Employee Spotlight: Will Tse, Executive Chef
September 3rd, 2019
Each month, our "Employee Spotlight" series showcases the dedicated British Columbians working behind-the-scenes at Canada’s premier stadium. This month, we talk to Will Tse, the Executive Chef for Centerplate at BC Place. Chef Will has been with the stadium for over 6 years and his son, Brandon, recently started working in the kitchen as well.
The stadium is considered BC's largest restaurant on an event day. What drew you to this role?
"I’ve worked in big hotels and I’ve run big restaurants, but I always thought, 'What’s bigger?' What’s bigger than BC Place in Vancouver? Not much. When this role came up, I initially thought it was just hot dogs and hamburgers but there’s so much more. There’s a lot of opportunity to be creative here. The stadium is a cool place to work because it has a little bit of everything. I look at it as 60 different restaurants but they're all running simultaneously so it keeps me busy."
What is the most challenging part of working at BC Place?
"I think the biggest challenge is the layout and size. I can’t be in 60 different kitchens at one time so part of my job is engineering a system so the food is exactly the way I want it but done by someone else. It can also be challenging figuring out what kind of menu items we want. We try to come up with items that appeal to people coming to a game but not just standard stadium fare."
Canada Sevens is one of the biggest events the stadium hosts with more than $2 million in food & beverages served over two days. What does it take to feed such a large crowd?
"The first year we hosted, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. After the first year, we realized the amount of planning it takes. I spend a lot of time on the computer with spreadsheets and people make fun of me, but it’s so important to be organized. The amount of food we go through in two days, takes over four months to plan. You can’t just call someone up and say I need 2,200 cases of something last minute. We have to consider how long the service is, how much product we need, how long will it take to get it here and how we will store it. It’s all about planning and making sure we have the people in place to execute that plan on event day. The planning is the hard part. Once the event is here, it’s all gravy. You just go with the flow."
What do you value most about the people you work with?
"I think it’s the diversity of staff. Some people have worked at the stadium for 20 years. There are also people who have worked with me for 15 years over 6 different properties. From the cooks to the managers to the management team from PavCo, we're a team. We're one building with a common goal. The way we communicate and interact with one another makes us feel more like family than coworkers."
Some of your coworkers truly are family! Your son, Brandon, has joined the Centerplate team at BC Place. What is it like working together?
"For me, business is business. For him, it’s a chance to see what I do for a living. For most of his life, I’ve just cooked. I think people think all chefs do is cook but there’s a lot more to it. You have to be a lot of different things in order to make the business run so having him here to see that side of it is great."
Brandon, what is it like working alongside your dad in the kitchen?
"I agree with him. Growing up, I would just see him cook so being here I get to see what he really does. There’s a lot more to being a chef than just food. He deals with a lot of professional and interpersonal things to keep everything running the way it's meant to. This isn't one of those starting jobs that everyone goes into. You come in and learn a lot more than just making a hot dog or burger. You actually learn skills in the kitchen that you wouldn’t really learn anywhere else, skills that you can apply to a lot more than just work."
Chef, you've been at the stadium for over 6 years now. Do you have a favourite memory?
"There are so many memories. Big events like FIFA Women's World Cup in 2015 and Canada Sevens each year definitely stand out. I think doing commercials is my favourite memory. I've done live TV before but hearing yourself on a commercial is surreal and getting to put my son in one is a pretty cool memory."
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
"I love when we pull off a huge event and everybody is still standing and in good spirits afterwards. It’s one thing to do a big event and everyone’s miserable. When everyone comes out of it knowing they did a great job and has the satisfaction of knowing we just pulled off a huge event that is all I really need."
To learn more or to join the team at BC Place, visit our Careers Page.