By Nicholas Hotte
Rob Sgambaro is a NAIT graduate of the commercial cooking program of 1986. After years of working in the restaurant industry he went on to create Sgambaro’s Signature Seafoods Inc.
The seafood company specializes in fine gourmet salmon products that are shipped to fine retailers, restaurants, and hotels across the province of Alberta.
Why did you start up Sgambaro’s Signature Seafoods?
I just kind of fell into it. I didn’t grow up thinking I wanted to smoke salmon for a living. I used to be a traveling chef and I first learned how to make smoked salmon in a hotel in Montreal.
After that I moved back to Edmonton and ran an Earls. I was used to working so many hours before that I became bored. So, I started a fine dining house catering company in Edmonton, which then led to people enjoying the salmon I produced.
Do you have any tips for other people who want to start their own business?
If you want to start your own business, you better be prepared to work and put in long hours. When you’re starting off and doing something on a small scale, in my case, I’m making 30 sides of salmon a week. I can do all the work; I can do it all myself. I can sell it and think, geez, that’s good money.
Well, your home base, your overheads are not high, you don’t have to hire anybody at that point. Then you think ‘man if I could do 300 a week I could be making lots of money.’ But what you don’t realize is to do 300 a week is that now you gotta hire people, now you need some equipment to speed up efficiency. So, it can be expensive to scale the business.
In what ways did your education at NAIT help you in your business?
Commercial cooking taught me the basics of cooking. I got my ticket from NAIT, a recognized program, and NAIT’s a very well-respected school, so with that ticket it allowed me to travel to Toronto and get a job in the cooking capital.
To try Sgambaro’s Signature Seafoods products order online here.