WHAT WOULD YOU EXPECT from someone in Public Relations? Great smile, great people skills, and the ability to organise multiple spreadsheets a minute? Yes, to all the above. But ask Kim Montgomery-Rawlings, and she’ll add one more to the checklist: Never think you’re too good to take out the trash.
The Toronto-based PR extraordinaire-turned-restaurateur recalls past incidents where interns would come in eager to gain experience, only to back out when asked to bar-back and arrange tables.
“They were mostly looking for experience in running events, yet only wanted to sit and work from an office,” says Montgomery. “How would you be able to organise and plan an event if you never actually ran them?”
These days, the mother of three has swapped her high heels in favour of more practical sneakers, working alongside her husband — chef-owner Guy Rawlings —to run Canadian restaurant, Montgomery’s. The couple are big on using local Canadian produce, turning the ingredients into delectable bites like griddled mackerel with salted stone fruit, and sunchokes with pickled ramp (local wild onions).
Keyyes speaks to Montgomery about life in sneakers instead of heels.
How did you find yourself working side by side with your husband, running Montgomery’s?
Guy has always been a chef, with a dream of having his own restaurant. My background has always been in PR and event management. I love bringing people into a space to celebrate something.
So, it just made sense that one of our goals would be to open a restaurant together.
What’s the best thing about working with your other half?
I like that if we ever need a hug, we can steal one from each other. I admire watching him be creative, when we both share ideas, and tasting things that brings back sweet memories.
On the flip side, what’s the challenge?
It’s hard to maintain professional boundaries when you’re exhausted. Also, Guy works from noon to midnight, while I work from morning to early evening. That means we don’t get to see each other very often, and we sometimes have to mix family and work discussions.
How do you get around that?
We set family meetings. Making schedules and really making time.
We’ll sometimes close the restaurant for one extra day just so we can spend time with the family. It might be inconvenient for some guests, but we realised that it’s much more valuable for our sanity and for our children’s sake.
Tell me more about the work you do to prevent food wastage.
Get up. Participate. Guy and I try our best to make decisions for a small business that we can be proud of. That’s why we only use Canadian produce, and we do our best to turn even the scraps into something tasty. Our plating is kept simple. If you put all that extra fluff on, everyone’s usually pushing that aside to eat the main stuff anyway, and then you end up throwing away the frills. What’s the point of that?
What’s a useful skill you’ve picked up?
Being able to use the tools in a standard tool box. It’s a skill I highly recommend — especially knowing how to use a power drill.
It’s extremely useful to be able to build or repair something on the fly without having to ask or pay for someone else to do it.
Your idea of a perfect dinner date?
My husband and I sitting side by side, feeding each other. On the menu — grilled cheese sandwiches made with Guy’s homemade bread, lots of cheddar cheese, lots of butter, and some hot sauce and ketchup on the side to dip.
The best way to deal with challenges in life is to…
Take a deep breath. Think it through before reacting.
What would you tell your 20-year-old self?
Don’t spend so much money going out. Put it towards some better use; save your money for other things. Use it for your family and future. Travel more, see the world.