About the Chef - Robert Mackay

Robert Mackay was born in London, Ontario but grew up in Kingston. After graduating from high school in Brockville, Ontario, Robert decided to experience something new and moved to Montreal. Life in a big vibrant social city was very exciting. This influenced Robert towards the hospitality industry. With his love of food, and his creative nature, it wasn’t too hard for him to decide to pursue a career in culinary arts.

Robert enrolled at Algonquin College in Ottawa and completed a 2 year diploma in culinary management in 1998. Robert then moved to Muskoka “cottage country” to work under chef Brian Folke at a 4 diamond country inn called The Sherwood Inn. There, Robert further developed his skills; working “split shifts” each day. Beginning at 5:30am, he would set up and prepare breakfast - including the Sherwood’s famous Sunday brunch buffet – he would move on to lunch service and then would water ski in the afternoons, returning to work the dinner rush until 9:30 or 10pm.


Upon leaving the Sherwood, Robert decided to give life in Toronto a try. He worked at a number of restaurants saving up money to travel. He spent 4 months touring culinary destinations in Europe such as Italy, France, and Spain. After returning from Europe, Robert joined the culinary team Sen5es in Toronto. While at Sen5es, Robert had the opportunity to learn from two vastly different, yet innovative, young chefs: Ned Bell and Claudio Aprile. The 2 years at Sen5es, Robert was able to learn from not only the chefs, but from the experienced culinary brigade that worked there. Robert was able to fine-tune his skills there, regardless if it was in cutting techniques, making duck confit, braising meats, or properly mashed potatoes. Everything that was served at Sen5es was top quality. That vital experience led Robert to take a job as a Sous Chef at a French bistro in the busy theatre district called The Torch Bistro.

Robert spent 2 years at The Torch, managing and developing the menu, as well as providing training for the kitchen staff. The restaurant housed a jazz club, as well as private rooms on the top level. This made it a very busy destination for downtown Toronto urbanites. With the experience he gained from running the kitchen and learning the business aspect, he decided to move westward and begin his own venture.

In 2003 Whistler was Robert’s new destination. There he launched a takeout Quebec deli/Southern BBQ eatery called The Smoke House. The concept was based on trying to provide the local cliental base with offerings they would find in a typical Quebec deli. Robert felt that his Montreal smoked meat, poutine, coleslaw and soups would be a hit, as Whistler was very populated with seasonal employees from Quebec and Ontario. The southern BBQ concept was developed in order to attract American tourists. He believed that families would want to order great tasting, well-priced take out meals consisting of ribs, pulled pork, brisket, baked beans, among other items, to take back to their suites. Unfortunately, in early 2005, the weather played havoc for many businesses in Whistler. The Smoke House was no exception and he decided to close the doors on his business, leaving many of his local clients hungry.

All was not lost though, as a new restaurant called Apres, had just opened down the street from The Smoke House. Robert joined the team as the Executive Sous Chef under Executive Chef Eric Vernice. Chef Eric Vernice, a French chef who apprenticed in Michelin Star restaurants in southern France, has worked in France, Toronto, the Dominican Republic, Whistler, New York, and London England. Eric found himself back in Whistler wanting to recreate his successes from when he was the chef at The Bearfoot Bistro, but this time at Apres. Robert took full advantage of the opportunity to learn as much as he could and worked closely with Eric in the 50 seat boutique restaurant and wine bar for two years. In 2007, Robert was ready to take his skills and talent to The River Rock Casino Resort.

Robert joined the culinary team as Sous Chef for Tramonto, under Executive Chef Sylvain Cuerrier. The upscale 80-seat restaurant was the perfect opportunity for Robert to build an inspired menu featuring local purveyors that supply top quality ingredients. Since Robert has led the team, Tramonto has become one of Richmond’s top destination restaurants.

Today, Robert has been with Tramonto, and The River Rock Casino Resort for more than six years. In that time, Robert has seen customer growth steadily each year, and continues to strive to deliver memorable meals, using the freshest and seasonal foods that are available, and is looking forward to continued success in his current position.

Wine Pairing Dinner Series

We hosted 80 of our our closest friends for the first installment of our Wine Pairing Dinner Series. With wines poured by our own sommelier and exquisite food to match, we enjoyed watching the expressions of our guests as they savored the flavors we prepared.

Our next wine dinner will be June 25th and will feature Australian wines & meticulously prepared dishes.

Open Table Award Winner!

Based on more than 5 million restaurant reviews over the last year, OpenTable diners identified their favourite restaurants to dine at in 2014. Tramonto is proud to be a recipient of OpenTable's Diner's Choice Award!  The Dincer's choice award winners are as distinct as they are deserving, with each winning restaurant creating one-of-a-kind dining adventures across an array of cuisines and service styles. "These winning restaurants are conducted like great orchestras," said Caroline Potter, OpenTable Chief Dining Officer. "All the players, from chefs and managers to wait staff and sommeliers, have artfully mastered their parts, and every instrument of hospitality, whether it be deft service or imaginative menus, is in harmony with one another to create a symphonic dining experience."

Have you ever booked your Tramonto reservation online through opentable? If you did, please make sure you rate or review us after you dine!

Asparagus velouté:

500 gr asparagus stems
1 lg onion
½ bunch celery
1 leek
4 clove garlic
¼ lb butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lt chicken stock or water
200 ml white wine
200 ml 36% cream
Spears for garnish

In a heavy bottom pot, melt butter in olive oil over medium heat, making sure not to discolour the butter. Once melted, add onion, celery, leek and garlic and sweat softly until vegetables are soft and translucent. Add asparagus stems to the pot and continue to sweat. Add white wine, and reduce. Add chicken stock and cream. Bring to a simmer and cook gently for 10 -15 minutes. Blitz the soup in a bar blender. Strain the soup and set off to the side until ready to serve and adjust the seasoning to taste.

Okanagan goat cheese arancini:

250gr of left over risotto or rice
100ml chicken stock
100gr goat cheese
1 tbsp mascarpone cheese
1 tbsp goat cheese
Fresh herbs
truffle oil

In a pan, add rice with some hot stock. Stir the rice to let the starch out of the grain. Once cooked through, finish with goat cheese, mascarpone cheese, herbs and truffle oil. Spread out on a baking sheet to allow to cool down. Portion risotto into 50gr balls and bread them. Set aside in cooler until needed. Pan fry them until crispy and serve with the soup.