Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Julian Pancer, Co-Owner of The Chef Upstairs, located in Toronto, ON, CA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

The Chef Upstairs is an interactive cooking experience and catering company. We have two locations in the GTA, hosting group classes and private parties. We also host intimate parties in guests' homes.

Tell us about yourself

The Chef Upstairs creates delicious memories with the help of a team of charismatic, professionally trained chefs. We bring the food experience from the chef to the guest with no wall in between. Chefs and guests cook together while discussing the food and having fun. Chefs are always eager to share their passion for their craft, and these experiences allow our chefs to do just that!

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

As a business owner, I have the pleasure of paying our staff above the living wage while creating a positive and fulfilling work environment. As a chef for many years, I can make the kind of workplace I always dreamed of working in myself.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

The hardest part of being a business owner is the fact that we are in the business of people, run by people. I love this fact, but we are not machines and should not be treated as machines. I take a lot of responsibility as an employer of people and try to make sure all employees are happy and have the support and tools necessary to love coming to work.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Hire well, train well, delegate, and support.
  2. Don't try to do everything on your own. have the right people to support you. (See answer #1 above)
  3. Compartmentalize. Work is work. Personal is personal. Maintain as much separation as possible.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

  1. You can be rich or famous. Choose wisely.
  2. How much money do you need to make? Consider that paying someone an additional $10,000/year out of your pocket may make you infinitely happier and better balanced.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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