Boxed lunch, bag lunch, sack lunch: call it what you will, but a packed midday meal doesn’t necessarily mean the proverbial lunch bag let-down.
Toronto-born Jason Bangerter began his cooking career at George Brown College Chef School, where his skill and work ethic garnered him a place as assistant to Culinary Team Canada captain Chef John Higgins.
The profile and Culinary Team experience helped Bangerter with a placement at Hotel Le Meridian Montparnasse in Paris before he joined Mosimann’s in London. His tenure under Anton Mosimann, whose restaurant The Dorchester in London was the first outside of France to be awarded two Michelin stars, gained Bangerter a position on the team that opened Swissotel Berlin and Chateau Mosimann in Olten, Switzerland.
Bangerter also did stagiaires at restaurants run by Marco Pierre White, Jean George Vongerichten, Pierre Koffman and Terence Conran. He returned to Toronto in 2002 and joined
Oliver and Bonacini’s Auberge du Pommier, winning numerous awards and titles before opening O & B’s Canteen and Luma in the TIFF Bell Lightbox, Toronto.
Bangerter arrived at Langdon Hall in the fall of 2013 as executive chef of the Country House Hotel & Spa and winner of five AAA/CAA diamonds and Conde Nast Traveller magazine’s best hotel in Canada.
Recently, The Ontario Hostelry Institute awarded Bangerter this year’s recipient of the Chef Gold Award. He also awarded best “Farm to Table Chef” by Canada’s 100 Best restaurants website as well as leading the restaurant to a place at the 15th best restaurant in the country.
Rapid-fire round with Jason Bangerter
Explore Waterloo Region: Best thing you’ve ever eaten?
Bangerter: Pass! I’ve eaten a lot of great stuff!
Other career you could have pursued?
Bangerter: Single malt scotch and wine – a Tignanello.
Chef you’d most like to meet?
Bangerter: I like meeting all chefs. There’s inspiration and something to be learned from all chefs. Home cooks too. I’m happy to meet anyone who is as passionate about food and cooking as I am.
Do you ride a bike?
Bangerter: Used to ride a mountain bike. I used to work in the Italian Alps, but not once did I ski. I used to do a lot of things before I starting cooking!
Greatest failed recipe?
Bangerter: About five years ago, I started using grape must – skins, stems, seeds pulled from the bottom of the barrel and dried and made into a powder. I tried it in some bread recipes and the first few attempts were not good. We eventually got it right, however.
A favourite teacher you’ve had?
Bangerter: Probably Mosimann. Was a great teacher with the best composure. Always a gentleman. I’ve had a lot of mentors and teachers. Even as I started out, I would say that every cook I had contact with has helped me to where I am now. You learn from everyone around you.
Who would you like to cook for?
Bangerter: Both of my grandmothers. I wish they were both still here.
Go-to late-night snack?
Bangerter: My wife is good cook. When I get home, I rifle through the fridge and usually find something good that’s home-made and delicious. And there’s always a good piece of cheese. But I also try not to eat too much late at night!
Best thing about being a chef?
Bangerter: I love the artistic side of cooking, the creativity, but every day you also strive to impact people and to create an experience. Not just the physical experience of eating but an emotional experience too. There’s no better gift to a chef than to walk into the dining room and have someone say that was a great meal. I think that’s very rewarding.
But as well, having a cook you have been working with in the kitchen come and say, “Thanks Chef, I learned so much today. Thanks for spending the time with me.” Those things can’t be taken for granted. It humbles you.
Favourite city, other than in Waterloo Region?
Bangerter: Every city is so different, but the most surprising for me is Berlin. It blew my mind, and I didn’t expect it to be as great as it was. I didn’t have high expectations but there was a different festival every week, for instance. It was unbelievable. I also love Chicago.
TV chefs who annoy you?
Bangerter: I’m really not into TV.