Our next Chef of the Week helped win his restaurant the title of best Italian restaurant in Toronto in 2017 from Top Choice Awards.
Allow us to introduce you to Daniel Duketovsky.
If you live in Toronto, it’s likely you’ve dined at Gusto 101, and if not, you’ve definitely heard friends rave about it. The restaurant’s rooftop patio is one of the best in the city, and their mouthwatering dishes have people coming back time and time again. As the Chef de Cuisine, Duketovsky plays a big part in the success of the restaurant.
But like all great chefs, Duketovsky worked a number of roles before he was named head of Gusto 101’s kitchen. Duketovsky’s career first began when he enrolled in the Culinary Management Program at Humber College. After graduating, he spent a couple of years working at the Hilton, where he met a mentor that would open his eyes and give him a strong culinary foundation. Afterward, Duketovsky moved on to Blowfish Restaurant + Bar, where he worked his way from prep cook to fully-trained sushi chef to Chef de Cuisine. After a decade of working with Japanese food, Duketovsky decided to expand his horizons, and landed a role developing Gusto’s addicting in-house bread and fresh pasta. Soon after, he was given the role of Chef de Cuisine.
We had the opportunity to catch up with Chef Daniel Duketovsky out of the kitchen to learn a little more about his cooking style, why a busy restaurant doesn’t always mean profit, and the three restaurants you must try before you die.
How did you get your start in the industry?
I got my start in the industry simply for my love of food. Since the age of sixteen I’ve always worked in restaurants – from washing dishes and bussing tables to becoming a chef. Along the way, I was fortunate enough to meet and work under a number of talented and driven chefs who taught me the importance of hard work, dedication, sacrifice and passion. They all played a large part in shaping the trajectory of my culinary education and career.
How would you describe your culinary style?
I would describe my culinary style as being largely influenced by Japanese cuisine- simple, delicate, and warm.
What’s your favourite dish on your current menu and why?
My favourite dish on the current menu at Gusto 101 would definitely be the Bucatini All’Amatriciana. I chose this dish primarily because I love pasta – noodles, to be more specific. Secondly, all the components of this pasta are made within Gusto’s four walls from the fresh bucatini noodles to the curing of the guanciale. A lot of love goes into this dish.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about the restaurant industry?
I find that the biggest misconception people have about the restaurant industry is assuming that just because a restaurant is busy, it’s extremely profitable. I don’t think people realize how much money actually goes into the things that allow your restaurant to operate like purchasing the best ingredients, stocking your bar with alcohol, and compensating everyone from the dishwasher to the general manager and chef.
What’s your go-to meal to cook at home?
I really enjoy cooking off of the wood fire grill at home – lots of local vegetables and meats.
What are three restaurants our readers need to try before they die?
- El Restaurant, Buenos Aires
- Alinea, Chicago
- Narisawa, Tokyo
What’s one tip our readers should know to up their own game in their kitchens?
If you want to up your game in your kitchen at home, first buy a scale and then find a cookbook that interests you. Every week, pick out one recipe that stands out to you and follow it to the gram. I think learning how to read and follow a recipe is a necessary skill on the path to becoming a better cook.
If there was one thing in the restaurant industry you could change, what would it be?
The one thing I would like to see changed in the restaurant industry is to see more chefs using more sustainable or eco-friendly products. I think it’s extremely important to be conscious of where we source our food from and the impact that this makes on the environment.
How do you think Toronto (and/or Canada’s) culinary scene will evolve in the future?
Are there any other chefs in Toronto you’d like to see profiled? Let us know in the comment section or tweet us at @ViewtheVibe.