The following are responses from Laniel Smith, a 2006 graduate of Hospitality and Tourism Management.
Where do you work and what’s your current position?
I’m the owner of Marion Street Eatery.
What are some career steps you’ve taken since graduating from Red River College?
I have never gone a day of my working life without working within the service industry. I’ve worn many hats within the industry starting as a line cook and dishwasher at the local ski hill. I grew up in the service industry as my family has owned and operated the Marion Hotel since 1984.
I am a graduate of the Hospitality and Tourism Management program, 2006. Throughout my time at the College, I competed in the Canadian Skills completion for two years placing third at the 13th annual Canadian Skills competition (volunteered for two years after graduating).
First co-op, and where I continued to work throughout my time at the College, was at Amici/Bombellini/Amici catering where I gained knowledge in the fine dining experience – here I was restaurant busser and dishwasher, catering server and assistant to a server.
After graduation I went on to work at Bergmanns on Lombard which specializes in serving the finest food catering experiences and event planning. I started as banquet server setting up and serving private events eventually moving into a lead role as front of House manager. This position taught me how to offer guests the hospitality experience and gave me the opportunity to work alongside the incredibly talented David Bergmann and his culinary team to create unique and memorable dining experiences.
Afterwards, I took to my current and most rewarding role in the family business at the Marion Hotel in 2011.
In 2014, I had the opportunity to pursue one of my ultimate life goals of opening a restaurant – an achievement I still am grateful to get to enjoy everyday. The Marion Street Eatery – a neighbourhood food spot serving up good food made simple. The eatery was opened alongside my most cherished friend, business partner, Red River College Culinary Arts grad and now RRC School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts instructor Melissa Hryb.
In 2018, we recently appointed past RRC graduates Camila Gamboa and Hayley McMurray to operate and run the Eatery. I have since chosen to take on a larger role as General Manager of the Marion Hotel (where I learn something new everyday). The Marion Hotel is a local institution and community hotel which I operate alongside my sister Milanne, graduate of the RRC Business Development program, and father Doug.
What’s a highlight of your professional life after graduation?
The highlight of my post graduate career lies in the eyes of our employees and our regular customers at the Hotel and Eatery. I love developing and building relationships, I love good food and I love making people happy. This community continues to ignite my passion for the industry.
I am a proud member of Manitoba’s hospitality industry. The RRC Hospitality and Tourism program has made an impact on my life – the skills I learnt and the connections I made gave me the confidence to take on and make a mark on my own personal career. The College gave me confidence through knowledge and it taught me that my own dedication is my own destiny. The College taught me to set high standards for myself, and to those I employ, and taught me to bring true professionalism to my endeavours.
How did your time at Red River College help you achieve your goals?
Since graduating, I continue to challenge myself through personal and professional development programs and lots of community involvement. I choose to always stay connected and to stay involved – I will forever be thankful to Red River College as they gave me my foundation and I am now responsible for its success.
I will continue to be passionate, I will continue to work hard and to empower those within our industry. I will continue to be creative, different and unique and I believe that great things start at Red River College.