Planning the most important event of someone’s life — say, a wedding day — is what Vanessa Moyal has been doing for the last 13 years.
As director of sales and events at Time, the supper club turned event venue, Moyal has witnessed its transformation since it opened in 2003.
“We were always known as a supper club,” she said, “but the truth is, we’ve been doing corporate events since the beginning. We weren’t doing as many as we are now, but we’ve always been open for private events.”
In fact, Time has even played host to a lengthy list of celebrities including Rihanna, U2, Drake, and Lady Gaga.
What’s changed since it transitioned into a full-time, turnkey event venue is its new focus on cuisine. Two years ago, chef John Zoumis — the chef behind restaurants like Trinity Estiatorio, Cavalli, and Bice (now Ristorante Beatrice) in Montreal, as well as the Michelin-starred Bastide in Los Angeles — was brought in to take over the kitchen and revamp the menu.
“What we’re doing now is changing the thinking behind Time, and making a commitment to really great food for our clients,” Zoumis said.
Time hosts everything from private Grand Prix and holiday parties to corporate events, 5-à-7s, bar mitzvahs and, of course, weddings.
“We really focus on the quality of the food and the service, because there’s no room for mistakes when a client trusts you with what could be the most important day in their life,” Moyal said.
Time uses only professional waiters, waitresses and bartenders for their events. What’s more, Moyal attends all — yes, all — of the events she plans, because after working with a given client for months, she wants to oversee every last detail and make sure everything goes smoothly.
“You can’t just leave the client the night of the event,” she said. “Being there makes them feel comfortable and reassured.”
Zoumis, who has worked as a chef for 22 years and won Iron Chef Montreal in support of the Feed a Child foundation, finds that the main difference between planning a menu for an event and for a restaurant is the intimacy he gets to have with clients.
“You get to meet the client directly; there’s no feedback through the waiter, no in-between,” he said. “When we’re doing tastings, it’s just me, Vanessa, and the client. If the client doesn’t like something, we can switch it up and make sure everything is perfectly tailored to suit their specific needs.”
Time’s seasonal menu can accommodate everything from vegan and kosher diets, to meals for people who are gluten or lactose intolerant.
Zoumis’s mantra is “Food is family, family is life, and life is everything.” It’s why he believes that the quality of a product is what keeps people coming back for more. That said, he also acknowledges that a big part of the appeal is the venue itself.
Set in a landmarked 1930s art deco building at the intersection of the Old Port and the city’s financial district, Time has a main space, mezzanine and terrace available and is conveniently located and easily accessible — even by public transportation, which is great for the holiday office-party season.
“I’ve been here for 13 years, and we have a lot of clients that come back every year for their holiday parties,” Moyal said. “As soon as the event is over, they book next year’s.”
As for Moyal herself, what keeps her coming back is the clients’ feedback.
“I just love getting a text message from a bride at three in the morning saying: ‘You made my night the most memorable night of my life.’ It’s amazing,” she said.
Originally published on Montreal Gazette