Making Your Mark ~ Claudio Aprile

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.  This time around we caught up with Claudio Aprile, Chef & Founder of Orderfire Group and MasterChef Canada Judge. 

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Claudio Aprile

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

The best part about being in the food business is that change is the only constant. This is also the hardest part about being in the food business. Evolve or die.

How do you know when a recipe’s right?

When the chef doesn’t follow every step and the result is still delicious.

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

All I’ve ever done is cook, no fallbacks, so when I get a negative review it dose sting. But it’s not how hard you hit that matters, its what you do when you get hit that speaks to who you are. I tend to keep it to myself and try to learn from the miss-fires and fix the problem.

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

Restaurants have always been cultural hubs and are integral in the gentrification process of a city. Toronto’s current housing boom is fertile ground for startup companies such as restaurants. Toronto has never had so many amazing restaurant options, we now have one of the most diverse and exciting restaurant scenes in the world.

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

Chef McEwan has been a constant source of inspiration and guidance for most of my culinary and business life. I have always admired how he has seamlessly been able to merge his culinary talents with the world of commerce.

Making Your Mark ~ Rob Gentile

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.  This time around we caught up with Rob Gentile from Buca.

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

The best part about being in the food business is that I get to do what I love.  It’s very satisfying to make people happy through good food and I enjoy the ongoing challenge to learn more and get better each and every day.

To be honest I don’t have anything bad to say, I love every part of it!

How do you know when a recipe’s right?

With recipes and chefs in general is that just when we think we have it right, we second guess ourselves and ask “how can we make it better?” The truth is that a recipe is never perfect, it comes down to personal preference. What matters most is the guest’s experience and if they think it’s perfect, then we have done our job.

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

At Buca we have been very fortunate with good reviews but when there are negative comments it’s important to always remain positive and never let them affect the team. Negative reviews should always be used as a learning tool to determine why a guest is unhappy and what we can do to improve our hospitality so that everyone who walks through the door has an exceptional experience.

Nowadays, everyone has a voice through social media so if we ever discover an unhappy guest, we always respond or invite them back so that we can have an opportunity to change their perception.  It’s surprising how the tone changes from negative to a positive one.

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

Food has always been exciting and will continue to be.  As long as we exist we will always love good food so when someone can cook really well by creating unique and tasty dishes, they are considered somewhat of a superhero. Restaurants and Chefs all over the world are continuously presenting more interesting and amazing things to eat, as a result they are driving the “restaurant experience” to new levels. People are excited, they can’t help themselves.  We will always be drawn towards food,  it’s a beautiful thing.

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

Working for Chef Mark McEwan was an incredible learning experience, it instilled the drive and sense of professionalism that I have today. Watching Mark constantly strive to improve and expect the best from his team is something I really absorbed as a young cook. I carry that same determination with me and every day I encourage my own team to be better, a constant reminder that we never stop learning as chefs.