Jul 1, 2006 | Marmot, Summer 2006

Tim Defert, In Profile

Mount Washington Food and Beverage Manager Tim Defert has had his learning year. Now he's getting down to business.

Defert joined the management team last September. He says it’s one of the best management teams he’s ever worked for.

“It’s a great organization, with a great atmosphere and a great management team to work with,” he said. Defert kept change to a minimum as he headed into his first winter season.

“This year we’ll have some operational changes,” he said. Defert’s department is important to the success of Mount Washington, and he takes his job seriously. “I think it’s a key component (at the Resort). It touches almost all the guests on the mountain and it can really make or break a customer’s experience.

“They could have the greatest day skiing, but a cold cup of coffee is enough to ruin it,” he said. Every year staff tries to improve on food and beverage service at the Resort. While the winter sees around 200 staff members, the summer kitchen usually employs 30-50.

“Summer is a huge area for growth,” Defert acknowledged. “There’s still room for winter. We’re not done there yet.”
The catering department is busy, with weddings booked into 2007. Catering Manager Rob Robertson has provided stability to this particular department, and that has opened up opportunities to cater to conferences and corporate events.

Defert began his food and beverage career in the kitchen. It’s still one of his favourite places to be. Although he cooks at home, “I’m not a very good gourmet cook,” Defert admits.

His favourite type of food is Italian. And just like Alfredo Yabut left his mark at Mount Washington with his penchant for Chinese food, some of Defert’s choices are influenced by his passion for pasta.

He intends to rebrand Fireweeds this year, opening it up for breakfast in the summer and as a place of pizza, pasta and prime rib by next winter.

Fireweeds has usually been used for the grocery store in the summer, but that is changing this year. Altitudes will now absorb the grocery business and the restaurant will operate as a restaurant.

Fat Teddy’s – which used to be open for breakfast – will continue to serve lunch and dinner in the summer, and Fireweeds will hopefully add patio seating. Starbucks will be back in Fireweeds this summer – a no-brainer, he said, since it was so popular in the winter. They’ve also bought a high-performance cappuccino machine to keep the speed up.

Beaver Tails, which was successful when it was located beside Mountain Tek in the winter, will be moved to a different location near the Alpine Lodge. And Defert is trying to organize a food kiosk by the Hawk chairlift in time for mountain bike season (or winter for sure).

“If you come to the Hawk, you don’t have to go all the way to the main lodge to get a hot chocolate,” he said.

Despite spending five years managing two resorts for Oak Bay Marine Group (one resort in the Bahamas for two years and Painter’s Lodge in Campbell River for three years) Defert is happy where he is.

“It’s definitely not an easy job. You’re dealing with a large base of staff that’s ever changing. Because there’s great support from other management team members like Don Sharpe and Peter Gibson, it does make it easier to work.”

Defert said when he returned to the Island he knew he would one day work at Mount Washington. His wife Simone spent six years working in the food and beverage department as well as the kids’ centre, and constantly raved about the experience. “Which is one of the reasons I knew I wanted to work there,” Defert said.

He and Simone have settled in their home in Campbell River with children Gracie, 4, and Ava, seven months.

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