What makes a meal special? It’s not just the food… It’s the whole experience from the moment you walk in the restaurant to the way your dessert is presented. VTV special guest contributor Glen Peloso knows a thing or two about how to transform a restaurant from a good place to get a meal to an experience that will stay with you for life. The interior design expert has lent his talent for reinventing spaces to some of our favourite restaurants in Toronto and around the world. We caught up with Peloso to find out how he got his start, where he dines in his free time and what he thinks makes or breaks a restaurant experience.
Tell us a bit about yourself. What should people know?
I’m a Toronto designer working in hospitality, commercial and residential interiors who has been recognized as a design expert on The Marilyn Denis Show and from past work as a host/designer of the internationally popular television shows Food Network/HGTV’s Restaurant Makeover, and W Network’s Take This House and Sell It and Slice Network’s Renovate My Wardrobe.
I am a design journalist and contribute to many national and international magazines and newspapers where my work has been featured. I am currently a design columnist for the Toronto Star’s “New in Homes” section and the National Design Contributor for Canadian Homes Trends magazine and writer for Post City Homes. I have been working in this industry for about two decades and still love what I do and the people I have the pleasure to work with!
Finish this sentence: I love Toronto because…
…it has the multicultural influences of the world, the energy of a metropolis, the foods of the globe and four beautiful seasons!
How did you get involved in your current profession?
I have always had an interested in the psychology of humans and how they interact in space. When I finished my Masters degree in fine art and began working in design, I was fascinated mostly with my clients and their lives – creating a space that would give them an easier, more productive life. I worked in corporate housing and in art direction, which finally lead me to where I am now.
What restaurant interior design project are you most proud of and why?
It’s so difficult to give just one as they all matter deeply to me as they are happening. Every restaurant is as different as the people who own and run them. I think the work at Touro Brazilian Steakhouse, The Artisan Bakery and Windermere House are some of my current favourites. They were each followed through clearly from concept to completion which allows the original vision to shine through.
What’s one (or two) of the biggest mistakes you see restaurateurs make regarding the interior design of their establishments?
1) The interior design and the food don’t match each other to create a cohesive, clear experience – ie. what you expect from the establishment and what you receive are not the same. Any concept can work as long as you follow through from room to food, etc.
2) Consistency. If you consistently deliver the same experience patrons will always return however if the first is a great experience, second good and third terrible, you’ve lost that person forever. You can serve sarcasm and a good burger as long as you always do the same.
What are some of the most impressive restaurants you’ve visited around the world and why?
Le Train Bleu in Paris: amazing history and a beautiful room with a lovely meal.
The French Laundry: extraordinary food in an amazing setting with the most amazing service I’ve ever had.
Daniel in NYC: a beautiful meal at prix fixe and an elegant room that transports you to the middle of Paris.
What’s the most memorable meal you’ve ever had?
My grandmother on my father’s side used to make the most spectacular risotto known to man! I still crave that flavour, and it has never been the same!