Notable.ca has partnered with Grey Goose, the World’s Best Tasting Vodka, to celebrate an exclusive series of Grey Goose Notables: young professionals and entrepreneurs who are influential taste-makers. For the next 10 weeks, we will feature two unique Notables who have made it – young professionals who have reached success beyond their years. We’ll show you how these Notables enjoy what they’ve earned – how they entertain friends, where they travel, what drives them from the office to the golf course – and how they celebrate life and all it has to offer. So, raise a glass as we toast to the Grey Goose Notables…
Being a restaurateur isn’t easy, but Roberto Porres handles the pressure of co-owning not one but two of Montreal’s best restaurants with class and style. As a trained sommelier – he has a certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers – Roberto also works on cultivating the precise wine lists at both his establishments, Restaurant Barroco and Bocata Restaurant and Wine Bar.
Roberto spent a great deal of time growing up in Guatemala City, and also in the US – his grandmother is from North Carolina and he has family in New York. He studied engineering at school in Guatemala City, but credits that “the real schooling was in my life experiences, books, and people that inspired me.” He went on to get his Small Business Certificate from Dawson College before training and getting accreditation as a sommelier. Roberto’s love of food and making connections with new people is why he chose a path in the hospitality and food services industry. He feels this “field is so complete and it touches all of my passions.”
But being the owner of two best-in-class restaurants and having a keen palette for wine is but part of the parcel that is Roberto Porres. Having grown up in Guatemala, Roberto believes it important to support his roots, which is why he helps a charity ran by his grandparents called Fundaninas. This organization helps orphaned young girls by getting them through the rough times in their childhood and supporting them through school, as well as supplying their basic needs. Roberto says, “It is important to support them because they need the help, and because the children are the future of the world. By helping them we are helping ourselves.”
Roberto Porres is a Notable, and to him, notable is “Traveling! Nothing nourishes my soul and gives me more inspiration than traveling to the places I have always dreamed of going. It makes me live life with a good rhythm.”
If there was one location that every person must see, what would it be? Why?
Panajachel, Guatamala on Lake Atitlan. It’s such a peaceful and magnificent place, surrounded by 12 majestic volcanoes; it’s a giant permanent blue patch of water with amazingly clear skies. It’s a natural place that speaks for itself and is a relatively virgin type of environment; not too many travel there.
What is your general life philosophy?/What advice would you want to share with others?
My general life philosophy is to aim really high so that if things don’t work out as planned at least you got pretty far from where you started. I feel like imagination and creativity are the greatest tools that one can have, because no one can take that from you and they can only grow and take you to better places. My advice is to listen to yourself and to discover and understand yourself in order to move forward.
What is it about you that you feel attracts others to you?
Sincerity and inspiration. Since I was a little kid, I have always been a highly-inspired person that is always able to imagine great things. I think people around me feel that, and this has allowed me to surround myself with great minds and exceptional people. There’s also my sense of empathy, and people say I’m a good listener. I think I allow people to really be themselves when they are around me.
How do you enjoy life? What are some of your life indulgences?
Traveling, especially where there is light blue water and white sands. I also enjoy life by dining out and drinking good wine. Being a sommelier has given me the opportunity to explore the wine world, and owning two restaurants allows me to taste all kinds of excellent products, like fresh lobster and foie gras and truffles. There is nothing better in life than sharing these discoveries with friends and family.
Please describe what entertaining looks like to you. What makes the perfect host?
Entertaining to me is all about hospitality – making people feel good and impressed. Impressing people with food is one of my favourite ways of entertaining; having them discover a new cheese or meat or vegetable. The same applies to my restaurants, where I am constantly entertaining people at all levels, whether it be with food, wine, music, mixology, or décor.
When entertaining at your home, what is your one staple item that you must serve, and why?
Oysters, of course. They get any party started: They’re almost like an edible accessory and people who like them tend to be obsessed with them. Here in Montreal, we are lucky to be able to get amazing oysters from the Atlantic Maritimes on a regular basis. With just some lemon they are ready to enjoy with a crisp white wine or Champagne.
What is more important when entertaining: the space, or the people in the space, and why?
Through designing Barroco and Bocata restaurants, I find that they are both equally important. The space is like a time machine where you get to share amazing conversations and moments. The beauty about it is that even if the space seems static it can come to life with the right mix of people. I believe that there is no good entertaining without a good space or without good people; entertaining doesn’t take place without both.