Blunt Inquiry Asks... Chef Scott Vivian
What is your idea of a perfect restaurant?
A place that harmonizes with the precise balance of atomsphere, food, drink and service.
What is your greatest fear at work?
People not liking the food.
Which working Chef do you most admire?
Grant Achatz. His dedication and drive is something very inspiring.
What would instantly make you fire someone?
I have no patience for disrespect to their fellow cooks. Everyone works really hard in the kitchen and if you don't get along, someone's gotta go.
What was your most extravagant purchase for your restaurant?
I wouldn't call it extravagant, but finally buying a vac-pac machine and circulator was a big deal for us after 4 years limited purchasing. Totally worth every penny though!
What is your favourite food journey?
For my 30th birthday I traveled to Belgium, Spain, Alsace, Switzerland and Alba. I had the amazing opportunity (on that trip) to eat at Etxeberri and Mugaritz in Spain, as well as go truffle hunting and visit the truffle market in Alba. Lot's of good food on that trip.
What words or phrases do you most overuse at work?
I use "Go F*** Yourself" way too much.
What do you regret most after all your years in the business?
I don't ever really regret any life decisions. I think when I was a younger cook, I would have liked to stage at more restaurants, but I'm pretty happy with the way everything has turned out.
What do you love most about this industry?
Everything. The hours. The people. Getting to take care of guests. The grind. There are obviously factors that can use some tweaking, but all in all, I find this industry absolutely fulfilling.
What is your current state of mind?
We're making some changes in the kitchen right now which allows me to lend more guidance with the dinner menu. After concentrating more on the business side of things for the last year and a half, I'm very excited to start creating again.
If you could change anything about the restaurant industry where you are, what would it be?
I'm pretty happy with the way things are going currently going in Toronto. I think with the rapidly growing population of Toronto, we still have a very small percentage of diners that support local (non-chain) restaurants. It's definitely getting better every year. The two biggest things for me are restaurants not being able to serve wild game and the prices of food and alcohol in Canada. I think in general it's very difficult to be a small business owner in Ontario. There are a lot of laws and taxes that are not in our favour.
What do you consider your most essential ingredient?
Salt and Love.
The work/life balance struggle is real. How good of a juggler are you?
I'm pretty bad at juggling the two. Pretty much everything that I do revolves around the restaurant industry. It's what I love and wouldn't change it for the world, but isn't always appealing to people outside the industry.
What is your most treasured kitchen tool?
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Putting all of your heart and soul into something and feeling under appreciated.
When you finally retire, were will you live?
Retire? What's that? Sounds boring...
What is your most marked characteristic?
I don't know. You'd have to ask someone that works for me.
What is the quality you most like in a chef?
Compassion and understanding. Not only with your staff, but with your guests. Yes, at times people can be a giant pain in the ass, but at the end of the day we do this for a reason. The low pay, huge stress and long hours are all justified when you see a smile on a patrons face while eating your food or a cook proudly putting a dish up on the pass.
What is your greatest inspiration/motivation?
Making people happy.
Superman or Spiderman?
What is the first thing you remember cooking?
Pasta e fagioli. I was around 12 or 13 and I was checking out this new thing called the internet. I happened to come across a recipe for this dish, printed it out and brought it to my mom and grandmother. They talked me through the recipe and allowed me to make it for dinner that night. I felt such a sense of accomplishment and gratification. From that moment on, I was hooked!
Beck or Clapton?
You have to cook Escoffier’s death row meal. Menu?
I would create a 5-course tasting menu. Each course would represent/highlight one of the mother sauces.
Favourite kitchen word or phrase?