Tag Archives: Chef

Restaurant Owner Daryl DSouza (and special appearance by Owner/Chef Sean Smith)

14 Nov

Lunch with Mary 045

Date of lunch:
Sunday, November 14, 2010

The company:
Daryl is one of the owners of Lou Dawg’s Southern Sandwiches at King and Portland. The restaurant is about a year and a half old and Daryl, along with Chef Sean Smith, are learning all about running a restaurant along the way. A lifelong entrepreneur, I thought I could learn not only about owning a restaurant but also about starting a new business and all that it entails. Besides Lou Dawg’s, Daryl also works full time for an IT consulting firm specializing in eHealth and often lectures and sometimes teaches classes on entrepreneurship and business at Ryerson.

The food:
We ate at Lou Dawg’s and split a pulled pork po’boy sandwich and the vegetarian chili cheese fries. The chili cheese fries are a new menu addition and they are delicious – not too heavy and full of flavour. The sandwich was great and the coleslaw is a great addition. We both drank water and then each ended the meal with a Caesar. Daryl graciously treated me to lunch but if you were to order it, the total would be about $30 with tax.

The lunch lesson:
Daryl discussed some of his future plans for Lou Dawg’s, including conversations with investors about expansion into food courts and other counter service options. And that got me wondering – how does one find investors? Daryl told me about a Dragon’s Den type presentation series at Ryerson called Angel Investors. The network brings together a bunch of investors and then young entrepreneurs present their business plans. I had no idea anything like this existed. Daryl and Sean presented there, with food samples of course, and not only met investors in the audience but made connections that led to new connections and to the team of investors that they are speaking with now.

The lunch:
Daryl’s mind is always working – always looking for ways to grow and expand the business and always on the search for new opportunities. It was pretty interesting to listen to his plans for the future of Lou Dawg’s and how the plan has evolved based on what has worked and not worked up until this point. It seems quite obvious that any entrepreneur needs to be extremely flexible and be able to handle change, quick decisions and risk.

Having known Daryl and Sean for many years, I remember when Sean was learning about southern US style BBQ. He traveled down south and brought back the techniques and flavours that he found. Then Sean would cook up huge batches of pork at his house and treat all of us friends to late night pulled pork sandwiches. And Daryl, always the businessman, ate these delicious sandwiches and knew that there was a business in it. And Lou Dawg’s was born.

Although I was in total agreement that Sean’s sandwiches were amazing, I am a risk averse person and would not likely have thought to embark on such a risky business venture like restaurant ownership. This is one of the reasons I really admire Sean and Daryl. Now that they are well past their one year anniversary and the restaurant has really found its footing, it seems that the risk has definitely paid off and seeing their success has been a great reminder to me that I should probably be a bit more open to taking risks and not be such a chicken.

And special guest Lou Dawg’s co-owner and chef Sean Smith

Lunch with Mary 047

Sean’s Lunch Lesson
I am always curious about the weirdest things, so I wanted to know how much meat Lou Dawg’s actually goes through considering a large portion of their menu is meat based. So I got the scoop – they go through around 300 pounds of pork, about half that of beef brisket and 48 chickens a week, not including wings. And this conversation led to my wondering how chicken wings are always so much bigger when you order wings compared to the wings you get when you buy a full chicken. Turns out, the wings are from chickens that are a bit older – and older in chicken time so only a couple of weeks older. You learn something new every day.

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Chef Massimo Capra

9 Oct

Lunch with Mary 044

Date of lunch:
Friday, October 8, 2010

The company:
Massimo Capra is a well-known chef. Many people will know him from his appearances on The Food Network’s Restaurant Makeover. He is the owner of Mistura and Sopra on Davenport Road. He is also an author having published One Pot Italian Cooking and currently promoting his newest book 3 Chefs: The Kitchen Men along with Michael Bonacini (of Oliver&Bonacini) and Jason Parsons (of Peller Estates). He is incredibly friendly, enthusiastic and has such a love and passion for good food. And he has an awesome moustache!

 

The food:
We ate at Tutti Matti on Adelaide Street. It was Massimo’s choice. Being that he is a chef, I left it up to him because I didn’t want to choose somewhere awful by accident. Massimo is a huge fan of Tutti Matti because he says it reminds him of home cooked food. If there are any imperfections in the food, it is just the way nonna would make it, which makes it that much better. Even the smells of the restaurant reminded me of my nonna’s cooking. We split the fettunta (which is like bruschetta in my non-professional opinion), Massimo had the ravioli special and I had the fettucine with meat sauce. Important to note that all the pasta was made in-house, yum! We both drank water. Total bill was $49 with tax.

 

The lunch lesson:
We talked a lot about Italian food. My mom is from Italy, actually not far from where Massimo is from, and I grew up eating Italian food. Massimo explained that he is taking traditional Italian dishes but changing them slightly and updating them into his own recipes and food that he knows his customers here in Canada will enjoy. He says the food that we eat now in Canada and the US that is labeled Italian has gone through much of the same transformation as his cuisine and is its own form of Italian food. He said in Italy, if you order a specific dish like fettunta, no matter where you get it, it will be the same. While here, chefs are all putting their own take on it and Massimo has mastered this with years of dedication.

The lunch:
About a year ago, I saw Massimo at the Loblaws by my house when I was grocery shopping with my boyfriend. We wanted to follow him around the store and buy whatever he was getting, because we figured then we might be able to cook up the same great meal that he was making. Then we just felt awkward and gave up on the idea. But Massimo is the type of chef that cooks food that fills your kitchen with smells that are warm and comforting and is exactly the kind of food that I want to make.

Massimo still likes to work in the kitchen at his restaurant. The restaurant seems to have a real family feel, his wife works there too. He has been lucky to have many members of his kitchen staff stay on for upwards of ten years. Massimo told me that a lot of his longtime employees do leave eventually but he encourages them because he believes that chefs need to go out in the world, see what’s happening and learn along the way. His ex-staff members are now working at restaurants all across the globe.

Massimo told me about a new show he is working on that is currently being pitched in Cannes. It’s called Gourmet Escapes and Massimo travels around the world trying different cuisines and experiencing different cultures. So far, he has been to Iceland, South Carolina, Italy, Nova Scotia and more. Massimo told me about his time in Iceland and how much he wants to go back. He said the food is amazing, there are lots of great restaurants, a happening night life and the hot springs that everyone talks about? He said he could’ve stayed in them all day.

Hearing about his new show reminded me of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. I’m a huge fan of the show and so is Massimo. He told me that after watching the episode of Anthony Bourdain in Chicago, Massimo took a road trip and went to all of the same places. He said it was an amazing trip and included eating the most delicious hot dogs and tamales at a diner in a trailer. Often when I watch No Reservations, I want to go to the city and try the food. I liked that a professional chef like Massimo is also so enthusiastic and open to try out what other chefs are doing around the world. As this blog has taught me over and over again, you really never stop learning.