Mark McEwan can take the heat.
The 52-year-old celebrity chef and entrepreneur is a veteran of the tough restaurant business in Toronto. He got his start in hotel kitchens before opening a series of restaurants, including Pronto, North 44, Marketta, Terra, Bymark and recently, One, described as Toronto’s only five-star restaurant.
Last summer, he opened a $6-million gourmet food supermarket at The Shops at Don Mills. He has his own line of takeout products and cookware. His hectic catering business is in the spotlight on the TV reality show The Heat.
The Toronto Star chatted with McEwan on his success.
You have helmed some of Toronto’s most successful restaurants. What’s the crucial difference between a short-lived restaurant and a keeper like North 44 (1990 to present)?
The interesting part about the restaurant business is that a lot of people can become chefs and restaurant owners without a lot of knowledge about the restaurant business itself. You need to understand what a profit and loss statement is and how it works. You can’t just be a chef or a sommelier. I’ve always been good with money and numbers.
Is it not enough to be able to cook well? Why do some chefs fail in business, despite their celebrity?
School for being a chef is really a basic curriculum. You have to have a business side or someone managing the business for you. Otherwise, it will go sideways.