Alumni Feature | Tim Otsuki | Class of 2002

June 11, 2020

From the Stratford Chefs School, Tim Otsuki‘s culinary career has taken him around the world, evolving with each dish and each cuisine, from Hong Kong, to the Caribbean to Toronto, and back to Stratford; Chef Otsuki is eager to share the cross cultural fusion of freely adapted recipes from his own experiences at his restaurant The Common, where the motto is: Eat Without Borders.

As 2017 was winding down to a close, Otsuki opened his 40-seat restaurant in Stratford. It was an answer to a simple question he had been thinking about: do I live to work, or work to live?

In a previous life, the Stratford-born future chef had spent time in mechanical engineering – and at a job that prompted him to ask the question in the first place. “After a couple of years, I realized it wasn’t for me, so I re-evaluated. I had a philosophy that I would work so I could have the lifestyle I wanted, but I was working and not enjoying myself. Now I spend time doing something that I really like doing,” he says.

Restaurants had been part of his youth, and he’d had part-time jobs washing dishes and busing tables, he says. “Later, I had a friend who had a restaurant in Toronto. My first shift there I was hooked and have never looked back.” He returned to Stratford a year later and enrolled in the Stratford Chefs School, graduating in 2002. That ending was also a starting point for an enlightening decade of travel and work abroad.

Every culture has its comfort food, I’ve found. In Hong Kong, the kitchen I worked in called it second dinner, and they’d take me out for the food they wanted to eat after service.

Such experiences make The Commonpretty eclectic,” Otsuki says. “There are dishes from quite a few different places.” He pauses, then adds that the School helped his vision with a foundation in French and Italian cookery as well as in the foods of other nations. “If I recall, at that time [Chef Instructor Neil] Baxter was really into Moroccan cooking so that training is what I’ve built on in my career.” … While he’s clearly enjoying what he’s doing, Otsuki says there’s still a lot of food to explore. “You’d have to live a thousand years to learn all there is to learn about cooking.”


Alumni Feature text is excerpted from:

Farm To Table:
Celebrating Stratford Chefs School Alumni, Recipes & Perth County Producers

By Andrew Coppolino  Photos by Terry Manzo
















Since the School’s beginning in 1983, our intensive, entrepreneurial program has provided grads like Tim a solid foundation to pursue employment opportunities in diverse areas of the Hospitality, Food and Beverage industry, and beyond!

Read More About the Program

Posted in Alumni, BlogTags:
Write a comment

Table Reservation