Grey Goose Notable young professionals and entrepreneurs are influential tastemakers who have made it beyond their years and, though their careers are still evolving, are now able to enjoy the success and life they have created. These selected individuals share how they got to where they are today, how they are able to enjoy what they have earned, where they love to travel, how they entertain and how they celebrate all that life has to offer. As a co-owner owner of a successful catering company and restaurant, Toronto-raised and based young professiona, Adrian Niman knows all about taking the time to savour the finer things in life, including his food!
In 2007, Adrian Niman started his own catering company called The Food Dudes upon completing intense culinary training at the Michelin-starred Reads Hotel in Mallorca, Spain. Specializing in creative and artfully prepared dishes that are made from scratch using local ingredients, The Food Dudes quickly became a much loved, go-to company of choice for some of the city’s most coveted events. This past February, Niman and business partner Brent McClenahan opened up the swanky resto-lounge Bloke & 4th, an instantly thriving restaurant at King and Spadina. The Food Dudes have been applauded for their young, fresh take on food and includes a team of talented young professionals who are all under the age of 30.
If there were one location everyone must see, what would it be?
Spain. I love everything about it, but my favourite parts are San Sabastian and Barcelona. San Sebastian has some of the most creative, out-of-the-box restaurants in the world, and Barcelona is the produce capital of the world. Not to mention, the country is known for its beautiful women, amazing party scene and unmatched specialty cocktails.
What is your general perspective on life? Advice for fellow young professionals?
Never be scared to start a business. It isn’t easy, and you have to know that you will fall from time to time, but if you keep persevering with your goals in mind, nine times out of ten you are going to be happy with the results.
What were/are your biggest challenges?
There are major challenges, for myself it was the HR aspect and keeping the staff motivated. Small start-up businesses can’t afford to pay the same wages as long-established ones but they come with their benefits. Working for a start-up means your have more of an influence in the functioning of the company, and your thoughts and opinions matter.
Who do you admire most?
My parents. They both worked very hard at their careers and reaped the rewards in the end. I also admire Drake as an example of a Canadian who has become an international superstar while remaining true to his roots. Professionally, I admire Top Chef Season 6 winner Michael Voltaggio. I was at his restaurant in LA and I see him as my major competition.
Why were the early stages of your career worth what you are now able to enjoy?
The first few years were very challenging. Many things went wrong, including a falling out with a former business partner. It was frustrating because I was catering events that I didn’t feel reflected the quality and calibre of our product. I was discouraged and a few times wanted to give up and work as a chef abroad. I managed to work my way out of it, however. I started small, utilizing the network of people I knew as a born and bred Torontonian, as well as social media networks. I decided to stop focusing on the noise and focus instead on the food and doing what I did best, and it paid off.
What’s the best part of your success?
The best part is that I get to work with cool, interesting people, all of whom are under the age of 30. It is a good feeling to know that I am providing jobs for people and providing a quality product and service at the same time.
What makes the best host at a dinner party?
The best host is one who is calm, cool and selective. The host should not be frazzled or disorganized. The key is to do all the preparation you can ahead of time. This means making sure that everything is cut, seasoned and ready to go. Of course, The Food Dudes can take all the work away from you if we cater your dinner party or event. In that case, our biggest goal is to ensure that the host does as little work as possible and enjoys the occasion just like everyone else.
What’s your favourite restaurant?
Bloke & 4th…am I allowed to say that?! The thing about Bloke is that many people still view it as a club instead of a restaurant when it is in fact both. Other than that, I love Campagnolo and Rodney’s Oyster House, which has been a favourite for years.
What’s your favourite drink?
Either a Negroni or a mojito.
What can always be found in your fridge?
Dijon mustard and hot sauce.
What’s your favourite thing to cook for yourself?
When I cook for myself, it is all about the comfort food. This usually means anything brazed and hearty. I make a lot of stews and soups.
How do you stay fit and healthy?
Staying fit is not easy a chef because you’re constantly trying food and all the other dudes’ food. I try to only taste small amounts. Working out is key for physical and mental reasons. Playing hockey helps also…especially when you have had a tough night on the line! 🙂
What is your perfect Sunday?
Taking it down a notch and spending time with my lovely girlfriend and our three dogs. We will usually have a nice brunch or dinner together.