In the office of Hugh’s Room Live there is a small, framed photo of a young child sitting in a garden patch, pulling potatoes with her father. “It’s the moment I realized I was in love with food,” said Chef Rebecca Wagner, who has been building a sophisticated yet simple menu at the live music venue since it opened as a non-profit organization on Earth Day in 2017. Although not her first career, Chef Rebecca decided to plunge full-force into the professional kitchen, where she felt solace following the passing of her father, and her natural talent for the business has yielded impressive results.
After graduating from the esteemed culinary arts school at George Brown College in Toronto, Chef Rebecca began her career in a seafood kitchen in the city’s Distillery District, where she learned much of what she now knows about the brigade, efficiency, and culture of the profession. Her experience in many of Toronto’s kitchens on her way to leadership at Hugh’s Room Live played an important role in her readiness for joining the team.
Not only is it Chef Rebecca’s gift for culinary creation that contributes to her successful career as Chef, but also it is her inherent capacity for navigating fast-paced environments and her agility. Chef Rebecca isn’t afraid to take chances, or to explore uncharted territory. When Hugh’s Room Live opened its doors as a non-profit, she faced many challenges, including a menu overhaul, developing a catering program, and building a team – all while providing kitchen service for Hugh’s Room Live’s intimate concerts in the listening room downstairs.
“Today I am most proud of the Hugh’s Room Live kitchen team,” she said, “We have a cohesive and supportive team who I believe is genuinely invested in the success of the club.” Chef Rebecca is most excited about seeing people enjoy things together, whether it’s giving accolades to her team, feeding people, or watching the room as the club’s artists light up the faces of their fans.
Chef Rebecca’s goals for the Hugh’s Room Live kitchen include growing a food brand for the club that is a creative nod to tradition, which she feels that Hugh’s Room Live is, as a whole.