What inspired you to start cooking?
My grandparents did. Growing up with eastern European grandparents I was always with them and in the kitchen. They are still very old school, to this day they still grow their own vegetables in the backyard, Cooking was the first life lesson I truly learned.
When & where did you start?
I started washing dishes in 2007 in the food court of Square One in Mississauga.
What is your favorite thing to cook?
My favorite dish to cook is a Cassoulet. It is a traditional French stew/casserole, it is not something we have on the menu but it is the best comfort food in the world.
Who is your greatest culinary inspiration?
Without running the risk of sounding cliché, my greatest culinary inspiration would be Thomas Keller. The way he looks at food, the way he treats food, he believes in buying good quality products and letting the food speak for itself. That is the same business model we use here at Cherry House. Fun fact, we also have the same birthday!
What did you have for breakfast today?
A bowl of Rice Krispies cereal, a toasted croissant and some watermelon.
What is the best meal you have ever had? And what about the worst?
Best: The first time my wife and I went to Bruce Wine Bar in Thornbury, Ontario. We had a plain margarita pizza with some sautéed chanterelle mushrooms, and finished with some shaved pecorino, that was the best meal I have ever had!
Worst: The first time I ever cooked for my wife, I was so nervous and made a chicken alfredo pasta and garlic bread, the pasta was overcooked and the garlic bread was burnt. It was the worst meal I ever had but the best because my wife and I laughed the whole evening about it. She still brings it up to this day 15 years later….
If you have a day off, do you cook at home?
Yes! It’s something that my wife and I do and I find it a great escape and it gives us a couple hours away from our phones to completely disconnect and be with one another.
Burlington restaurant you haven’t tried yet but want to?
Lord Nelson! I am looking forward to going there soon as I feel they are the original steakhouse that opened in Burlington. To this day they still do the old school table side Caesar salad and different things you don’t get to experience at everyday restaurants.
What’s the biggest piece of advice you can give a young, aspiring chef?
My best advice would be to make sure this is something that you actually want to do, this is a huge commitment and a lot of sacrifices need to be made. There are some incredibly long days and this requires a lot of hard work, however if that is something you can commit to it is truly rewarding seeing a dining room full of people that are loving your dishes. It definitely pays off.
If you could cook for anyone, past or present, who would it be for and what would you make?
I would cook for my dad. He passed away when I was 15 years old. I would make his favorite dish, penne pasta with olive oil, feta, toasted bread and olives.
Other comments or career highlights:
One of my career highlights is definitely getting the chance to cook for Hazel McCallion on a regular basis at our previous restaurant Aria Bistro & Lounge in Brampton.
Recently, we had Doug Gilmour join us for dinner at Cherry House, he was nice enough to come back into the kitchen and meet the staff and take some pictures. He is a legend from our city and it was an honor to have him dine with us.