293 Wallace Restaurant owner Hiro Takeda announced on Jan. 14 evening at a private event in his restaurant that he will take a step back from the restaurant around mid-May.
The move comes as Takeda will head to Copenhagen to develop his skills as a chef, specializing in fermentation, with the former head of research and development at Noma restaurant, Lars Williams.
He said he felt sad, but had no regrets.
“It’s a decision that made sense for everybody involved,” said Takeda. “It’s a decision that promoted that growth that we wanted out of everybody. In that way, no regrets.”
He will pass the reins to Brent Gillis, who will become the general manager and head chef from thereon.
Gillis said this allows him to stay in Hope and continue to work on the core values of the restaurant.
Gillis was working as a dishwasher when Takeda took over the restaurant in 2013. Asked whether he expected to become the general manager of the restaurant one day, he said he held on to wisdom from its previous owners, “Treat it like you own it, and one day you might.”
“I really held on to that,” said Gillis. “I never expected to own it, but definitely worked as if I was going to.”
He learned organization, people skills, teamwork and eventually discovered that he had a passion for leadership.
Takeda named Gillis as his prodigy, noting that he worked very meticulously in the three years they have worked together.
“From almost day one I kind of saw something special in him,” said Takeda.
“I strongly believe that all cooks should start off as dishwashers, because that's when you learn how to multitask, you learn how to organize things properly, you learn how to be efficient, but in a much more low pressure environment.
“Washing dishes, you can still see how somebody works. You can see how meticulous they are.”
In his three years here, Takeda said he will remember seeing growth in his staff, such as accomplishing things they thought they could not or having the courage to make the next steps in their lives whether they continue as chefs or otherwise.
Takeda said he will continue to be the owner of the restaurant, and will return to visit a few times a year and check up on the restaurant.
“I’ll still be around and Canada will be my home,” said Takeda.
He expects that he will spend a few years in Copenhagen doing the project.