This month, our spotlight associate is: Trevor Robertson, F&B Director, Radisson Hotel Saskatoon
I stumbled into cooking by accident in high school. I fell in love instantly. After high school, I completed an apprenticeship program at a hotel in Winnipeg, MB and then went on to work at a prestigious fishing camp in northern Manitoba. At this camp, my food deliveries travelled two hours to an airbase and then were flown into the camp, providing there was enough room for everything on the plane. Managing inventory and menu planning were crucial. After two seasons at the camp, I moved to Saskatoon and took a job as a line cook at the Radisson Hotel Saskatoon. Although I went from being a chef to a line cook, I was excited to do so as the Radisson Hotel Saskatoon was, in my mind, the best kitchen to work in in Saskatoon. In my ten years with SilverBirch, I have held many titles: line cook, CDP, Sous Chef, Executive Sous Chef, Executive Chef, and now F&B Director. In my tenure with SilverBirch I have been fortunate to be recognized by my peers on several occasions. I have been named employee of the year within our hotel and also of the western region. I have also been supported in pursuing additional training and education, completing my Certified Chef de Cuisine in 2012. With the support and encouragement of SilverBirch, I competed in Gold Medal Plates for three consecutive years, achieving all three levels on the podium and, in 2014, I went on to compete in the Canadian Culinary Championship in Kelowna, BC.
Community involvement has always been a priority for me. I joined the CCFCC – Saskatoon Branch shortly after moving to Saskatchewan and have been actively involved with this association for approximately eight years. I’ve held many different positions with the local CCFCC Branch Executive Committee and am currently President. I was named Chef of the Year in 2013 by the CCFCC membership. For the last six years, I also have been a member of the province’s Curriculum Trade Advisory Board for Trade Cook and am now sitting on my second term as Chairman for the Trade Cook in Saskatchewan. In 2015, I spent a week in Ottawa developing the Occupational Trade Analysis for Trade Cook. That same year, I retired my chef whites in exchange for a suit and tie as I embarked on a new adventure as the F&B Director at the Radisson Hotel Saskatoon. I currently hold a shared role as F&B Director for both the Radisson Hotel Saskatoon and the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel & Conference Centre Regina.
My time with SilverBirch has been exciting and challenging and my passion to not only help others but learn and see any establishment that I can, has afforded me many opportunities. In my second year with SilverBirch, I found myself in Red Deer, AB as that property was without a chef for the Christmas season and the labour market at the time left them in dire straits. I also had the opportunity to help out in the kitchen when the Residence Inn® by Marriott Vancouver Downtown was opening. I designed menus and assisted in the launching and opening of Wild Sage at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Regina as well. Further, in 2015, I also got to play a supporting chef role at the Radisson Hotel Edmonton South.
SBHR: Walk us through ‘a day in the life’ of a Director of Food & Beverage (F&B).
TR: Being a F&B Director, I have one of the best jobs in the hotel industry. I work directly with F&B managers, chefs, as well as outlet and banquet managers. My days are spent assisting on the floor, leading and influencing policy and practice changes, and ensuring that the daily decisions that we are faced with are not only profitable but current and right for our guests and associates.
SBHR: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
TR: With food as a passion, I have always loved delivering the perfect meal and going the extra mile to ensure that every guest’s stay has that personal touch. Helping young leaders find their passion and helping them harness it to impact every guest’s stay is one of the things I find most rewarding about my job.
SBHR: Tell us one thing that most people don’t know about you.
TR: On top of my passion for food comes a passion and commitment to my roots; agriculture. I grew up in a small agricultural community and have always wanted my children to grow up in a similar setting. We currently live on a farm, shared with my brother and his family, where we raise cows, sheep, and many species of poultry including peacocks, pheasants, ducks, geese, and chickens. Last year we hatched over 1500 birds. We also have a large family garden and an orchard.
SBHR: What is the most memorable request you’ve ever received from a guest?
TR: Many years ago when I was a young chef, our hotel hosted a great musical icon, Neil Young. After checking in, he walked directly into the kitchen and asked if he could go into the fridge to get an apple. I, star struck, naturally said yes. He came into the kitchen and interacted with the staff a few times over the course of his two-day stay. I believe that he just wanted to feel at home.
SBHR: Since Valentine’s Day is coming up, we’d love to know the thought process that goes behind creating a Valentine’s Day menu; what kind of food sets the mood, if you will!
TR: Valentine’s Day is an opportunity for chefs to showcase their strengths and passion through multiple courses, and smaller and more elegant presentations of flavour first profile dishes. Careful planning is also required for the seating arrangements as our dining rooms are often not configured for couples only dining. Consequently, we try to optimize the space to accommodate as many couple settings as possible while still providing a private, intimate setting. Valentine’s Day is a night where you will often find a crisp white table cloth and the little extras that can set the mood to make the experience more personal and, of course, memorable.