Name: Billy Schifke
1. Where are you from?
2. Where do you currently work?
A medical clinic
3. How long have you been in the culinary industry?
I have not worked in the restaurant industry. I am a medical doctor (general practitioner).
4. If you could work with any other Chef in the world for one night who would it be?
Alton Brown. I dig his style and like learning “life hacks” for the kitchen.
5. If you could visit any restaurant in the world where would it be?
6. Who is your mentor, if you have one?
Marc Tessier was one of the earliest guys who took a lot of questions from me when I was starting out.
7. Why do you feel MADE WITH LOVE, as a cocktail competition, is important for the Industry in Winnipeg?
I think it’s important for people in the industry to get together and bounce ideas off each other. It’s fun trying something different others in the city maybe haven’t thought of. Additionally, it can be important to learn from ideas others have. It’s also fun to see how receptive guests are to those ideas throughout the evening.
8. What is the skill you look for in a competitor when you are judging?
1) Proper stirring or shaking technique
2) Ability to achieve a good balance of flavors
3) Proper dilution of the drink. Proper dilution is possibly the hardest because ice warms up as it sits in buckets through the evening instead of a freezer.
9. What is the most impressive thing you have ever seen a bartender do?
My wife and I were at the Tavern Law’s Needle and Thread (Seattle) and the bartender did not have a menu. Guests had to describe the drink they wanted to the server (ie. spirit forward, sweet, bitter, etc) and the bartender would make something on the fly. I was really impressed how creative some of the drinks were while always being balanced and not too “busy” with excessive ingredients.
10. What’s the most frequent error competitors do in a competition?
Overcomplicating a drink. It’s important to keep it simple. Sometimes you can have too many ideas you want to put into one drink and it makes everything taste cluttered. It’s not a bad idea to try to have 1 great idea (an interesting bitters, cordial, etc) and everything added after that should be meant to highlight the spirit with that 1 great idea.
11. What’s the biggest challenge a judge has?
Putting aside personal taste preferences. Cocktails have a level of subjectivity to them and you can’t always say “What would I drink again?” because my taste buds are not the same as someone else’s. I can’t stand caesar’s, but I know lots of people who love them so it’s important to judge someone fairly despite personal preferences.
12. What is the most precious advice you could give to a competitor?
Have fun. Try to experiment with something that makes you feel excited when you picture yourself serving it to a few hundred guests.