Thursday, April 7, 2011
From Bartending and Waiting on Tables To Traveling the World
Well here is my story…..
I was a shipper receiver and truck driver in a pharmaceutical company and after having gone from job to job to job from the time I was 18 to 21 years of age probably about 20 to 30 of them I came to the conclusion that I was not happy doing what I was doing in my work life.
Later on I was to learn that doing something over and over again expecting the same results was the definition of insanity but while I did not know that at such a young age I still knew that when I saw an ad for a bartender course that this was my ticket to something different.
I loved it immediately. It was one night a week learning and mixing all the beverages you could think of. I even bought the alcohol to practice at home making drinks for my mother. During the course I met someone who was a manager at a pub restaurant and he hired me immediately thereafter. Just goes to show you that you get to know people who will get you to the next step to where you want to go.
Although that job was short lived as he sold out and the other person laid me off I then afterwards went to Toronto where I got a service bartender position at a name brand hotel. I had worked in Toronto before in a factory but kept in touch with someone who was working in hotels at the time. After two weeks he called me where he was working and I was hired as a Bar Manager in a private golf club.
So with only about a month bartending experience I was already a Bar Manager!
The next couple of years I went to and fro working a few different places learning the bartending trade as I went along.
After about 4 years in the industry I took a Home Study Course in Hotel Motel Restaurant Management while I was a Bar Manager in Montreal. I jumped back and forth at the time between Montreal and Toronto.
I was 26 years old and had an apartment but I was wondering if this was it and if I was ready to stay in one place and settle. For those of you wondering the same thing if you are not ready to settle , don’t !
As soon as I received my diploma I decided I was going to work on a cruise ship as a bartender. As it was the pre-internet era I walked into a travel agency and asked for their directory and wrote down all the cruise ship addresses to send my resume to for employment.
While at work one day I got a call to work on the largest cruise ship in the world at the time the SS Norway out of Miami. I jumped at it and gave my two weeks notice and days after that was in Miami embarking on the big ship. It lasted two months only. I lost a lot of weight and for me it was a not so great experience as ship life is different from working on land. But if you do not try you will not have that experience to learn from either and later on this experience would prove invaluable.
I returned to Montreal not knowing whether I should just settle down now or try something along a similar line. I decided I was going to learn French so went to French school for 6 months. While there I met this person who said why don’t you work in Switzerland known for hotel work through an exchange between Canada and Switzerland. I applied and was accepted and proceeded to send out 52 resumes to the French speaking area. I received 26 replies and one of them was a yes.
When I was 29 and 30 years old I spent 2 beautiful years in Switzerland. I travelled all over Switzerland , saw most of France , Italy , Germany , and Austria. Got experience as Assistant Food and Beverage Manager.
During my last year there I went to one interview for a new Cruise Ship that was just starting that year. My contract in Switzerland conflicted with that so I was not able to start on this new opportunity.
After my stint in Switzerland headed back to Canada then went off to England to work as a Restaurant Manager. Still more experience and seeing the world.
I was in England for a year then headed back home when I went out to work in the Canadian Rockies for a year. In this time I became a waiter and after the restaurant closed for the season began looking for work abroad once again. This time I was selective in my choice for cruise ships and sent my resume only to the smaller ones. Do you remember that interview in Switzerland I had while I was there? Well they called me up and for the next 4 years I went to Asia , Africa , the Caribbean , Mediterranean , Indian Ocean , Scandinavia and Russia.
As well as just going to these places I have seen the pyramids in Cairo , the lost city of Petra in Jordan , Jerusalem and Bethlehem , bungeed jumped in Phuket Thailand , been in the outdoor cafes of Sorrento and Monte Carlo , on my birthday in Indonesia been given a tour of Udjung Pandang in a rickshaw. Visited museums and zoos in exotic places.
Yes I even met my wife from Iceland on the ship as well.
I participated in the cruise show every week singing my rendition of My Way by Frank Sinatra and Singin in the Rain by Gene Kelly. I have the videos to prove it!
I have served such celebrities as Pierre Elliot Trudeau at a private party , Prince Philip in Switzerland one time, the oldest survivor of the Titanic at the time , the King of Sweden and the Momma and Poppas albeit without the original Mamma Cass on the SS Norway for a week. Even was invited for a sing along in their cabin the last night of the voyage.
All this came about from a 15 hour Bartending Course taken years earlier. Later on I received my Sommelier Diploma. Who would have thought an average guy like myself would be so fortunate to have such tremendous experiences. All I had to do is think about what type of life I wanted and find out the way to get it. Trust your own intuition and never dismiss anything as being insignificant. That one thought could change everything.
There is my story...
Radio talk show host of "The Hospitality Industry News Network" and author of "You Only Live Once" about his early years traveling around and working on ships and foreign countries Steven blogs about his thoughts on the restaurant industry as he sees it today.
Check out his web site at www.stevennicolle.com for more information.