George Brown alumni in the running for top restaurant

EnRoute award honours our favourite places to eat

Image of Nick Liu at the DaiLo restaurant in a t-shirt with its logo

Nick Liu at the DaiLo restaurant in a t-shirt with its logo | Photo: Aliona Kuts / The Dialog staff

Two George Brown College (GBC) chef’s school alumni, Nick Liu and Rob Gentile, have been nominated for Canada’s best new restaurant. The annual people’s choice award is held by Air Canada’s EnRoute travel magazine to praise the top 10 restaurants countrywide.

EnRoute has over one million readers monthly and is distributed on Air Canada flights as well as at selected airline lounges, hotels, restaurants and boutiques around the world.

Liu, who graduated from the culinary management program in 1995, now runs DaiLo, a Chinese restaurant that follows French traditions. The restaurant opened in August 2014 and, according to Liu, has been extremely busy ever since.

“For me it is the most important award you can get. Their list is international; everyone who flies Air Canada will read it and make a list of places to dine in Toronto before even hitting the ground,” Liu said about the EnRoute nomination.

As a student, Liu was always at the top of his class, attending the college before John Higgins took over with renovations and investments. “It (GBC) was nothing like it looks now. I wish I went to the school now because the facilities are amazing.”

One of the greatest things GBC gave Liu, was an externship at Scaramouche, which, he said, “ended up as a full-time job for nine years.” To this day, Liu has very close connections with the college, in fact, most of his team are GBC graduates. He also has two interns from the chef’s school. Finally, he is assisting with developing a new international program at the college focused on Asian cuisine.

“Work hard, stay humble, put yourself under a lot of stress and don’t try to run before you can walk,” suggested Liu to current chef students.

“It’s always an honour to be on a top-10 list, especially for enRoute, because they are a big part of spreading the word of all the wonderful restaurants we have in our country,” commented Gentile on his third (2010 and 2014) nomination.

Gentile, another culinary management graduate (’98), is now the executive chef of three prominent Toronto restaurants, an active participant of the Restaurants For Change initiative and a supporter of Second Harvest, the largest food rescue program in Canada, which he has been enrolled with for 18 years.

As a student, Gentile said, he focused mainly on cooking skills and underestimated two important things — the value of food and the business operation angle of the program.

“My fondest memory of going to the chef’s school is giving out the food I made to homeless people on the streets on my way to the train. The expression of their faces, when you see somebody’s face light up excited about the food, is the reason why I cook,” added Gentile.

Voting is in progress at eatandvote.com/en. Winners will be announced in the November issue of the magazine. Voters have the chance of winning a trip for two to the nominated restaurant and $500 in cash.

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George Brown alumni in the running for top restaurant