Friday, May 9, 2008

My (other) big brother

I was born in 1958, the middle son in a family of 3 boys, and four girls. As a child growing up, my oldest brother Bill seemed like an all round "Wally Cleaver" kind of guy. He was good at sports, popular with the ladies and good looking. I guess my younger brother John was a little like "the Beav", a nice guy with a real charm about him, with Wally looking out for him. Even though there were more years between John and Bill, they seemed to bond. When we were old enough to play tennis, John and Bill would team up against me and my dad. I wasn't much of a tennis player, and as a result got the odd ball to the back of the neck when I missed a shot at the net, so I tended to try to avoid these outings. I preferred hanging out with my friend Paul Casely at his grandmas house where we'd watch TV, eat toast with butter, and wrestle. In my early days, I guess I was a bit of a loaner, I used to play down by the river and out by the pond - I loved the mud, and I loved the water. For the most part, I think I was a happy child - one of my nicknames was "the lightbulb" - I didn't mind that so much, but later on when I earned the handle, "Bozzo the clown" - I think I may have started to get a little more serious. I was a joiner - an altar boy, a cub scout, boy scout, and venturer, and later on became a bit of a nerd, starting a school store, a bit of acting, I loved working behind the scenes with the lighting crew in junior high, and ran for student council. Fast forward to seven years ago when Christopher Ennew joined our team at Ste. Anne's as a sous chef. I had noticed this very tall quite guy working away in the back of the kitchen on his mise en place. It wasn't long before he was promoted to Executive Chef and today, in my estimation, he is one of the finest spa chefs in Canada. Through my involvement with Ontario's Finest Inns I got to know industry icon John Egan, owner of Eganridge Inn & Spa. John is a real gentleman and a sort of senior statesman to our association and to the industry. While visiting John at his inn one day I noticed a real bond, a friendship between John and his chef. In hindsight, I guess this one of many pearls of wisdom that John passed on to me - in this business, your chef should not only be one of your most treasured and valued employees, they should be one of your best friends. Over the years Christopher and I have gotten to know each other pretty well. He accepts me for who I am, and I have tremendous respect for him. Sometimes I'll be in the kitchen chatting with the team, and Chef Christopher will step up behind me and start massaging my shoulders with his big strong hands. He hasn't had an easy life, but he sure has brought light into the lives of many people. He has become a great friend to me, and in some respects the big brother that I missed growing up. And it goes without saying that he has also become one of the pillars that supports the work that we do here at Ste. Anne's Spa. As I read through guest surveys, rarely does someone review a stay at the spa without mentioning the great food, and quite often they will also mention having met this culinary giant. This guy is golden.

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