By Marian Staresinic
Jason Bangerter is the executive chef at Langdon Hall Country House Hotel and Spa in Cambridge and is an influential leader in the culinary industry. Some of his most notable achievements include opening two restaurants at the TIFF Bell Lightbox – O&B Canteen and the more upscale dining room and lounge, Luma.
In 2015, Jason was awarded the International Rising Chef Award in Paris, France by Relais & Chateaux and recently, Langdon Hall was recognized for being the only restaurant in Ontario that has achieved the CAA 5 Diamond award for excellence in 2015.
We spoke to Chef Bangerter about working in the industry, how being a chef now differs from when he started and what advice he would give to a new chef.
1. What are some of the challenges you face working in the restaurant industry?
There are challenges in every industry. There always will be. That’s part of what keeps it interesting. I think the biggest challenge is finding and recruiting the right people. It is especially challenging when your restaurant is off the main grid. Being located in a forest a distance from any major city makes that the biggest challenge to date.
2. What chef or chef(s) have been your biggest influence?
So many, in so many ways during different times throughout my development as a cook. Some chefs influenced me directly and some indirectly. I can honestly say that every individual I have worked with throughout all the kitchens I have stepped foot in had some impact on my development as a chef. The people you work beside day in and day out are the real force behind what you become. We push and challenge each other everyday. The chef sets the standards. It’s the sous chefs and the brigade who develop and train the new cooks.
3. What do you think makes being a chef different today than when you first started?
Today I think it is a little more hip to be a chef, maybe even trendy. With the rise of reality TV, social media, print media and cookbooks, the hospitality industry now offers chefs a much wider career path which in turn means there are a lot more restaurants opening.
I also think there is a bigger awareness in using responsibly-sourced products. Sustainable lake, ocean and river fish caught in a method that is eco-safe and harvest controlled. There is a strengthened connection with local artisans and famers.
4. What advice would you give to new chefs in this industry?
Know this is what you want to do. Being a chef isn’t easy. It takes time. You have to study for many years. Actually, for all of your years. As a chef, learning and developing never stops, it’s on going. Understand it is a labour of love. If you are in it for the money, go back to school. The big ticket jobs come late in your career. You have to understand that and come to terms with it. You do it because you love it. And, if you really love it, it will be rewarding and you will enjoy it all your days.
A sous chef once said to me, “we are a special breed of human, us cooks. A small percentage of the human race.” These words have always stuck with me. I believe it true. You have it or you don’t.
5. What upcoming trends do you see in the restaurant industry?
Back to basics. Real cooking. Real food.
To read more about Jason Bangerter’s culinary journey, visit Branding & Buzzing.
About the author:
Marian Staresinic is the Vice President of Branding and Buzzing. She has been in the food business her whole career, beginning at Stratford Chefs School then as a restaurant and cooking school owner, celebrity chef talent manager, AGA Cooker Brand Manager, food editor and the founder of Windsor’s Slow Food chapter.
About Branding & Buzzing:
Branding and Buzzing is a modern food marketing agency that brings the buzz to their clients through engaging consumer conversations, social media and real-life experiences that are inspirational, memorable and most importantly, brand-driven. For more information, visit brandingandbuzzing.com.