In Montreal’s culinary scene, Andrew Bambino the Executive Chef and Partner of Jegantic Hospitality Group stands out with his innovation and dedication. Overseeing five restaurants and set to launch three more in 2024, his influence is notable. Among the upcoming ventures is the addition of The Farsides’ second location, bringing together 90s hip-hop vibes and Thai fusion cuisine at Quartier Dix30 in Brossard. The eagerly anticipated grand opening of a luxurious Cantonese restaurant scheduled for the summer of 2024, and lastly, the highly anticipated Bambino, an upscale Italian establishment nestled within the new $50 million Sonder hotel, located in the heart of Old Montreal. Foodbuy spoke to Chef Andrew to understand his journey, challenges, insights, and vision for the future.Profile shot of Chef Andrew Bambino

Andrew was born and raised in an Italian household where good food was a way of life. This is where his culinary passions began. Inspired by his Nonna’s culinary talent, he found himself drawn to the kitchen. Starting as a part-time dishwasher in a small trendy Italian restaurant at just 16, he realized that his true calling was in the culinary arts.

For Andrew, the love for food served as the driving force behind his pursuit of excellence. Beyond cooking, Andrew found fulfillment in designing and managing kitchens, developing upcoming talents, and overcoming everyday challenges. It’s his passion for the industry and desire to shape future cooks into chefs that has kept him inspired and motivated.

Andrew, like many other chefs, shared that one of the biggest challenges is finding dedicated and hardworking staff who want to enter the foodservice industry to learn and grow through the ranks of the profession. Andrew notes that the glorified portrayal of cooking on social media, doesn’t reflect the realities of life in the kitchen. However, Andrew embraces the challenge of aligning his staff’s expectations with reality and is committed to mentoring and his team to their full potential. This relationship helps Andrew retain his crew of hardworking cooks.

According to Andrew, cooking is simple. Despite the trends of complex techniques and elaborate presentations, he advocates for simplicity and authenticity. For him, good cooking lies in the basics – quality ingredients, skillful execution, and a touch of creativity. In an era of culinary experimentation and fusion, Andrew predicts a return to basics. Simple, uncomplicated cooking is set to make a comeback, as seasoned chefs are beginning to favour timeless classics over complicated cooking.

We asked Andrew to share his advice with other Foodbuy Members on how to make the most of Foodbuy’s available purchasing and rebate programs. He emphasized the importance of being organized and developing a strategic approach to purchasing. By creating a buying strategy with Foodbuy, businesses can improve their profitability and efficiency. Many restaurants, he noted, fall into the trap of relying on multiple small vendors, which can lead to vulnerability and challenges in controlling quality and pricing. Instead, he suggested working with Foodbuy to analyze past purchases and forecast future needs, to strategically select items from vendors that are offering the best value. By working with Foodbuy, he has successfully obtained high-quality products at significantly reduced costs.

Beyond the kitchen, Jegantic Hospitality Group is dedicated to making a positive impact on the community. Through initiatives like “One Magic Moment,” a charity event aimed at brightening the lives of deserving children during the holiday season, they strive to spread joy and inspiration.

With a blend of passion, innovation, and community spirit, Chef Andrew Bambino continues to shape the culinary landscape, one delicious dish at a time. Andrew notes that, “We have an extraordinarily hard working team behind Jegantic, led by CEO and visionary John Gumbley.  With John challenging the team to reach new heights combined with his vision for unique concepts and quest for perfection, Jegantic is set to become a leader in the hospitality space. The group has been continuously growing since the pandemic and has no plans to slow down.”

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