Summer at Cilantro has well and truly begun, and no one is more excited to be serving guests on the outdoor patio than our own Dusty Miller. Regulars would agree that he has an infectious smile that welcomes everyone as soon as they sit down. We spoke with Dusty to find out a little bit more about his time at Cilantro and his career journey with CRMR.
How did you first learn about Cilantro and what drew you to working here?
I began working at Cilantro in the Fall of 2012, so it’s been over 6 years since I started. Before Cilantro I worked at Brava Bistro, but I had a lot of friends who worked at Cilantro who spoke highly of it. The move was incredibly exciting for us, as Cilantro has always been a main player in the Calgary dining scene. I was lucky and qualified enough to get a position, and it’s been a real love affair ever since. I never had a real period of adjustment, Cilantro has always been a welcoming place and people are really open to new ideas.
What is your favourite part about working at Cilantro? Any experiences that stand out?
There are lots of great serving moments, but one of my most memorable moments was surrounded by the team at Cilantro. I was feeling creatively blocked and needed inspiration but when I looked around the restaurant I saw Chef Lance prepping the features and specials for the evening, our bartender Mike was behind the bar experimenting with new cocktails, and Brad, our Wine Director was testing wines for our new summer menu. Seeing all this creativity was really inspiring and I feel that when you’re in an environment like this one, where that’s all around you, it’s easy to apply that potential in your own life.
What is the best thing about the team at Cilantro?
The team at Cilantro is truly unlike anything I have experienced during my career. We are a tight-knit group of people who truly can’t get enough of each other. We are like one big family working here. In fact, I have worked with people who have met their spouses and started families while working at Cilantro! No matter who you’re working alongside during a shift, whether you haven’t seen them for weeks, or you just got back from a weekend in Vegas with them, they are still going to be your best friend for the shift and an even greater friend for life.
What’s your favourite dish on the menu and what are your other recommendations?
My favourite is the Fire Roasted Tomato Pizza. It’s simple, but the way the tomato sauce, cheese and basil combined together creates an abundance of flavor that’s addictive. Our pizzas are very special because of our forno pizza oven, which was the first one in Alberta. It’s a staple here and the driver behind many of our most popular dishes. Away from the pizza, I always recommend anything with the elk or bison. All of the elk and bison on our menu is locally and ethically raised on our very own Canadian Rocky Mountain Ranch, and it’s a great way to operate a business within our community that is really dedicated to knowing where food comes from.
How are you enjoying summer serving now that the patio is open?
This is my sixth Summer on the patio and it still gets me excited just because it makes the restaurant that much busier, and the vibrancy brings about a new level of joy to serving. It takes our entire staff, front and back of house to get the patio ready for the summer season, so everyone is fully invested. Patio season started a bit later this year, but since then people have been flooding in and enjoying our new Happy Hour program.
What do you like to do on a summer day off in Calgary?
Well in the summer, I have this great job where I get to be outside all day and I’m meeting new people, and I’m also catching up with old friends. So, on my days off here’s is where it gets dark, literally. I’ll be in a movie theatre, I might go for a float in a sensory deprivation tank, or I’m at my computer editing video footage that I shot earlier in the week. It’s much needed alone time and I’m completely happy with that – I actually look forward to it.
You mentioned video editing during your days off. How did you become involved with that and where do you get your inspiration?
Film is a big passion of mine, and it’s exciting that I was able to combine both my love for Cilantro and film editing together. I was introduced to the graphic designer of CRMR and we bonded over our mutual artistic interests and creativity. I was asked to help with a new video series for CRMR that showcased the mountain properties, stores and restaurants and contributed to the storyboards for these mini videos. I get inspiration from good stories, and the history of CRMR is so rich that it made filming and editing easy. For each lodge we focused on the character and personality of the property which included the individuals working there. I think its important to show an intimate and personal side of the company especially with the people who have worked with the company for many years.
Photos: Erik MCR