Adrian Niman Has a Flair for Food
While most kids grew up watching cartoons on TV, Adrian Niman, B.Comm ’07 (HAFA), was watching cooking shows like the Urban Peasant. His childhood fascination with food was more than just a passing phase. An apprenticeship at Mark McEwan’s North 44 restaurant in Toronto whetted Niman’s appetite for a culinary career at the age of 16. “That’s when I really started to appreciate food and everything that went into it,” he says.
In 2005, Niman started his own catering company called The Food Dudes, which specializes in artfully-prepared dishes made from scratch using local ingredients. One of The Food Dudes’ biggest claims to fame was catering the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. Their poutine, which featured doubleblanched fries with a 24-hour braised brisket gravy, smoked mozzarella curds and diced tomatoes, was crowned the “dish of the film fest” by the National Post.
Niman uses food to express his creative side. “There’s no limit or boundary to food,” he says. “You can always do something different. You can always take a new approach or use a new technique or add a new flavour.”
He blends an experimental approach to food with a more traditional approach to cooking. “I’m really into slow cooking and letting the flavours develop,” he says, adding that his team often starts preparing dishes the night before a big event.
Fast food is a four-letter word that you won’t find in Niman’s vocabulary. The convenience of takeout comes at the expense of quality ingredients, he says. “The issue is there are no nutrients. The ingredients aren’t coming from Ontario or Canada for that matter. That’s my biggest concern with fast food. We don’t know where these ingredients are coming from.”
Niman puts his money where his mouth is, ordering beef from Guelph and fresh produce from Cherryvale Organic Farm in Prince Edward County.
Looking back on his student days, he says: “The best courses at Guelph are the hands-on ones,” referring to a fourth-year course he took with Prof. Stephen Lynch, School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, which involved a case study of a failing restaurant and looked at ways to improve it.
With a successful catering company under his belt, Niman plans to launch his own restaurant next year. His recipe for success has just two ingredients: passion and hard work. “If you love what you’re doing, you won’t want to be doing anything else.”