This is Evelyn Chick, from Toronto.
Evelyn is 32 years old and was born in Hong Kong. She grew up in Vancouver and moved to Toronto about five years ago. She did a Bachelor of Arts at UBC back when she still lived in Vancouver and did her WSET and CSS (Certified Spirits Specialist) afterward. From being a very young bar manager at age 21 to now working for herself with EC Projects while being the Beverage Director for the Donnelly Group in Toronto, Evelyn has an impressive career path.
It all started when she was studying at UBC. She had been working in retail for a long time and wanted to explore different job opportunities to pay for her university lifestyle. Her first job was as a hostess in a Cactus Club. From there, she got a ton of different jobs and eventually found her way to cocktails while working at the Granville Room. Her bar manager was Trevor Kallies, who is a CAP leader and president of the BC CPBA, and he signed her up for her first cocktail competition. From there on, she started to study classic cocktails. Then she won a trip for the Bourbon Trail and that’s what started her drive to learn everything after. Eventually, Evelyn got a job as the bar manager at UVA when she was only 21 years old. It was during the cocktail resurgence in Vancouver, Speedrack Canada was happening for the first time, and everything sort of came all together to perpetuate her interest in cocktails. After UVA, Evelyn explored fine dining at Blue Water which is an institution in Vancouver. And after working there for four years and leaving as the bar manager, she felt like she hit the ceiling and that’s when she moved to Toronto.
In Toronto, Evelyn was hired as the bar manager at the Hubbard Room, which at that point was a significant space in the city’s cocktail scene. Being new to the city, working there allowed her to make a lot of connections and to grow her network. Within a couple of years, she took over the operations for Speedrack Canada and got very involved in the community. Eventually, she got approached to open Pretty Ugly. She worked there for 4 years until she started to feel like she hit the ceiling again. That’s when the opportunity to be a beverage director for the Donnelly Group got presented to her. Ready for a new challenge, she accepted. Around the same time, she started EC Projects, her own freelance and consulting business. EC Projects is a platform and sort of a landing page for everything that she does in terms of consulting, designing, styling, education, and more. In simple words, it’s “a creative hub for all drink enthusiasts”. Evelyn needed a venue to learn about operations but also needed her creative outlet to be at the back of her mind, so she did a split with what she needed to learn from opening her own business and being part of a corporation.
Overall, Evelyn is not only very accomplished in her career, but also one of the most active members of our community. She runs the operations for Speed Rack Canada, she works for Tales of the Cocktails as the spirited-award co-chair for Canada, and she does a lot more than I could write in such a short article. Most importantly, she firmly believes in sharing the resources that she can have access to. A lot of the work that she does comes from what she naturally thinks will benefit others and often revolves around education. She is an inspiration for us and we hope that learning about her path will inspire you in turn.
A little bit more about Evelyn...
The three words that describe her best: motivated – intense – caring
Life moto: You just got to trust your gut and go.
Something she hasn’t done on her life to-do list: She never visited Spain.
Advice that you offer younger bartenders: Don’t run, walk. Whatever goal you want to reach you’ll get there, but anything that has to do with basic whether it has to do with your technique, your knowledge, guest relations skills takes the longest to develop, and once you have that as a backbone everything else will come.
The biggest lesson that her job taught her: You have to remember that you’re in a people business and that there are so many things, especially during this pandemic, that we think we fuss about previously and it just doesn’t make sense anymore. So much of hospitality is about providing an alternate and safe space for people to enjoy, whether or not it be making sure that your staff is well taken care of or your guests or the environment is taken care of, it’s so much about that and I would say maybe 20% is about what you’re actually offering. So I think a lot of the creative type gets really lost in the creation of things and then they forget that ultimately for a business to survive is actually all about the people.