchase food, whether at a restaurant or supermarket, I read labels carefully on packages and ask whether or not it has been in contact with certain products, say seafood or peanuts.
I always request a vegetarian/vegan option (even call the airline a day or two prior to flying) which is not usually a problem. I have been incredibly lucky so far.
I’ll be honest, it is not easy, nor fun but I do care about my health and take allergies VERY seriously. I do take the necessary steps in order to fully enjoy the meal and I appreciate the help of the cooking staff.
This being said, let me tell you my experience at Auberge Saint-Gabriel.
As I previously mentioned, it was a media event and the menu was already set for meat and fish lovers. I thought I would have to settle with a garden salad but I was wrong, completely wrong.
The friendly and professional staff attending guests that afternoon started by serving us a glass of chilled wine. In this hot weather, it was very much-needed!
I asked our waiter François if it was possible for me to have a vegetarian or vegan meal and let him know my allergies (read above) and he said no problem, he was going to consult the chef on duty if he could create a dish for me. Points earned already.
The entrée was a Salade composée du chef / Chef’s mixed salad
It included thinly sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, caramelized onions and basil leaves as garnish.
For the main course, again I refer back to my special meal request and a few moments later this plate full of goodness was brought to the table 🙂
What a beautiful creation right? It consisted of quinoa, fried tofu and orange sauce along with broccoli, grilled asparagus and green beans and sprinkled parsley. It was both art on a plate and a culinary delicacy 🙂
Of course, as an enthusiast #winelover I had to refill my glass and opted for red wine from Portugal
The selection was a glass of 2011 Coroa Douro. It was bold, rich, fruity, just the perfect complement to the main dish above.
As if that wasn’t enough, we still had to leave some room for dessert. Who says no to it? Raise your hand.
Well, I admit that I have a sweet tooth and its that extra bit of happiness you consume before pursuing your activities the rest of the day!
We were treated to the following
a slice of apple cake with whisky caramel sauce and whipped cream to adorn the place. Is that just pretty and delicious or what? 🙂
We wrapped things up by having a cup of freshly brewed local coffee and that was a great way to end our meeting. It was quite a success!
Now as I was explaining to you earlier, and have already shared with you in the past, the time I took a Gap Year before entering the university and I worked in the restaurant business. What a valuable, humbling and great experience that was.
I am not the typical client or guest who does not know what it’s like to be on the other side, that is serving the tables or help in the kitchen.
On the contrary, I learned so much from those days when I had to open the restaurant/coffee shop at 6 a.m., rain or shine and help prepare the food and drinks every single day and talk to people from all walks of life, from lawyers, tourists, CEOs, even a rock star!
Since I am so not social and don’t like to talk…well, it’s far from the truth. I WILL chew your ear and ask you so many questions that I’ll drive you nuts and you’ll probably walk away or roll your eyes 🙂
Hey, that’s just the journalist at heart and curious person I am and will strike a conversation with whoever provides a service. Communication is a two-way street after all right? 🙂
I never look down on anyone or don’t appreciate the work they do (may it be the janitor, driver, pilot, cook and my luck has it that whoever sits right next to me on the:
e) on the street
just tell me things as if I was an old friend) I want to know about you…if you let me of course. Hopefully one day you’ll remember me and say: “Oh yes, remember that nice Canadian woman” 🙂
Kind words, thank you and good treatment never go out of style and should be said or experienced more in this day in age right?
That being said, I asked François and Dominic
about their work and they said they have been working there for over a decade! They genuinely enjoy meeting guests from around the world.
Service is not just that, it is an art and with time, it gets better right? If that’s not passion or dedication, I don’t know what is!
As you very well know, it takes an entire team to make a restaurant successful and the magic happens in the kitchen!
I thought of presenting to you some of the members who help create those delicious, fresh and high quality culinary creations.
Here is the cooking staff:
Left to Right: Derek, Guillaume, Simon (Chef) and Benoît.
Can you sense the dynamics or energy emanating from this team? 🙂
These lovely ladies are the skilled pâtissières or bakers
Left to right: Amélie, Héloïse and Mélisa.
Making desserts requires skills, knowledge, patience and creativity and they know how to!
I simply wanted to say THANK YOU, MERCI through this post. Your work is appreciated and that food! Hard to forget or resist 🙂
If you ever visit Montreal, I highly recommend you go and try the food, especially out on the terrace if it’s sunny!
It’s important to mention that no one twisted my arm to write this. I did it because I wanted to and they deserve it.
If I REALLY like a place or service, you will get the truth from me. You know by now that I’m not afraid of giving you my two cents on any topic. Not convinced? Check out my Twitter timeline. Don’t say I didn’t warn you 🙂
I hope you enjoyed the Culinary Delights at Auberge Saint-Gabriel in Old Montreal!
Now it’s your turn…
When and where was last time you received exceptional customer service?
Did anyone go above and beyond that made you say wow?
I’d love to read all about it.
Share your stories in the comment section below.
Until next time, hasta la próxima, à la prochaine!
Tashi delek, all the best,