Miki Ellis: Today’s Notable Young Professional

Today’s Notable Young Professional is sake aficionado Miki Ellis, who’s responsible for training seminars, creating pairings for private/tasting menus, keeping sake flights fresh, overseeing the sake list, and hosting sake dinners at Vancouver’s Minami and Miku restaurants…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I learn, taste, promote, and share everything I know about sake.

What I get paid to do is run the sake program for the Aburi Restaurants – Minami and Miku. That means training seminars, creating pairings for private/tasting menus, keeping the sake flights fresh, overseeing our list, and hosting sake dinners.

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
I first loved sake because the people were geeky, probably because it is (in a sense) still a young industry. Then I realised sake is a delightful beverage, and you can enjoy drinking lots of it. I’m convinced it is in fact good for you. I mean, brewers recommend you bathe in it… 

There is still an air of mystery in sake for me, and with the work that I do, I get to explore the flavours, the breweries, the culture, and the people behind it. It’s fantastic!

The energy of the company really drew me first to Miku. I love passionate people. What is more genuine? Then they told me they want to explore sake too. I’m just lucky that Aburi Restaurants (Minami and Miku) are just as crazy for sake as I am!

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
Best and sometimes worst part is keeping it fresh. Making sake exciting to people who don’t know they care yet. Most people like to think they know stuff, and with sake there are a lot of assumptions on what the deal is, so it’s always interesting to tackle the crazy “facts” that are made up. When people do get it though, boy, it’s the best. Any great food and drink pairing is like a revelation, it’s one of those things that doesn’t need to be translated – you just get it. It’s like MAGIC.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Having spidey-senses taste buds!

What does success look like to you?
Loving what you do!

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Receiving the Premier Crew recognition at the 2013 Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards was incredible, but it really started with passing my ASP (Advanced Sake Professional through the SEC –Sake Education Council) and becoming the youngest person in the world with the certification.

For me, though, nothing beats being in Japan during a Daiginjo brewing season. 

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Work in the alcohol industry – it’s fun.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I morally support a lot of them, and I financially support my friends who “run” for charities.

What to you is notable?
Being creative; otherwise, you’re boring. People have done it the same way before, why bother with that?

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