Home Grown Talent: Yannick Bigourdan

He is the man behind some of the most popular dining destinations in Toronto – previously Splendido and Nota Bene; currently The Carbon Bar; and coming soon Union Chicken! On top of Toronto’s restaurant scene, he has also brought Loding to Canada – a Parisian menswear boutique retailing men’s shoes and accessories.

An entrepreneur, philanthropist and family man – well known for his charitable ties and family-first attitude; he is one of the most business savvy men in Toronto who is also recognized for his style, often featured in the society pages for trendsetting, alongside renowned talents including George Clooney during TIFF. He has hosted private dinners with notables, including former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and the Commissioner, to name a few.

When it comes to entrepreneurship, he believes persistence is the key to progress.

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Where did you grow up?

In the South of France, near the Spanish border.

Why did you decide to work for yourself and what would you say has contributed to your success the most?

After working for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, I had a wonderful opportunity to open a restaurant in Toronto at the age of 26. I always knew that deep inside I wanted to run my own business.

How did the various business opportunities you are involved in come about?

Lots of hustling around and meeting the right minded people.

With The Carbon Bar, Loding TO and soon Union Chicken – how do you maintain a work/life balance?

I work a lot but I try to work smart. “Do it well, do it once” is something that I like to remind myself often. I need physical activities daily to let go of all the stress that might come my way, I do triathlons, play tennis and golf and water ski. The weekends are always spent with my wife and kids.

What are you core values when it comes to business ethics? How do you apply these values to your life outside of work?

I am always trying to be fair. I believe that to gain something more than one party should win; be tough but be respectful.

What has been the most rewarding part of being an entrepreneur – establishing a start-up or continuing to make it a success?

The most difficult thing is for other people to see and understand your vision. You have to be the ultimate sales man! Ivan Fecan, a former CEO of Globe Media has had a great deal of influence on me. Amongst other things he taught me to surround myself with people I could trust.

What are a few key lifestyle habits you try and follow on a daily basis?

Daily work out, but not at the gym, swim, ride or run. Try to stay away from the Deep fried Chicken we serve at The Carbon Bar… not so easily done!

From entrepreneur to successful businessman, how has your style evolved over the years?

I used to wear a suit everyday. No exception! For the past eight years or so, I dressed down quite a bit but my daily minimum requirement is as follows: crisp shirt (from Loding), a comfortable pair of Denim, a sport Jacket most likely by Boss and of course a pair of Loding shoes – I own about 70 pairs, not sure if I should even mention that.