Christina Veira, Bartender and Humanitarian

Christina Veira, Bartender and Humanitarian

Christina is a humanitarian who volunteers and fundraises for Nellie’s women’s shelter, and a bartender at Superpoint, Apt. 200 and La Banane in Toronto.

What is your morning routine?

I wake up and read for an hour: I check news sites, blogs, and then my email. I usually get a coffee from Early Bird or Sam James Coffee Bar and then go from there.

Tell us about your career path.

I began working at restaurants when I was in university and had just moved away from home. I found restaurants to be more flexible with my schedule, and as a bonus I would always get a free meal. After working at a few take-out places at the Toronto Harbourfront, I started as an outdoor hostess at a Theatre District tourist trap. It was there I learned that I actually loved the restaurant business, but also that I needed a challenge. After working my way up to server/bartender and doing some accounting at that place, I applied for a job at Lee. I eventually became manager, but I was way too young for the pressure.

After that I found myself drawn to smaller, more intimate restaurants. I was at Grace and Cowbell when I met Adrian Ravinsky, who was in the process of opening 416 Snack Bar. I started working there part-time, and while I swore I’d never do management again, it eventually grew into an amazing position. I left in January to pursue new areas of professional growth. Currently, that focus involves importing products and making connections in the bartending community through competitions, events, and working with brands and seminars.

With Nellie’s, I was trying to figure out what made me happy before I became a workaholic. One thing I always did throughout high school and university was volunteer. I started reaching out to a bunch of shelters and Nellie’s was one of the best and most flexible to work with.

What challenges do you or women face in your industry?

I’m not new to bartending, but I am new to the mixology scene, which is very male-dominant and lacks diversity. It’s a weird industry where you can make a lot more money at a nightclub, but when transitioning from those jobs to serious cocktail bars, your work experience is often viewed poorly. There’s a bit of an issue with women not being taken seriously or not having the opportunity to train for those jobs.

What advice would you give to young girls who want to be the NEXT you?

For restaurants and bars in general, the best thing you can do – besides paying for courses or working with the best people – is find ways to work on your palette in your spare time. When you go out, it’s as simple as paying attention to flavours and why you like them. Wine training also helps with cocktails. When I taste a wine, or even a spirit or a beer, I think of it as a food item and that’s how I get my “taste notes.”

How do you balance work life from your personal life?

I try to keep a certain number of friends who don’t work in the industry. Right now I’m probably at half and half. I work a lot of nights until 4 a.m., and I start work at 3 p.m. or 4 p.m., so it’s hard to maintain a relationship with people who work 9 to 5. I still like going out for dinner and drinks, but now I try to do more activities that revolve around new food or restaurants. I’ve tried activities that aren’t work-related, and they all blend together. Being active helps too, especially when you work late nights and never see the sun.

What inspires you?

I’m very curious, I like to read and write, and I love making the people around me happier. The thing I love about serving or bartending is whenever people come into the restaurant, they’re trusting you to make one part of their day easier. I grew up in the church, and that’s what I like about Nellie’s. One of my favourite things to drop off at the shelter is cosmetics. When people talk about shelters and homelessness, they forget there are many other things that make people happy in life besides the bare necessities. These women still want something nice, or to look good, or to have a nice birthday cake.


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