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Member on the Menu: Christine Gibson

May 31, 2017

Christine Gibson is 27 years old and the General Manager of Iron Gate Restaurant in Washington DC. She's spent essentially her entire working career in hospitality in some form or another. Motivated and passionate for everything restaurant related and completely devoted to the life goal of making others happy.

What is the hardest part about being the GM of a restaurant?

I think for me the hardest part is just being everywhere at the same time. I want to be able to be that person at the door greeting you as you walk in, I want to be there seeing what you thought of your gemelli pasta half way through your meal, and I want to be there to wish you a happy birthday as we bring you cake with a candle in it. I always want to be involved in all of those special moments in a guests dining experience but it’s hard to be everywhere all at once

…and the most rewarding part?

Anticipating guests needs is always extremely rewarding for me, because their reaction when you do something for them, just based off of conversation and noticing body language. For example when a guest arrives 30 minutes late because their flight was delayed and they just want to sit down and relax, giving them that table right next to the fire, and immediately starting them off with a half glass of wine. That goes a long way, and that is something they don’t forget. You might have exemplary service, but you remember those little things that you didn’t ask for, but we knew you needed.

How are you influenced by the neighborhood you are located in?

Well we are lucky enough to call ourselves a neighborhood spot in a lot of ways. So we end up getting crowds Friday nights, and always have guests who end up being regulars and are always looking for certain cocktails or dishes. That always creates a challenge because we change our menu often.  But we have a lot of great businesses around us, so we always try to recognize and acknowledge people who come in often and bring new people with them.

How did you get started in the business? What was your first job in the industry and what did you learn from it?

Unfortunately my first job in the business would technically be Cold Stone Creamery. I was 16 and wanted a job and it was in the mall near my house so it just made sense. Plus who doesn’t love free ice cream every time you work? Downside was you had to sing ice cream related songs for pennies. But eventually I moved up and was able to work more with making ice cream and even making and decorating cakes. That job taught me hospitality in it’s most basic form, just to acknowledge someone, find out their needs, meet the expectations and smile the entire time. Making people happy was to me, the best thing you could do. If it meant giving some extra gummy bears to a child getting ice cream, why not? I loved that job for it’s simplest of tasks to make someone happy.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Five years, that is a long time in this business. I’m hoping I’m continuing to be a better version of myself from the day before. Helping people more, making guests happier. I would love to be a part of something new and interesting, whether it be pushing a new trend in this business, or helping to open something exciting. I don’t think I ever want to own something, I feel like that takes away from me being able to focus on what I enjoy, making others happy. I wouldn’t mind getting back into the kitchen and cooking either. I’ve also had this dream of just joining the Peace Corp and dedicating time to truly helping others, but that is quite a commitment in itself as well. Possibilities are endless.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

If you’re going to do something, do it 110%, because why else would you do it if you aren’t going to give it your all.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

 I have always had a fascination with psychology. I would love to go back to school, become a psychologist and specialize in therapy for veterans with PTSD. I feel like I’m a great listener and don’t judge or push my thoughts on others. This in my mind makes me a perfect candidate for someone to speak and connect with, to try and help bring them back to this world.

What is your favorite ingredient?

I think my favorite ingredient is red pepper flakes. I add it to everything. If it’s savory, it will have it added, no matter what the dish was.

What insider foodie tip do you have for diners?

Don’t be afraid to dine alone. I really enjoy just sitting at a bar at a good new and trendy restaurant. Because we all want to try what’s new and hot, but it’s harder to get in sometimes with a group. Just go alone, get a cocktail, order too much food and just pray that they have to go boxes.

You’re hosting a dream dinner party.  What three people would be at your table?

A dinner party, such a difficult question because I feel like most people would say someone famous or someone who has died. But that seems awfully awkward, so I’d choose my close friends who are foodies or cooks first. Christos, he’s a great chef over at Rose’s and is my normal dinner adventurer. Rene Redzepi, because Noma, but also because his Instagram and the documentary Perfect Storm, make me believe he’s a genius and also a riot, and a good person trying to achieve greatness while never trying to stop learning. Danny Meyer would probably be my last, which is definitely cliché, but come on he has done so much for the hospitality industry and I would kill to just listen to him talk in person about it all.

It’s the last meal of your life  - what’s on your plate?

Last meal, probably my dad’s lasagna which he spends an entire day making, and it always has just enough ricotta, which normally still isn’t enough for me.His apple pie that’s the perfect balance of sweet and sour apples and is never runny, which even to this day, I can’t seem to figure out. Along with this terrible 3 layer jello my family makes for every holiday and therefore I make for my apartment every holiday and end up eating it all myself because my roommates just don’t understand it. I have an awful sweet tooth so it makes sense that my plate has carbs, and desserts. You could throw in some chips and salsa for added effect.

What are your pet peeves?

In life? Or Restaurants? I think restaurants; I would say my biggest pet peeve would be dirty tables or chairs. I can’t stand when I sit at a dirty table or chair. Because someone definitely put a napkin and water glass there at least, and failed to notice food still on the table. Pet Peeve in life? I think the lack of actual human interaction, or taking advantage of life in the moment. Phones ruin everything sometimes.

What is your favorite way to give back to the community?

Currently I’ve been volunteering at Arcadia Farm out in Virginia. They’re great and focus on education for kids in regards to nutrition and produce. They also have a mobile market that specifically aims to go to low income neighborhoods to help bring reasonably priced produce for people who generally couldn’t afford fresh produce. And therefore helping beat obesity in a younger generation, while pushing the idea of where your food comes from and even how you can grow it yourself. I think they’re making a large impact in the local communities and if me digging in the dirt once a week helps out, then that’s what I want to do. It’s stress relieving and also just helps out such an amazing cause.