Meet Kiyoshi, the Beverage Manager and Head Sommelier at Yardbird and RŌNIN. Yoshi, as we call him, has worked in hospitality for many years but his passion for food and beverage started in his hometown of Montreal, Quebec. Whether it’s wine, whisky, oysters, or cheese, this man knows his stuff! Just don’t ask him for dessert recommendations as his sweet tooth does not exist. Read below to learn more about Yoshi – what he likes, what he hates, and why he works in F&B.

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What is your role at Yardbird/RŌNIN and how long have you been with the company?

I am the Beverage Manager and Head Sommelier at Yardbird and RŌNIN. I’ve been with the company for four years.

Where are you from and how did you end up in Hong Kong?

I am from Montreal. I lived in Hong Kong as a 12 year old for a bit with my family. It stuck and I kept coming back until I moved here six years ago.

What path led you to working in hospitality? And specifically on the beverage side?

I got my first restaurant job when I was a teenager and have worked in restaurants in some capacity ever since. I loved the work from day one even though it’s a grind. Beverage side was a natural progression because I have always liked to geek out on good drink.

Have you had any mentors that have helped you get to where you are today?

Cliche as it is I see both my parents as mentors. If I can emulate anything close to what they have done together I think I can consider myself a success in life.

Professionally my man Elliot James Faber has been a great mentor and dear friend who has imparted me with much knowledge and guidance. He’s one who always leads by example by showing what to do…and more often what not to do!

What do you love about the work you do?

Working with great people who care about what they do.

What are your pet peeves at work?

Fictitious allergies and dietary restrictions. Rude customers.

How do you stay healthy and find balance while working long hours, working nights, and having to drink as part of your job?

It’s not easy. I do try and keep as normal a schedule as possible. I’m up relatively early every day and try and get as much exercise as I can. Muay Thai is dear to my heart, boxing definitely helps keep me sane.

What’s your beverage of choice and why?

Whisky. Because it is the sweet nectar of the gods.

What are your favorite spots in Hong Kong for food? How about for drinks?

Kowloon City for Thai and Islam food. I love ghetto Chinese style skewers in Jordan and Hotpot in TST. Racks for drinks, it’s like Cheers for the Yardbird crew.

What is your favorite place to travel to?

Japan and anywhere new I haven’t been before.

If you weren’t working in hospitality, what would you be doing?

No idea… probably an astronaut or a cage fighter or something…

You always say, “they call me the DJ.” What’s your favorite music and what makes a good playlist?

Nobody actually calls me that, I just gangster the iPod during setup! I’m pretty open when it comes to music but definitely 90s Hip Hop, Soul, RnB, and Funk are what I listen to the most.


Images Courtesy Eugene Kan of MAEKAN

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