THE BLOG

Inspiration Is No Further Than Your Own Backyard

05/21/2013 12:27 EDT | Updated 08/13/2013 05:12 EDT

Spring is one of my favourite times of year, not only as a chef, but as a Torontonian. Farms and cities awaken, and naturally creativity begins to burst at the seams with the first glimpse of a wild leek or the start of our local farmers market. The darker days and comfort food make way for a lighter fresher menu and a new found energy drives us all to new accomplishments.

Our story is unique in that Campagnolo is not only part of the neighbourhood but it has helped to shape the community in which we also live. Alex and I have a greater sense of pride because of it, and I believe that all we are all pushing each other to new heights.

We love and chose Dundas West because it was in transition and it was slowly becoming home to a number of creative people and like-minded individuals. Having such a diverse group of vendors -- from butchers to fish mongers, bakers to coffee roasters and the most amazing seasonal farmers market -- makes my job as a chef that much easier.

It's this type of relationship with your suppliers that gives us the freshest and best possible ingredients. The real satisfaction is that you genuinely have the feeling that you are working with people who care about each other. The fact that we also get to host our neighbours and fellow colleagues into our dining room at Campagnolo every night makes us an incredibly proud bunch!

Now all of this requires some hard work and certainly effective time management. Being able to run all of my errands in a short window allows me more time behind the stoves, which is crucial when we change the menu as often as we do.

What I love about Toronto is that it is undergoing a certain culinary renaissance. The dining landscape has really opened up, and the proliferation of smaller chef-owned restaurants has certainly raised the bar for dining out in our city. When you factor the multicultural fabric of our urban centre and the sheer number of passionate young restaurateurs that are making waves, it is easy to understand why I believe that this city is the most exciting place to eat in Canada right now! I truly feel that I need to look no further than my own backyard for inspiration.

For me, all this success could not have been achieved without a great team behind me, but most importantly the support I get every day at home. Never underestimate the value of a good work/life balance, because sometimes the best ideas can be found in the swirl of coffee and cream in Trinity Bellwoods Park.