Olivia Bolano: Executive Chef, The Kitchen, 1186 Queen St West

  1. What does a typical Thursday look like for you, starting from when you wake up-to heading to bed?

    I wake up naturally around 9 am, but I stay in bed till about 9:30 just thinking about the day ahead. I’m out the door for 10:15ish and run over to the Starbucks across the street for a grande bold coffee—black, of course, and head on over down the street to catch the subway. I’m at the restaurant by 11 o’clockish to receive deliveries. I check the reservation book, catch up on email, phone calls, paper work and get some prep done while I wait for Raven, my partner in crime, to arrive at 2:30 pm. A pre-shift pow-wow takes place between us over some more coffee, and then we get down to cooking. The front of the house staff arrives between 4 and 5 pm, as well as my dishwasher, and we have staff meal ready for them for 5:30 pm. By 6 pm, the restaurant should be all set up and ready for service, which runs till 11 pm. By this time, the bar crowd fills up the restaurant. After clean-up and closing duties are complete, I call in orders for the next day/weekend. A post-shift cocktail is often had, and it must be said how oh so good a vodka soda with a lime garnish tastes after a busy night. I’m usually home for 1 am, and dreaming about food immediately after.

  1. What was your first job out of school?

    Weeks after graduating from chef’s school, I got a job working the salad and cold apps station at Auberge du Pommier which is a restaurant under the Oliver Bonacini umbrella.

  2. What are the three skills you require most to do your job well?

    a) Listen and take direction well. In a profession where you are racing against the clock, you have to be able to take the constructive criticisms, the pointers and all the suggestions and apply them immediately after they are given.

    b) The ability to excercise creativity and imagination. Thinking outside of the box and experimenting with flavours and different ingredients is a way to produce an original dish. Putting a modern twist to an old school classic can be achieved by first having an appreciation and a respect for cuisine and its cultural traditions, and having the drive and the passion to execute your contemporary version.

    c) The capability to role with the punches. As much as you plan plan plan, no matter how organized and prepaired you are, you MUST always expect the unexpected and be able to adapt to whatever comes your way. Never sit still.

  3. What do you love most about your career?

    There are countless reasons why I absolutely love what I do for a living, but because I can only choose one, I would say what I’m most grateful for about being a chef is that it fuels my appreciation for other cultures. It’s because of this growing interest that I can draw upon inspiration in my own work, which I can honestly say has also influenced my life outside of the kitchen.

  4. If a woman wanted to get into this business, what are your recommendations of how they should start?

    Start in the prep kitchen. It’s the perfect place to learn about ingredients and basic recipes and hone your knife skills.

  5. Do you have any warnings?

    The hospitality industry has the complete opposite schedule than the nine-to-fivers. What that means is that weekends are in the middle of the working week, “summer vacations” are in March and expect to work holidays.

  6. If you could try a different career on for a year, what would it be?

    I would love to try to be a professional competitive dancer. I’ve been watching too much “So You Think You Can Dance” or “Dancing with The Stars” lately, and I would love to be able to strut my stuff on stage doing a Mia Michaels lyrical peice or a Wade Robson jazz routine. It is something that I would love to put more time into in the future.

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