From Bougie Kebabs to Classy Cabbage Rolls: Introducing the Track & Food Fantasy Restaurant Draft

Welcome to the Track & Food Podcast: deep dives into everything food and culture related in Vancouver and around the globe with writer, bartender, sommelier and host Jamie Mah.

This week I delve into a fantasy ‘restaurant draft’ with Vancouver restaurateur, James Iranzad, and hospitality industry veteran, James Langford-Smith.

The idea came about from two sources: The Ringer’s movie podcast, The Rewatchables (an irreverent and extremely entertaining roundtable discussing movies they can’t seem to stop watching, hosted by famed sports journalist, Bill Simmons); and the NBA’s new all star draft format, where the leading vote-getters from each conference draft their own teams for the game (done live on TNT). I imagined doing something similar with established restaurant personalities here in the city, and it just took off from there! I knew the concept would only work if I had the right cast of characters on board – people who know the industry and have a sense of humour – and James and Jimmy were natural fits.

Tune into the Track & Food Podcast to find out who is assigned to which fantasy restaurant role, and the reasoning behind it. But first, some context:

The Rules

1. We will choose at random, with the first person to go decided by pulling our names out of a hat. Whoever goes third will go first in round two. There will be ten rounds with each of us choosing ten names total.

2. Remember the goal is to draft YOUR ideal restaurant lineup. Think of what you’d want for your team. Don’t focus on what these people specifically ‘do’ in the current moment, but more so what they can offer overall. For example: in 2022 Chef Angus An may spend most of his time as a driver of company growth (and less in the kitchen), but that doesn’t mean he can’t cook. What personalities are you looking for? How do the pieces fit? What type of restaurant are you staffing? Take it seriously, but not too seriously.

THE Contenders

Tannis Ling – Owner/Bao Bei/Kissa Tanto
Karri Green-Shuermans – Owner/Chambar
Joel Watanabe – Owner/Chef/Bao Bei/Kissa Tanto
Dave Bulters – Bar Manager/L’Abattoir
J.C. Poirier – Owner/Chef/St. Lawrence
Ogi Radoicic – Gooseneck Hospitality
Ashley Kurtz – Chef/Bar Susu
Leticia Castro – Keefer Group
Jayton Paul – Wine Director/Published Angus An – Owner/Maenam/Fat Mao
Christina Hartigan – Sommelier/Annalena
Paul Grunberg – Owner/Savio Group
Connor Joseph – Bar Manager/Karma LoungePhil Scarfone – Executive Chef/Savio Group
Jeff Savage – Bar Manager/Botanist
Josh Pape – Owner/Gooseneck Hospitality
Adam Domet – Bar Manager/Pourhouse Keenan Hood – GM/Keefer Group
Amber Bruce – Bar Manager/Keefer Bar Robyn Gray – Bartender/Pac Rim Lobby
Miki Ellis – Owner/Dachi/Elephant/Hanai
Kaitlyn Stewart – Bartender/Consultant
Belinda Siu – Server/Kissa Tanto
Shira Bluestein – Owner/Acorn
Fraser Crawford – Bar Manager/Kissa Tanto
Shaun Layton – Owner/Como Taperia
Emily Vey – Bar Manager/The Diamond Satoshi Yonemori – Owner/Bartender/Grapes & Soda
Lucais Syme – Owner/Autostrada Group
Peter Van de Reep – Sommelier/Bar Gobo
Andrea Carlson – Owner/Burdock & co.
Hector Laguna – Executive Chef/Botanist Doug Stephen – Owner/DL Chicken
Gus Stieffenhofer-Brandson – Executive Chef/Published
Jenna Briscoe – GM/Café Medina
Jason Yamasaki – Wine Director – Joey Group
Kelcie Jones – Sommelier/Elephant
Vikram & Meeru Vij – Co-owners/Vij’s
Matthew Morgenstern – Co-Owner/Bacaro
Sabrine Dhaliwal – Bar Manager/Chickadee
Grant Sceney – Creative Beverage Director/Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel
Romano Castillo – Maître D/Savio Group

Wild Cards*:
Ron Oliver – Formerly of Mamie Taylor’s, PMA Reserve Ambassador
Terry Threfall – RIP, formerly of Hawksworth
Kurtis Kolt – Formerly of Salt Tasting Room, freelance wine journalist, co-founder of Top Drop
Lauren Mote – Formerly of UVA Wine & Cocktail Bar, Patron Global Ambassador
Jacob Sweetapple – Formerly of Keefer Yard, Chambar, co-founder of Notion Concepts
Chad Clark – Formerly of Hawksworth
Chen Wei-Lee – Formerly of Bao Bei, Louis XIII Ambassador
Scotty Marshall – Formerly of Mamie Taylor’s, freelance bartender
Simon Kaulback – Formerly of Mamie Taylor’s, Boneta, now works in film
Bryant Mao – Formerly of Hawksworth/Wine consultant

*Former veterans of the trade who are no longer in active restaurant roles but are still connected to the industry in some form or another.

THE CONCEPTS

TOASTIES (James Langford-Smith)
‘Toasties’ is your unforgivably loud and loveable neighbourhood joint. Come in for a cheeky pint or a glass of whatever we’re drinking, and stay for a toastie (toasted sandwich). The bar is only as good as the people who inhabit it, so don’t be a wanker!


SHEIKH SHACK (James Iranzad)
Bougie kebab shop with cheap fancy drinks.


UKRAINIAN SPACE (Jamie Mah)
Ukrainian Space is a classy joint for revellers looking to unwind after a long day. Suits and high heels, bubbles and martinis. Dim lighting, a mod 60’s vibe and delicious fare. Come for the cabbage rolls, stay for the style.


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There are 2 comments

  1. As much as I appreciate the nod, I’d prefer to have seen quite a bit more female representation than the awfully slim *16* names out of the 51 candidates you’ve put forward.

  2. Way to listen to the podcast Kurtis!! Sometimes I like to review movies I’ve never seen 🙂