Making Your Mark ~ Basilio Pesce

There’s a lot of movement in the restaurant business. We’re really fortunate that our best people tend to stick around, but we lose our fair share of gems.

Making Your Mark catches up with the ones that got away.

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Bas Pesce

13 years ago, Basilio Pesce was a just another station chef at North 44. He worked his way up to sous chef at Bymark before leaving the McEwan family. Today, he’s the owner of Porzia, a new Italian spot in Parkdale he named after his mother.

What’s the best part about being in the food business? And what’s the hardest part?

The best part of being in the food industry is that you get to do more than just play with food. Feeding people is a very gratifying sensation. Being part of someone’s meal and having them enjoy what you make is the best feeling. Also, as someone who loves to eat, being in the food industry is a natural calling.

The hardest part is not being able to see my son as much I ‘d like.

How do you know when a recipe’s right?

When it tastes better than how you expected it to. Also, it’s an instinct – you know when a recipe is off.

What was the worst food review you ever got and how did you handle it?

It was posted online by a customer. People are entitled to their own opinion, and most of their complaints weren’t about the food but more about the restaurant as a whole; from the wine list to the menu format to the location of the bathrooms. If you put yourself in the public eye, you have to expect that not everyone is going to like what you do. We try to learn from all our reviews whether they’re good or bad.

Why do you think foodie culture has exploded the way it has?

People are more aware of food these days. There has been so much media coverage of of different kinds of food and the food industry has a whole. The rise in Social Media has made it very easy to expose anything that’s happening in the industry almost immediately. In Toronto, there are a lot of talented people doing great things with food – it’s hard not to get caught up in the culture.

How do you think your stint at McEwan has helped you in your career?

Working for Mark was an amazing experience. I did my co-op at North 44 and was hired right after I graduated. Working there taught me how to “work”, how to be organized, and how to never compromise on quality. It really set a good foundation for me early in my culinary career. I also got to work with a very talented bunch that taught me a lot of the skills I teach my staff today.