This is Julie Lacasse.
Julie is 26 years old and grew up in a little village called St-Augustin-de-Desmaures, located near Quebec City. She lived in Quebec City for a few years before she moved to Montreal a little over one year ago.
Julie started to work in the hospitality industry almost 11 years ago. Her first job was at a Tim Hortons, where she learned how to be on time and how to work with a team. Eventually, she worked her way up in the industry and became a server in a restaurant. This is when her passion for gastronomy and wines was sparked. It was also the moment she decided to go study to be a sommelier.
Her motivations to study wines were a mix of pride and curiosity. She didn’t like being confronted to the fact that some of her guests actually knew more than her about what they liked or not, plus that sometimes she didn’t have the answers for them. On the other hand, she wanted to understand the logics of food and wine pairing. Her workmates encouraged her to take the course and she did.
A part of her course was about spirits and when she obtained her diploma, the restaurant she was working at gave her carte blanche to create the cocktail menu. She started playing with ingredients and learning how to create cocktails. She would post some of her work on social media and one day, Vincent Thuaud* (owner of some of Quebec’s city most reputable cocktail bars) approached her. He had been following her work and offered her to join the team at Chez Tao.
She never had a mentor so working for him was a great learning opportunity. She took it and worked there for a year until she was offered a job by Manu Ruiz at her Montreal’s favourite cocktail bar, Le Royal. She accepted the offer, left Quebec City and moved to Montreal. This moment was when she realized that cocktails were what she really wanted to do as a professional choice. Manu Ruiz is someone she has a lot of respect for. The fact that he approached her made her realize that she actually had value for the Montreal bigger cocktail scene. From that moment on, she really dived in the cocktail world.
Today, Julie is in charge of the bar program at Chifa, a restaurant located in Montreal downtown. Everyone does a little bit of everything over there, so she is learning many new cooking techniques that she can apply to her mixology skills. It takes her out of a fixed routine which she particularly enjoys.
Overall, Julie is a very energetic and active member of our community. She gets involved in cocktail competitions, is present in most events that she can and definitely takes the time to go around her favourite bars to support bartenders. Her smile is contagious and her creativity continues to impress us. We highly suggest you keep an eye out for this one as her future promises to shine.
A little bit more about…
One thing she has yet to achieve on her life bucket-list: To go work in another country.
One thing she has achieved on her life bucket-list: She treated herself a solo trip to Oaxaca to visit distilleries and understand how mezcal is made. Given her love for agave based spirits, it was something she had been wanting to do for a long time and she did it for herself, by herself.
Most magical place she ever visited: Chefchaouene in northern Morocco. It’s a small medina with all its houses and streets painted in blue. She went for a hike next in the mountains surrounding it. Her friends and her encountered a hashish farm and were invited to nibble on Moroccan olives and fresh cheeses while observing the medina from a far distance above.
An advice she offers to younger bartenders: To stay humble, to always actualize your knowledge and to help each other learn and share what you know with others. The more we share our knowledge, the more our community as a whole can benefit from it and shine.
The beauty and the strength of our community: Its people. (That was the moment in the interview where Mel Aumais and Pierre-Hughe Marois spontaneously met us in the vineyard at l’Ile D’Orléans to share a bottle of wine and have a quick apéro before all of us went separate ways) That’s what our community is about. People that help each other and care.