Today’s Notable Young Professional is executive chef Danylo Mielnik of modern Italian restaurant Ovest in Toronto, where he presents all things classic Italian from fresh pasta to butchery, pastry, wine, coffee and culture. We caught up with him to find out what inspires his work and what advice he would share with other young professionals…
1. Describe what you do in less than 140 characters. Go.
I am responsible for all of the food that leaves my kitchen: overseeing every aspect of sourcing ingredients, preparation, cooking, taste, plating and menu development.
2. What was the inspiration for your career route?
I learned to cook at a young age so the inspiration came early in life for me. I really love the whole sense of community and friendship around the table when sharing a meal, and the happiness good food brings to people.
3. What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
Becoming an executive chef and being responsible for more than just the kitchen, but also the success of a restaurant.
4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
In the immediate future I see myself continuing to cook and working on my craft. And in 20-30 years, hopefully continuing to do so in a large restaurant and kitchen where I can train the future chefs of the world.
5. Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Work hard every day. Strive for perfection. You are only as good as the last dish you put out.
7. What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
Building a team in any kitchen is the hardest part of the job. Cooking pales in comparison to the difficulty of finding the right people and training them to have the same common goal in the food you prepare.
8. What does the word notable mean to you?
Someone or something you should take note of and follow their progress. Hopefully learning something along the way.
1. Where is your favourite place to wine/dine in your city and why?
When dining out with chef friends who cook European cuisine 24/7, we like to take a break and eat something different or ethnic. Chinatown and Koreatown are usually the choices. The flavours and cooking techniques are so different from European styles of cooking; it is refreshing for the palate.
2. What’s the most visited website on your Internet browser? The most played song on your phone?
YouTube. It is a great resource for chefs to learn new techniques and see interesting presentations of food from around the world. I don’t have a favourite song. Music for me is always based on my mood and what I am doing at the time. I enjoy a wide spectrum of music, much like I enjoy an array of foods.
3. Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?
4. What’s your favourite country to visit and why? And what’s the next one you plan on travelling to?
Cuba is my go to vacation country: quick flight, amazing beaches, amazing people, and tons of history. Japan is the next country I plan to visit. The attention to detail in their cuisine and the amazing freshness of the seafood makes it a chef’s dream country to visit.
5. What gives you the greatest FOMO?
Not trying out a new dish in a restaurant no matter how crazy or badly received it might be.
6. What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Having a fast food strawberry milkshake after work. Nothing helps me to cool down and relax after a long shift more than a delicious milkshake.
7. What’s something you wish you didn’t spend so much money on? What’s something you wish you spent more on?
Eating out. At the end of a workday, as a chef you are usually so tired that you grab something easy on the way home. Clothing is definitely something I should spend more money on. Chefs in general spend most of the day in their chef jackets outside the commute to and from work.
8. And finally, what does success look like to you? Work, play, or otherwise…
Success is having a business with a group of people who are like family and work like a well-oiled machine to achieve the same goals. You might have 200 people in a company, but if they lack direction and leadership it doesn’t matter how many employees you have. Success in business is being a leader and teaching/mentoring those under you to become better.