From Le Club des Pins to Lawrence, Etheliya Hananova has been a fixture in Montreal restaurants for over a decade (with stints in New York City for good measure). The sommelière's last service at Lawrence will take place next Friday, however, as a new adventure awaits in Paris.
So you're off to Paris. What's the story?
I'm moving to Paris for work. My boyfriend [Noam Gedalof, late of Kaizen and The French Laundry] is also in the restaurant business. Noam went to stage in Paris for a few months, with the hopes of landing something. I went to eat at the restaurant we ended up working at and we connected with the restaurateur. As it turned out the sous-chef and the sommlier were leaving at the same time to open their own restaurant. Noam staged there first [for a week] and then we got into talks about something more permanent.
Did this all happen relatively recently?
Noam's stage was from September to November [Gedalof staged at a few places while away, mainly at L'Astrance]. So he'll be taking over as chef de cuisine and I'll be the sommelière/buyer. The group that owns the restaurant is looking to branch off into other businesses and they want someone to forge relationships with winemakers and buy directly from them.
Tell us about this restaurant.
The name of the restaurant is Le Sergent Recruteur - it's not related to the dive bar in Montreal. It's a one star Michelin on Île Saint-Louis [with executive chef and Michel Bras protégé Antonin Bonnet]
How does it feel to leave Montreal and Lawrence?
It's hard. I've been there from the beginning. It's an extraordinary place to work and I've developed close relationships with my bosses and clients. It's hard to walk away from that comfort and familiarity but, at the same time, I've helped build it into something that can stand on its own. I feel good about that.
How emotional will that last service be?
Well it's already fraught with emotion because it's on Valentine's Day. It's not easy to leave. It's a big change but you have to move forward. I could freak out but I won't because there's no point.