This is Mélanie Aumais.
Mel is 29 years old and grew up in Montreal. She has one sister, a half-brother, and a half-sister on her mom’s side, and another half-brother and half-sister on her dad’s side. She speaks French, English, and a little Spanish and studied Restaurant Management at ITHQ.
Mel started to work in the hospitality industry at an ice cream shop on the West Island 10 years ago and is now one of the most prominent figures in the Montreal cocktail scene. Here’s the story of how it happened.
Mel heard about ITHQ when one of her colleagues, back when she was working at a Mcdonald's, told her he was applying there. She looked it up and decided to go study Restaurant Management. She thought she was going to learn how to manage a kitchen and had quite a surprise when she found herself learning how to cut carrots and onions! Just before she was about to leave for her stage in France, one of her teachers invited the class to try cocktails at Le Lab.
She remembers how amazed she was when she walked into this dark, unknown, and mysterious cocktail bar. When she came back from France, she mostly got jobs in restaurant management. She reminds us that back in the days, if you were a girl and wanted to work behind a bar, you had to fit into very precise physical appearance requirements, no matter how much knowledge you had.
Mel worked in kitchens, which she enjoyed but was missing human interaction. She then worked as a waitress, where she likes interacting with guests but was a little bored carrying plates all night. When she started to bartend, she realized that it was the perfect mix of both worlds.
Today, Mel has worked at some of Canada’s most prestigious cocktail bars including Isabelle, Bar Raval, Cloakroom, and Stillife, where she was the general manager up until recently. She is also a very active and involved figure in the Montreal cocktail scene. She was referred to as an inspiration by many people we interviewed in this project and is definitely one of the most talented and knowledgeable people in our industry today.
A little bit more about Melanie...
The three words that describe her best: spontaneous – dedicated – intense
The most magical place she ever visited: Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca. Huge waterfalls very high in the mountains with lots of small natural small pools.
Fun fact about Mel: She hates long pastas. She loves pasta in general, just not the long ones like spaghetti or linguini.
A piece of advice she offers to younger bartenders: Don’t rush into things. Take your time, learn your basics, don’t rush into things.
The biggest lesson her job taught her: Since she pretty much started as a manager before she was a bartender, at some point in her career she went to Toronto, took a step back from management, and observed how other people were managing. This is how she understood that sometimes, letting other people shine is the best way to move forward. That is something she would have never done in her first years as a manager.