Davey McDonald of popular Wellington eatery Ortega Fish Shack & Bar has been awarded Outstanding Maitre’d of the Year at The Capital Awards this week while his restaurant Ortega Fish Shack & Bar took out the title for Outstanding Front of House.
The Capital Awards are one of the most highly anticipated awards in the sector with nominations and voting only open to hospitality industry workers.
“Winning an award that you have been nominated for by your peers is always extra special. It is a nod from the people you respect and who really understand the pressure and challenges of the hospitality industry,” says McDonald.
McDonald is not new to the winners circle. In 2013 he won the “Capital Times Readers Poll” for Best Front of House. He is also a partner in Ortega Fish Shack & Bar which has won many awards in its five years of operation, including 2014 Runner up Best Specialist Restaurant at NZ Good Food Awards by Cuisine Magazine. The restaurant was also recently named in a book of ‘1001 Restaurants you must experience before you die’.
McDonald says the secret to being a good maitre’d, is a love of meeting people.
“I love talking to people about two of my big passions in life – food and drink – I also get a real kick hearing about the many fascinating stories people have. We are really lucky, we have so many regular customers at Ortega so it often feels much more like catching up with good friends who have popped in for a chat than working as a maitre’d’,” he says.
McDonald has been working full time in hospitality since 2001 when he came on board as a waiter at Roxburgh Bistro and Café Bastille, owned by Mark and Helen Limacher.
In 2003, he was made restaurant manager/maitre’d of Café Bastille and in 2006 headed off to Australia with his wife Anna Limacher, (daughter of Mark and Helen), to work at one of Australia’s best seafood restaurants – Garfish.
In 2008 he returned to Wellington where he honed his wine skills, achieving distinction in the International Wine & Spirit Education exams, while also managing the independent cult Wellington wine retailer – Wineseeker.
In 2009 Mark and Helen Limacher went into partnership with Davey and Anna McDonald opening Ortega Fish Shack & Bar.
With more than 10 years working in hospitality, McDonald says he still finds his job just as rewarding.
“One of the best things about being a Maitre’d is adding to someone’s night-out by enriching their overall experience. Whether it’s getting the door for them when they leave or just saying thanks for coming in. Everyone is different and everyone has different experiences in life which makes up different wants and expectations with service – trying to look after people as best as you can is all you can do.”