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Tyler Alden was recently named the wine director and restaurant outlets manager of Willows Lodge.
1. What are you looking forward to the most in your new role?
I’m looking forward to taking what is already a great wine program at Willows Lodge and Barking Frog, and striving to elevate it even further. We have an outstanding F&B program here at Willows, and I will continue to focus on highlighting the best Northwest wines as well as classics from around the world. I am thrilled to be working with Executive Chef Bobby Moore and his team to create innovative food and wine synergies.
2. How do you think past experiences have prepared you for this role?
Throughout my restaurant career I’ve had the pleasure of working with a lot of Pacific Northwest regional cuisine. At Wild Ginger, I had the unique challenge of pairing wines with complex spices from around the world. At Purple Cafe, we paired wine with every dish on the menu. In addition, my experience studying and working with the Court of Master Sommeliers and the Cicerone program has given me a solid foundation for both guest service and food and beverage pairing. Finally, as education & training director for a multi-restaurant group, I was responsible for developing our staff and making sure that we are as knowledgeable as can be. I’m excited to use this experience to grow our staff’s already amazing knowledge of wine and service standards to enhance our guests’ enjoyment every time they dine with us.
3. How did you get into the industry?
If I’m honest, I fell into the industry because I needed a job out of high school and to put myself through college. I turned down a Starbucks Barista position and got my first restaurant job and didn’t look back. I worked nights and weekends while studying music and attending UW Foster School of Business. Once I graduated, I knew I loved the restaurant culture, and that is where I have been ever since.
4. What do you enjoy most about the industry?
What I like most about the industry is that we, as service professionals, have an opportunity to improve someone’s day every time they come into our restaurant. We make something special happen for them around that table, give them a respite from the grind of the outside world, and create truly special moments for people. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing guests in the restaurants smiling, happy, and toasting to a shared moment together.