This is Clayton Thornber, from Victoria. He is 31 years old and was born and raised in Victoria. Clayton used to play a very high level of rugby for a very long time. He played for the junior national team, the BC men’s team, the Alberta men’s team, he even played in Australia for a year and then retired in 2019. Clayton first went to school in Earth and Ocean Sciences, and then completed a degree in Hospitality Management.
Like most of us, Clayton started working in hospitality right after he graduated from high school. He worked in a kitchen at a Cactus Club and then started barbacking while he was in Australia. When he moved back to the island after his year abroad, Clayton got a job at a Keg. He started as a dishwasher and started to work his way up. It was during that time that he was studying science at UVIC. After a couple of years into the program, he realized that he didn’t want to be a scientist so he left university and continued working in hospitality. Clayton ended up staying at the Keg for nine years, working from dishwashing all the way up to management, and what he really liked most was bartending.
One day, he created a tasty gin cocktail for one of his regulars and decided to give a taste to his manager. Not only did his manager like it, but he also offered him to join in a 6 months long spirits course called Peak Bartender Program. That program was designed to teach bartenders about spirits the way sommeliers learn about wine. For each spirit, they would have an online class with a worldly expert about that specific category. They would then taste 6 different products for each spirit and really focus on understanding the subtleties and specific expressions of them all. After completing the program, Clayton became very curious about cocktails and focused on trying to find creative ways to highlight the profile of the products he was playing with.
Eventually, he went back to school in hospitality management, did his first coop with the Keg, and got to the point where he had really worked and understood every position in the business. He left the Keg to open the Courtney Room, which made it to Canada’s top 10 En Route nominations. And after a year, he got the opportunity to join the opening team of Wind Cries Mary as the bar manager. Clayton has been there since the opening in 2019 and has recently been promoted to Assistant General Manager.
For Clayton's cocktail recipe, click here.
A little bit more about Clayton...
The three words that describe him best: loyal – happy – engaging
One bottle to bring on a desert island: Santa Teresa 1726 Venezuela rum
Life motto: Every day above ground is a good one.
What he loves most about hospitality: Creating experiences. You can change somebody’s day and blow somebody’s mind with the experiences that you provide.
His advice for people that want to work their way up to management: If hospitality is what you want to do and where you really want to be, management is the next step to be able to create those experiences that you want. Because you can actually influence the staff, you can put systems in place, you can actually put your input. And you can be the person that’s driving those standards in a way.