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It’s no secret that we LOVE food at Virtual High School. Luckily, our administrative building is situated in the beautiful town of Bayfield, Ontario, where we have access to amazing restaurants and even better hospitality. This month, we were fortunate enough to get the opportunity to interview Andrew McIntosh, the co-owner and head chef at the Black Dog Village Pub & Bistro!

After high school, Andrew attended George Brown College to study food and beverage management. As a student, he worked in the kitchen at Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital and then quickly moved into a full-time position there. In 2006, Andrew moved to Bayfield to work at the Black Dog and eventually purchased the restaurant alongside his business partner in June of 2020. Taking such a big leap during a pandemic has been no easy feat, but we’re thrilled to say that Andrew and his wonderful team have continued to serve tens of thousands of happy customers (including all of us at VHS).

Let’s take a sneak peek at some of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into running a restaurant!

What are your current responsibilities within your role?

  • Developing menus
  • Ordering, costing, preparing, and cooking food
  • Customer service
  • Bookkeeping
  • Event planning
  • Social media
  • Human resources

Restaurant and business ownership in general require a person to wear many hats!

Why did you choose this line of work?

I chose the hospitality industry because it is challenging, and I get the opportunity to play many different roles. I enjoy providing a great dining experience and being a part of people’s celebrations. I get the chance to be creative and take inspiration from many places. It is fun to develop a seasonal menu and tweak dishes until they are ready. I get to be analytical and exercise my problem-solving skills daily. Every day at work is different. There are new challenges and triumphs.

Also, I really love food! Locally in the Bayfield area, we have some great food and beverage producers to showcase.

Who has been your greatest role model?

In the kitchen, Robert Whyte, a great chef and friend I worked alongside during my early years at The Black Dog. He taught me the importance of patience when teaching young people new skills and the direct impact a person can have on another in a mentorship position.

What obstacles or challenges have you faced in your role?

Business forecasting is a challenge for sure. When running a restaurant, forecasting under normal circumstances is hard because there are many variables, such as fluctuating food and beverage costs and weather (e.g. will the patio be open?). With COVID over the last few years, restrictions and supply chain disruptions made it even more difficult. On a personal level, finding a work-life balance and missing events with loved ones can be difficult.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

Helping people celebrate life and milestones (e.g. birthdays, weddings, holidays, etc.) is the most rewarding aspect. It has also been rewarding to see staff grow from teenagers into adults over the years.

Do you have any advice for people looking to get into this field?

Work in a variety of restaurants for people willing to teach you things. Be open-minded, and do not let your ego get the best of you.

Do you have any tips for overcoming self-doubt?

Be confident in your abilities, and don’t be afraid to try new things. Sometimes taking a chance can result in a delicious accident.

What are you looking forward to in your career this year?

As a relatively new restaurant owner, I look forward to running the restaurant without some of the restrictions and challenges that we have faced during the last two years with the pandemic. I also always look forward to meeting and training new staff and coming up with new menu ideas.