Ariel Coplan: Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur

Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is Ariel Coplan, who runs the kitchen, co-owns and cooks food at Toronto’s young professional hot spot Thoroughbred Food & Drink. Here’s what inspired his career path (and why he’s OK that it’s a little unbalanced)…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I run the kitchen, co-own and cook food at Thoroughbred Food & Drink.

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
I’ve been working on this concept for about two years. I really want to be involved in making Toronto a better food city since it has recently been growing and maturing in its content. I hope to bring good food to the table and help push Toronto’s food scene forward.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
I love being able to execute good quality food. It really makes me smile seeing the guys behind the bar inspired by their surroundings. The team in the kitchen is also constantly thinking of ideas and ways to execute new dishes.

I would say the challenge is to get the point across of what you’re trying to execute. The restaurant takes on its own persona, so the staff needs to understand the expectations and not only exceed them, but also fully communicate it to our clientele. It’s a culture.

What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
This is something I frequently think about. I’ve had many relationships end before they begin based on my commitment to work. I’m at work more than I’m at home, and days off don’t really exist. If you want to see me you’ll have to come visit me at the restaurant. It’s a life that I’ve chosen, and it’s certainly not balanced.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
My goal was to open a restaurant by the age of 30, and then to open more restaurants and concepts (Thoroughbred being the first). I want to establish a brand that’s a promise to the consumer and establish that quality should never be compromised. We’re trying to create a group of likeminded individuals who understand the importance of the service.

What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
One challenge that has been interesting is actually a double-edged sword: I travelled for most of my career working in Michelin-starred restaurants, most of which were better than what Toronto had to offer at the time.

But when I came back to Toronto I had the experience without the name. It has taken me a while to start establishing that I am able to cook and understand food, service and dining.

What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
Success is measured in different ways by all individuals. I’m not motivated by money. I’m hungry to create and share my ability. For me, success occurs every time someone leaves my restaurant happy.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
My career has been a journey. I don’t know that I would say one aspect is more memorable than another.  Opening my own restaurant is most likely the most important of many milestones.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
I think for me the most important thing is sticking to your ethos. Being proactive, not reactive.

Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
There are so many great spots in the city to go right now. I really enjoy People’s Eatery. They’re doing a great job of establishing what good food is.

When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
Mostly playing catch up and getting errands done. Otherwise I spend it with my family.

Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
I love travelling and have been fortunate enough to travel a lot. Much like a favourite song, I don’t have a favourite place to travel. I’ve been to Mexico quite a bit though, but I really like anywhere that has culture.

If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
Is ‘Eye of the Tiger’ already taken?

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
I would be working with food in one capacity or another. Either food photography or food psychology (helping those with mental health issues through healthy food habits). I love the idea of being able to help people’s mental health by forming diets. It’s no secret that if you eat well you feel good.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
When I was a kid I had Kawasaki Disease; it was a tough. I support the Kawasaki Disease Foundation because I’ve been through it and know what it’s like. Thoroughbred also works with SickKids and Camp Oochigeas, a camp for children living with cancer.

What to you is notable?
In my life the things that are notable are good food, good music, great friends, plants and sunlight.

Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
iPhone every time.


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