Lincoln Francis-Wright is a Bendigo born 31 year old hospitality professional of around 13 years’ experience. During his journey so far he has been taught, developed and tuned a vast array of skills and qualities required to excel in the industry.
He lives and breathes food and beverage, and gets a real kick out of making people comfortable and happy.
He started with his first mentor, Matt Connolly (a renowned local hospitality icon), with zero experience in the industry, a less than limited food knowledge due to a very fussy diet, and having never had a sip of wine in his life.
Matt Connolly was a legend! He still says to this day that Linc’s air of confidence, despite knowing nothing about what he was getting himself into, is the reason he let him in all those years ago. Matt claims he had an eagerness and obvious willingness to learn, like he had never seen in all his years. Linc worked with Matt part-time for about 9 months before deciding to defer university studies and commit to the workforce full-time. He was loving it.
Over the following year, Matt groomed Linc into being his front of house supervisor, and then on to duty manager.
Time on the floor of one of the busiest restaurants in Bendigo allowed Linc the opportunity to really get to understand the industry in his home town, meet the locals and get to know faces.
He would remain in this position for a further year or so, before he was discovered during a busy service by a scout for industry icon, Dean Oberin, and invited for lunch in Echuca to discuss an opportunity at the infamous Oscar W’s Wharfside.
The opportunity presented to him was one that would involve Linc moving away from his home town, out of an acquired comfort zone to a place where he knew nobody, and nobody knew him!
The training in all departments of this restaurant was first class. There were systems in place to ensure only the strong and passionate progress, and only these candidates would have the privilege of servicing the patrons; protective measures to control the outcome.
Linc was recruited to come in at supervisory level, and after just three short months was invited to sit down with Dean in person to evaluate all of the existing systems, and impart some fresh ideas as seen by fresh eyes.
Oscar W’s had been in and out of the Age Good Food Guide since it opened in 1996. When Linc arrived the venue had been rated highly but was not awarded the coveted “chef’s hat” award for the few years prior. He made it his personal goal to do everything he could to get the hat back for the venue.
Staff movement throughout the duration of his employment at Oscar W’s allowed Linc to be trained and specialise in all areas of the business, eventually moving to the position of restaurant manager where he remained for his final three years there.
To assist and promote development with this role, Dean would send Linc to Melbourne on numerous occasions for specialist training with Tony Eldred, of Eldred Hospitality Consulting, and multiple field trips to seek inspiration from the best restaurants in the city.
Oscar W’s were edging closer each year to achieving his goal of once again becoming a ‘hatted’ restaurant. People in the industry told Linc it was next to impossible, and that once it’s gone, it’s gone … unlikely to return. This fuelled his ambitions even more.
Some tough decisions were made, some deadwood removed from the venue and some fresh, experienced talent was recruited using the training Linc had received from Eldred.
In the 2012 edition of the guide (released in August 2011 for the 2011 review year), Oscar W’s was awarded a chef’s hat. He’d done it!
After realizing the dream at Oscars, it was time for Linc to take things global. A plane ticket was booked and so started the journey. The intention of the trip was simple: to eat and drink the best possible at the time, and observe how things are done elsewhere. Loads of food, wine, beers and memories later, as well as some cameo experiences at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen in London, The Fat Beagle in Brooklyn, and Vintry Wine & Whiskey in Manhattan, NYC, saw Linc return home to Bendigo, after nearly 9 years away.
Upon return Linc got talking with an old hospo friend, Finn Vedelsby, about a new mission. He was about to embark on opening his own venue with a chef friend of his, and invited Linc’s input. Rocks on Rosalind flourished immediately. This also happens to be where Linc and Ben first worked together.
Now Linc is delighted to bring his expertise to the Bendigo Gallery Cafe.