Louise Tamayo is one of my favourite Sydney waiters so I was excited for her when recently she won 2010 Appetite for Excellence Young Waiter of the Year. Here, Louise takes time out with Inside Cuisine to answer a few questions.
Louise, during the judging for Appetite for Excellence Young Waiter of the Year, you went on a 5 day Hunt + Gather tour of NSW. What was your favourite part of the trip?
Despite the incredible opportunities of meeting such inspirational producers and their wonderful produce, the highlight for me was getting to know the other wonderful competitors.
It was so refreshing meeting people that were just as passionate as me. And it gives me hope that hospitality front of house will soon be given the recognition that it deserves.
What does winning this year mean to you?
It has been an affirmation of choosing the right path of following a job/career that I truly enjoyed doing as opposed to doing something the family approved of. It has also given me confidence in what I do and that hospitality is not a career that is just a revolving door. It is worthwhile and that a lot of hard work goes into what we do, that it is a
valid career option.
Do you have a wine cellar? And, a favourite wine?
No wine cellar, though I do have a few bottles at home. I do not have a favourite wine, more of a favourite region/grape variety. This slowly evolves due to the development of my palate.
At the moment I am going absolutely crazy over Burgundy. Either white or red. However at this time I am particularly fond of meursaults and puligny montrachets.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to anyone who is just starting out as a waiter?
To not be afraid to ask questions. When I started I literally had no idea about anything. Except that I loved great food. I was sooo shy as well. This industry has most certainly changed all that.
When it’s your turn to be a customer in a restaurant, what is the most important thing you look for in service?
Sincerity. Respect. Warmth.
Employees that have pride in what they do. This can translate to their fabulous knowledge of the menu and wine, their appearance, their attention to detail with their service.
Do you have a favourite style of food? Do you like to cook?
Right now I love love love vietnamese food. The fresh flavours, herbs, spices, I can go on and on.
When it comes to working I love serving French food, or food made using French technique.
I do like to cook but I am at home so little during meal times that I rarely do. And I love to eat out to check out fellow fine dining restaurants. So cooking at home can be quite rare!
What made you interested in becoming a waiter? How did that path evolve for you?
To be honest, hospitality was a means to an end. I was at university studying social work. Hospitality was a job to help me pay my way. Three-quarters through my degree I started at my first hatted restaurant Cruise (with Warren Turnbull) and it was there that I started to build a respect and love for fine food and service. When I finished my degree I decided to take a gap year to save money, maybe travel, and see how far I could go. I ended up getting a job at Quay restaurant and have not looked back since! I have been going from strength to strength.
And, what about outside of work Louise, how do you unwind?
Because hospitality does have unsociable hours, its great for me to catch up with friends. Those I have trouble seeing because my work hours are so strange. And catching up with family as well.
It keeps me grounded. And checking out new restaurants with the same people is a bonus! Its all about food food food with me really.
What do you see in the future? What are you hopes?
There are many. I do hope to become restaurant manager of the best restaurant in the country (or help the restaurant I am working in right now to achieve that status).
I would also love to have my own business. As much as I love fine dining, I wouldnt mind a cafe or wine bar.
I am also looking forward to doing stage at a Michelin star restaurant in Europe. This has also been a dream of mine, which will soon become a reality thanks to the amazing prize of winning this wonderful competition.
Congratulations and, thanks Louise!
Photos by Dom and Heath