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INTERVIEW WITH ADAM RIGAA, RAMMYS 2018 MANAGER OF THE YEAR FINALIST

April 16, 2018

The Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) presents Adam Rigaa, General Manager and Sommelier of Brasserie Beck. He is nominated for the Manager of the Year award for the 2018 RAMMY Awards Gala on June 10. The Manager of the Year award goes to a non-owner manager or general manager in the food service industry who displays the highest level of professionalism and leadership. This person must be an inspiration and mentor to all his/her co-workers displaying outstanding service, an excellent work ethic and a positive image.‚Äč

Name // Title // Bio Adam Rigaa, General Manager and Sommelier, Brasserie Beck
A native of Morocco, Adam Rigaa's first ever job in the states was at Marcel's by Robert Wiedmaier. He started at the entry-level of the elegant fine dining establishment bussing tables and washing dishes, working his way up to bar back, bartender, and captain. There, his great love of wine was ignited as he trained to become a sommelier, and was later certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers. To broaden his experience, Rigaa left Marcel's to help open Adour, an Alain Ducasse restaurant at the St. Regis DC, as head sommelier. From there, he returned to the Wiedmaier empire transferring to Brasserie Beck to concentrate on expanding its beverage program. In 2014, Rigaa was made General Manager of the popular 220-seat restaurant. As sommelier and general manager, Rigaa’s passion allows him to oversee a cellar that is predominantly French to complement the Franco-Belgian menu, while containing bottles within a prices range from relatively modest to four-digits.

What's the hardest part about being the GM of a restaurant?  The team at Brasserie Beck is like a big family – and sometimes you have to practice tough love! We have a lot of different personalities and finding effective ways to balance everything is important.

...and the most rewarding part? It’s incredibly rewarding to be part of such a tight-knit team that is working towards the same goal – incredible food, drink, and service.

How are you influenced by the neighborhood you are located in? We feel deeply connected to the neighborhood – Brasserie Beck has been open for more than 10 years and we feel lucky to have loyal customers who have been with us since the beginning.

How did you get started in the business? What was your first job in the industry & what did you learn from it?  My first job in the business was as a busboy and dishwasher at Marcel’s. It was there that I discovered my passion for the service industry – and cultivated a deep appreciation for wine. In fact, I have since gone on to become certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Where do you see yourself in five years? I hope to continue working with the Robert Wiedmaier Restaurant Group as it grows and evolves.

What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given? I live by the golden rule: treat others the way you wish to be treated.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Before venturing to the States in 2003, I was a forest ranger in my homeland, managing flora and fauna and organizing hunting gatherings. I love the outdoors and if I was ever to do anything else, it would most likely be something in nature.

What is your favorite ingredient? One of my favorite ingredients is onions – they are incredibly aromatic and bring a punch of flavor to every dish. Versatile and delicious!  

What insider foodie tip do you have for diners? My suggestion is to trust the servers and the chef – let the experts help guide the experience and trust the process!

You're hosting a dream dinner party. What three people would be at your table? It’s difficult to choose just three – but I would love to have had the opportunity to meet Nelson Mandela. And, it’s not a dinner party without two of my favorite chefs – Robert Wiedmaier and Alan Ducasse. 

It's the last meal of your life - what's on your plate? I’m from Morocco, so couscous brings a lot of memories of my family and childhood to mind.

What are your pet peeves? When I eat out, it bothers me to see a manager who is not treating employees in a respectful or professional way. Whether its yelling or losing their temper – its not appropriate and it always makes the guest feel uncomfortable.

What is your favorite way to give back to the community? I think donation is very important – whether it's the donation of time, energy, or resources. Giving up and chipping in is so valuable and rewarding.   

Why do you love working in restaurants? This industry has always brought me a true sense of satisfaction – its’ so encouraging to have a team rally behind you, united by a shared goal!