“A Day in the Life” with Toronto Creative Dara Sutin

Dara Sutin has loved cooking and baking since she was quite young. She started her first entrepreneurial venture at the age of 12 years old selling her handmade granola bars. Later in life, she volunteered for the hugely successful Toronto Underground Food Market where she met Hassel Aviles, a fellow hospitality industry entrepreneur. Dara’s passion for culinary arts continued and she is now a Cordon Bleu trained Chef, Food Stylist, Recipe Developer, Writer & Culinary Consultant.

Dara completed her Cordon Bleu training while living in London, U.K., and then worked as a Pastry Chef at Ottolenghi’s before shifting into recipe development and food styling. In doing so, she developed an impressive global client list including Jamie Oliver and Gwyneth Paltrow. Upon returning to Toronto, she rekindled with Hassel and most recently have joined forces again to launch their latest project called Cooking from Home, a collaborative charitable cookbook. All proceeds are being donated to Not 9 to 5 Organization, founded by Hassel, a non-profit that empowers and supports the hospitality and culinary with mental health and substance use resources. This book was born from Dara’s own struggles to adjust to life during a pandemic and as a creative way of supporting the industry she loves.

-Written by Hassel Aviles, Co-founder of Not9to5 and Producer of Cooking From Home.

Cooking From Home - Cover
Cooking From Home – Cover
Myself and my dog Oban
Almond brioche from Donnas restaurant Toronto
Braised crispy chicken with orzo
Illustrations by Sophie Berg for Cooking from home
Broccoli pasta from Cooking from Home. Recipe by Jess Maiorano
Homemade scones
Cooking from home crew

Which ‘hood are you in?

I grew up in the city but have lived in many places for school and work, most recently spending 5 years abroad in London UK. Since being home I’ve spent the past two years living in Wallace-Emerson, which is a great little area in the west end. It’s close to High Park, the junction, Mattachioni (my favourite Pizza joint) and lots of little coffee shops. We are moving slightly more north shortly to St. Clair West/ Corso Italia which I’m looking forward to because we will have a bit more space, including a back yard for our new puppy to roam around in.

What do you do?

My day-to-day job is as a Freelance Food Stylist and Recipe Developer. I basically cook food so that it looks beautiful for photography! It’s an interesting little industry that I fell into after studying Culinary and Pastry arts at Le Cordon Bleu in London, UK. I was working as a Pastry Chef at Ottolenghi when I realized that I really enjoyed the creative process of recipe ideation to execution. I wanted to explore that more so I started working with other food stylists and eventually landed a gig as a recipe tester at Jamie Oliver’s head office. That led to more gigs on my own writing, developing and styling recipes for cookbooks, magazines and advertisements. At home, I cook and test recipes a lot- so there is always something delicious being made in the kitchen!

What are you currently working on? 

As a freelancer, my jobs range from day to week-long gigs. Currently I just wrapped up holiday advertisements for some clients and in January we will start on summer- always working months in advance! After wrapping up Cooking From Home I’ve been considering starting another project in the new year. I really enjoy the entrepreneurial adrenaline I get from creating something and I definitely want to explore that further in 2021.

Where can we find your work?

My work can be found online, in print and in-store. Since I work on so many projects simultaneously, it can be hard to track down sometimes. My passion project Cooking from home can be found via Instagram or our website www.cookingfromhomethebook.com and most of my current work from the past year can be found on my personal portfolio www.darasutinfood.com.




About Joel Levy 2552 Articles
Editor-In-Chief at Toronto Guardian. Photographer and Writer for Toronto Guardian and Joel Levy Photography