I was fortunate enough to meet Chef Fabio Watanabe on a recent trip to Rio De Janeiro. He graduated from the prestigious Culinary Arts Academy of Switzerland in 2010 and owns Caqui Bistro, as well as a wine bar and a food market along with other concerns just outside of San Paulo in Mogi das Cruzes, Brazil. He impressed me as a young, accomplished and driven entrepreneur, and a fabulous, incredible Doer. We both have a love of good food and great conversation. We hit it off immediately.
There is one other key element to Chef Fabio that helped us bond so quickly and that is his quest for healthy food. He is devoted to using his considerable skills to make food more healthy.
The morning after I met him, we met again to discuss how food can be healthier and better for you, and he brought me three bags of popular Brazilian chips to try. These chips are made of Mandioca, pronounced “Mon-dgee-oka, (also known as yucca root or cassava root.) Mandioca, or cassava, is plentiful in the Southern Hemisphere and a food-staple in Brazil. The key is that it does not contain gluten or lectins which can cause allergies and inflammation. He also couldn’t wait for me to try a sample of a superb tasting hypo-allergenic pizza crust he had made to share with me.
So he has now joined our team working on making a healthy pizza and he has put it on the menu in his restaurant to perfect. My feeling is he will be celebrated for making the pizza a healthy and wholesome dinner option for the American palate. YEAH!
[tweetthis]Food is an excuse for socialization and joy. This was my inspiration to become a chef. [/tweetthis]
Chef Fabio is humble, kind and has a child-like heart––but the roar of a lion as an entrepreneur and a Doer. He is definitely one of you incredible and extraordinary people and because of who he is, I wanted you to hear his story, so I asked him a few questions and below are his answers…
Anthony: What inspired you to become a chef?
Chef Fabio: Food is an excuse for socialization, happiness and joy. Having the opportunity to offer all of this to people was my inspiration to become a chef.
Anthony: Was your family big into food and cooking?
Chef Fabio: I’m half Italian and half Japanese but born in Brazil so food was always important in our family! My dad always worked far from where we lived and used to come for dinner at 10:00pm. Dinner was a big thing at home. Everybody would wait for him and have a lovely meal together cooked by my mom or grandma.
Anthony: What about your family roots furthered your inspiration to cook?
Chef Fabio: I remember watching cooking shows on TV with my grandma. She was always asking me to write the recipes for her. At evening she would cook it for all the family. Traditional Italian recipes and traditional Japanese recipes were the specials of the family meetings. I remember how proud my grandpa was when I tried different fruits he brought from the fresh market and how happy my dad always was when he told his friends his sons were not picky about food.
[tweetthis]Dinner was a big thing at home. Everybody would have a lovely meal cooked by my mom or grandma.[/tweetthis]
Anthony: You have accomplished so much. Can you tell us about your individual operations from the restaurant to the bakery, wine bar, etc. and what inspired you to continue to building your company?
Chef Fabio: After working for other business, I started my own restaurant with 2 people on the front and 2 in the back. The restaurant grew up fast and I started opening other business: a bakery, a pastry shop, a wine bar and a food store, plus my consultancy company. I was actually very happy professionally, but I was worried about the future of my employees: How will they improve? How they will grow financially and professionally? So I started creating other businesses to give them a chance to grow with me.
[tweetthis]Every business is full of “if” so don’t think too much: Start it![/tweetthis]
Anthony: What is next for you?
Chef Fabio: I’m planning to open another restaurant and to expand the food store.
Anthony: How does your family play a role?
Chef Fabio: Family is all for me. My wife is always supporting me (or holding me back when needed!) and my dad was always supporting me. Unfortunately, he passed away a year ago. As my mom passed away 14 years ago, my younger brother came to live with me and now works in our business, too. It is a relief to have my brother working beside me.
Anthony: What advice would you give other young entrepreneurs around the world?
Chef Fabio: Put your project down on paper but don’t wait too long to start it. Every business is full of “if” so don’t think too much: Start it!
Anthony: What are some key learnings?
Chef Fabio: Learning how to deal with people is the most important thing for a successful business for me. Having a good team is better than having a good recipe is what I think.
Anthony: What would you say is one of the most important things for them to focus on?
Chef Fabio: Focus on their real passion. Whether it is to cook or to solve the water problem on the earth, do what your really love to do.
Anthony: What else would you like people to know about Chef Fabio?
Chef Fabio: I’m married to my first love. I am the dad of twin girls and a baby boy. I started competing in the culinary world after I gave up on basketball because of injury. I joined the most important culinary contest in 2013, the Bocuse d’Or.
I hope you enjoyed reading about Chef Fabio and his unique and interesting take on life, food and building a business you love. I hope also that you will find something to take away (ha ha, pun fully intended!) to use as you continue to build your own incredible and extraordinary life.