Entrepreneurial Spotlight

Celebrity Chef Mark McEwan is Always Looking Forward

A lot needs to get done in one day. ‘A day in the life’ follows some of the world’s most innovative leaders, and details how they manage everything from exercise to employee relationships.

Written by Chris Metler

Mark McEwan has never been content to rest on his laurels. From his formative years as executive chef at Toronto’s upscale Sutton Place Hotel (Canada’s youngest ever, at that) to trendy resto bar Fabbrica (his most recent endeavour), McEwan has stood at the forefront of Toronto’s dining scene for many years. And that goes without mentioning his groundbreaking work at acclaimed, high-end city staples like North 44, Bymark and ONE.

Employing food as the fundamental palate for his immeasurable creativity and energy, the man has even added gourmet grocer and television personality to his long list of talents. Experience the former at McEwan’s growing empire of eponymous produce markets, or witness the latter on popular programs like Chopped Canada and Top Chef Canada.

He even clears time to promote corporate social responsibility, personally donating to hundreds of charities each and every year, while officially supporting Second Harvest and The Sunnybrook Foundation via The McEwan Group.

Here, a typical day in the always enterprising, never feckless life of Chef Mark McEwan.

5.00 a.m. I wake up and make coffee usually right away — three long espressos! I read the The Globe and Mail while I drink a homemade protein shake, then do a little social media catch-up.

6.30 a.m. I workout for approximately 45 minutes.

8.00 a.m. Emails! This sets the pace for the day and typically there is a lot of messaging. I try to not send or reply to messages when I’m up at 5 a.m., because I know a lot of people sleep with their phones and I want to be conscious of this.

9:00 a.m. I hit the office at Don Mills where I usually have coffee number four at the McEwan Café. I then tour the store [ and move into discussions with my assistant, then with key managers. Typically, I have my agenda worked out the night before as to the priorities of the day, which can sometimes be separate tasks from my set schedule. Being that Fabbrica is next door, it’s easy to keep a close eye on the restaurant. I pop in before doors open to oversee the kitchen.

11.00 a.m. I head downtown to McEwan’s TD location, review the store and meet with key staff. Recently I have been quite busy with the new Fabbrica location in the TD Centre. Since it is across from McEwan TD, I check on construction, as well have a long look at ByMark and again connect with all key people. I like to hang around and watch the lunch between McEwan and Bymark, talk with clients and just connect with the flow. You learn a lot by listening and watching guests.

1.00 p.m. I typically have a few meetings booked around this time, which will happen at ONE Restaurant at the Hazelton Hotel. This also gives me the opportunity to see the operations and connect with all key people. Meetings in my company are short and to the point; I’m not a fan of repetitive meetings cycles.  Being able to text and connect quickly is a huge advantage especially when I am overseeing a few different properties.

4.00 p.m. It’s always good to have nothing to do at some point in your day, which always you to think clearly as to what you’re up to and how to get there — the business goals. I’m a bit of a daydreamer and enjoy just thinking about what’s in front of me. As a chef today and a business person with seven operations and two new ones on the way, there is always something calling out to you for attention.

7.00 p.m. I will typically visit one of the operations or visit an off-site event or restaurant.

8.00 p.m. I’m typically home on an average day. Honestly, at this stage in my life, I don’t need to be at every event. I pick and choose wisely. Warren Buffett once said the only thing he couldn’t buy was time. I never forgot that statement.

10.00 p.m. – 5.00 a.m. Dream about the biz and the one that got away…