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At Saul Good, every day we make friends with supremely talented and passionate people who create the most delectable delicacies and confections in Canada. We’ve asked them to share their inspiring stories with us.

Today we're talking to David Chow. 
David is one of Toronto's top pastry chefs and chocolatiers. A former engineer, he applies both his technical and artistic skills to produce unique hand-crafted products using the best local ingredients. Drawing from his lengthy tenures as Executive Pastry Chef at hotels and restaurants in Toronto and abroad, he continues to push the boundaries of chocolate and confections. 

Photo Credit: David Chow

Why and when did you start your company? 
I made the switch from Systems Design Engineering to Pastry around 2003, when the tech bubble burst. I decided to formalize my love of cooking by going to culinary school. I worked long and hard to become Exec Pastry Chef at kitchens in Toronto and abroad. A few years ago I decided it was time to break out on my own. Back then, the chocolate scene in Toronto was just beginning. It has been amazing to see new chocolatiers proliferate here and across the country, many of which can compete on the world stage.



Photo Credit: David Chow

What inspires your work? 
I love helping my guests understand the nuances of different chocolates. Chocolate is greatly influenced by where it’s grown, just like wine and coffee. Depending on its source, chocolate has a dizzying array of flavours, from fruity and acidic to nutty and woody.

What sets you apart from similar companies? 
I try to differentiate myself from others by incorporating the best of local ingredients with the best chocolate, and by creating chocolates and confections with unique (but delicious) flavour combinations like buckwheat, honey, fennel, lavender and blackcurrant.  There will always be a place for classic flavour combinations like milk chocolate, sea salt and peanut, but it's fun to challenge people's palates.



Photo Credit: David Chow

What values drive you? 
Quality and consistency are the most important. I guess those are holdovers from my engineering days, when they were drilled into me, and have been reinforced by chefs I have worked with over the years. It's interesting to see the similarities between the two professions in that way. Innovation is also important, especially as the market gets more crowded with great products. You have to be careful with innovation, though, as it is easy to descend into gimmickry.


Photo Credit: David Chow

What are you most proud of? 

The fact that I’m able to make a living doing something that I love.

What are people most surprised about when you tell them about your company?

That I gave up a job in the tech world to pursue pastry. I actually find it more prevalent these days for people to leave their day jobs to pursue kitchen work.

Where do you get inspiration for new products? 
From eating! One week I may taste a honey from a new producer at a farmer's market, and I’ll incorporate it into a new truffle. The next week I might be inspired by the flavour combinations in a savoury dish I am eating.  There seem to be new local products all the time, so there is always lots to discover.

Photo Credit: David Chow
What makes the ingredients you source special? 
I use the best of local ingredients -- things like Stirling butter, Pilot coffee, Rosewood honey, Sloane tea, Blackbird sourdough, Ernest hard cider, Prince Edward County lavender and herbs, Dillon's gin, Ontario fruits and vegetables. I love supporting and collaborating with other local artisans in the community, and championing the best our city has to offer.

What’s the toughest part of your work? 
Most days, I work by myself in the kitchen. I miss the camaraderie, teamwork and social aspect of working as part of a team in a kitchen or hotel. As an entrepreneur, having a work-life balance can be tough. It’s also hard to not eat everything I make!


Where do you want to go next with your business? What’s your goal?

I hope to open up a retail shop, once I find the perfect location and price. I’d like to have a dedicated place to produce my products, and to be able to interact with guests to help them pick the best products.

Photo Credit: David Chow

What’s your favourite album right now? 
My musical tastes are all over the place, but I have been listening to k.d. lang's Ingenue. I recently attended one of her shows, and was blown away. I also recently discovered Mode Moderne, and have been steadily going through their tracks.

What book(s) are you reading? 
I am heading to Japan next year (for the fourth time) so I am currently reading Super Sushi Ramen Express by Michael Booth. It’s about his journey through Japan with his wife and two young kids in tow as he explores the amazing cuisine there. I can't wait to go back and eat EVERYTHING!

What is your favourite local restaurant right now, and why? 
This is a tough one as there are so many amazing choices in the city. The resto I've been to over and over again is Maple Leaf Tavern on Gerrard. My favourites are anything from the wood-fired grill, especially the mutton chops and hasselback potatoes. I also love it when the weather is cold so I can go on ramen-eating binges around town.

What’s your favourite local neighbourhood, and why? 
I love the area that I live in (midtown) as it's the best of both worlds. It's a quieter area, but I am only a 10-minute subway ride to downtown. I have amazing restaurants, coffee shops and food stores all around me.   


Where do you like to travel the most, and why? 
As with everything, the answer revolves around eating. I will go anywhere and everywhere there is great food, whether it's a tourist restaurant or a run-down out-of-the-way spot.  Recently I'd have to say Montreal and Chicago, which are two of the best food cities (including Toronto, of course).




Gift: C-Sweet