Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Celeb Chef Mark McEwan Dishes on Effect of Food Television on Industry

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Celeb Chef Mark McEwan Dishes on Effect of Food Television on Industry

Article excerpt

Celeb chef Mark McEwan dishes on food industry

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TORONTO - Food television has created a groundswell of attention to the restaurant game, says chef Mark McEwan, who was head judge on the culinary contest show "Top Chef Canada."

But young people pursuing a career as a chef often have a big surprise when they get into the business and realize how busy service can be.

McEwan, who owns four restaurants in Toronto -- North 44, One, Fabbrica and Bymark -- also hosted "The Heat" on Food Network Canada, a look behind the scenes at his restaurant and catering business along with the building of his first upscale gourmet food store, McEwan, which opened in 2009.

McEwan, also author of two cookbooks, said he did "the pass" every night till he was age 47, a high-pressure role that involves monitoring orders and the quality and presentation of the food as it goes out of the kitchen to patrons.

"And now I see guys and they're 32 and they're not doing the pass anymore and they have a chef de cuisine and it's like 'I'm past it all now.' You know what? You've got to stay in the game," he said in an interview last month at the culinary conference Terroir Symposium.

McEwan, now 58, stays on top of his game running his company, the McEwan Group with a staff of 500, which includes catering and the upcoming opening of a second store in downtown Toronto.

"You have to always be messaging, always be talking to your people, always creating culture and then refining the food, refining the conversation," he added.

CP: Does food television give viewers a false sense of the business?

McEwan: It's very strenuous work. It's long hours, longer than most hours, tougher conditions. You're working weekends. Your service can last five hours and that's rigorous. It's athletic. It's hard -- if you're in a busy restaurant.

But then I think there's a lot of places for young kids to go other than the restaurant business, so getting into food styling, they're getting into the catering business, they're getting into institutional work. …

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