It can sooth you when you’re angry. Console you when you’re upset. Warm you when you’re cold. And nourish you back to health. Grandma used to say it could stick to your ribs. It’s a simple but elegant food that starts to work its magic right from those first wisps of wonderful aroma rising from the bowl. It’s Soup.
And Fab Natale has mastered the art of creating wonderful soups. Rising every day at a time many of us would consider the middle of the night Fab produces over 150 litres of made-from-scratch, downright delicious soup, and loves doing it.
Sourcing fresh ingredients and local in-season produce is his focus as well as “doing the right thing” by using compostable containers at Bolton’s Soup du Jour even though the expense is a bit higher.
Fab and his wife Roberta opened their first restaurant Chef Talk Bistro in a small plaza on the west side of Queen Street a number of years ago. And before long they saw a pattern. “Here we were in a big space with fancy tablecloths, cutlery and glasses and people were coming in every day for a bowl of our soup” Fab explains. We realized that a great bowl of soup for lunch was something lots of people wanted”.
Roberta got to work looking for a location and when 170 McEwan Drive East grabbed her attention she knew that was the spot. And Soup du Jour was born. “She did everything” says Fab, “Roberta found the location, did all the set-up. I really give her all the credit. All I do is make the soup”.
And make soups he certainly does….with root veggies, fresh kale and other greens, seafood, about half a dozen choices per day. Healthy, tasty, fresh-made daily, and even catering to special diets like gluten free. And, as the clientele has grown, so has the menu. Soup du Jour now offers salads, sandwiches, wraps, gourmet pizza and smoothies.
Asked how he found himself in the food industry Fab chuckles. “Well, back in school when the guidance counselor asked me what I liked to do I said I like to cook for my dad. He said like what? I said I make things like fresh fettuccine, chicken masala, pasta fagioli, and gnocchi. He said come back tomorrow, and when I did he had all these pamphlets about cooking school.”
“Now remember” Fab points out, “in 1989 cooking was not really a big thing. There was Galloping Gourmet and Wok with Yan on TV, and that was about it. But I went with the idea and completed a 3-year course in 2 years. I actually landed a job as Executive Chef at the Da Vinci Banquet Hall in my first year. I used to do the ordering for the weekend from college, from the office”.
Fab speaks extremely proudly of Roberta who, as a mature student, recently graduated from University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Arts with High Distinction. “She’s incredibly smart. She put so much effort into that, often staying up half the night working”.
And together the energetic couple have seen the restaurant has bloom as well.
Looking to franchise, the Natales found Ness Daniel for the Bolton location. A second location has already opened this year at Islington and Bloor, with a Newmarket location soon to follow, a Brampton location coming on-stream late fall, and a Scarborough one hopefully before year end.
“The ground floor is now,” says Fab. “Right now I’m not looking for exorbitant franchise fees, royalties or percentages. I’m looking for people who love to do this. The franchise fee is very reasonable and my ongoing revenue will come from an agreement where each restaurant has to buy their soups from us; just the soups and 2 or 3 other products. The rest can vary. Buying the soup from us ensures consistent, quality product for our customers and provides a revenue stream for us”.
“I think there is a growing emphasis on healthy eating. People are becoming more educated and conscientious about the nutritional content of their food. Do you know our soups only contain 62 milligrams of sodium per half-litre” Fab adds proudly. “Compare that to a can of soup!”
Visit Soup du Jour at:
170 McEwan Drive East, Bolton
1243 Islington Avenue, Etobicoke
Reach Fab Natale at firstname.lastname@example.org