For Guy Le Monnier, serving booze at events he caters can be tricky business sometimes.
His Victoria catering company, Island Gourmet Catering, is often hired for private parties where drinking is typically involved. Most of the time guests are are well behaved when it comes to how much liquor they’ve consumed, but sometimes they need to be cut off. Knowing when to do that is something Le Monnier’s staff is trained to look out for.
“It is challenging. It’s not easy to say we have to maybe have that person take a break or maybe step in, but if we have to do it we will do it,” said Le Monnier, whose been in the catering business for 14 years.
“We’ve had to cut people off, but it was never a problem. Most of the time people do understand.”
In order to ensure safety for those serving alcohol at small events, the B.C. government is offering a new training program for licence holders, managers and servers, regardless of whether they are paid or volunteer.
Beginning Sept. 15, everyone who serves or sells alcohol in B.C. is required to have either completed the new Special Event Server (SES) course or the more in-depth Serving It Right (SIR) certification, regardless of the number of people at the event. The same applies to managers and special occasion license holders for events with less than 500 people.
The new self-study certification online course takes one hour to complete and provides information on legal responsibilities and effective techniques for recognizing intoxication, along with preventing problems related to over service.
“The reality is, cutting someone off can be difficult, but sometimes it needs to be done,” said Coralee Oakes, minister responsible for liquor.
“We want to keep British Columbians safe when they are attending special events – and we can help do that by ensuring that the people serving alcohol are not only aware of their legal responsibilities, but are prepared to handle uncomfortable situations, should they arise.”
The training pertains to all servers in more than 5,600 licensed restaurants across the province, along with staff at B.C. liquor stores, rural agency and wine stores. Event servers will need to renew their training every five years. Those already holding a valid Serving It Right certification do not need to complete the SES course.
Le Monnier and his staff already have the Serving It Right certification, but he expects to use the SES training for new staff that don’t already have something in place.
“We want to make sure they know what to serve and how to serve, and of course dealing with people who’ve had a few drinks already,” Le Monnier said.
For more information about the SES training program visit www.specialeventserver.com.
— Pamela Roth