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Celebrating Food Day Canada 2021: One-on-one with Chef Jason Bangerter

This July 31st, join us, along with the entire country in shining a light (literally) on Canadian food for Food Day Canada. At 9:00 p.m. on the 31st, Food Day Canada is asking everyone across the nation to turn on a light in support of our local cuisine, and those who make it happen. This year’s theme is ‘gratitude’, and in a year marked by uncertainty and for many, food insecurity, this is an opportunity to thank those who have worked tirelessly to ensure that our nation is fed. 

To spread awareness of this important day, and to give thanks, MENU is profiling three chefs who are participating in Food Day Canada. This is the third and final installment in the series; you can read previous profiles on Paul Stewart here, and Vijay Nair here. Today, we’re sitting down with Chef Jason Bangerter, Executive Chef at Langdon Hall Country House & Spa

Langdon Hall Country House & Spa

Chef Jason’s journey began in 1994 at George Brown College Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts, followed by a three-year apprenticeship at Le Royal Meridien King Edward Hotel. As a result, he earned a much sought-after position as assistant to John Higgins, the captain of Culinary Team Canada as a result. 

Chef Jason’s culinary career has been marked by a number of impressive achievements and accolades; he has been a part of Paris’ Hotel Le Meridien Montparnasse, Kulm Hotel in the Swiss Italian Alps, Auberge du Pommier, and more. “I have always had a creative mind and instantly fell in love with the discipline and the exciting environment of the professional kitchen,” explains Jason. “All these experiences led me to command the stoves at the iconic Relais & Chateaux property Langdon Hall in 2013.” 

The Langdon Hall property boasts 75 acres of ancient Carolinian forest where forage for wild edible ingredients, as well as a kitchen garden full of vegetables, leaves, herbs, roots, flowers, and seeds that they incorporate into their menus.

One-on-one with Chef Jason Bangerter

What is one of your favourite Canadian ingredients to use and why?

Maple. It’s versatile, so it can be used in many applications. We also have some pretty wicked mushrooms in Canada (chanterelle, morel); I’m a big fan.

Do you have a favourite locally-made beverage or food product?

Oh my… so many to choose from! I love Canadian wines from across the country, they’re so delicious and unique to each province’s terroir. Lately, I’ve really enjoyed shrub drinking vinegars, in recipes or just on its own. When at its peak, it is really hard not to love a Niagara peach!

What is the dish you’ve created that you’re proudest of?

I am really happy with the knowledge and skill level that I have achieved. It has led me to develop beautiful dishes and bring ingredients to a heightened level of flavour and surprise. I would have to say my truffle soup is the most impactful dish I have ever created though. It was developed in 2005 and has followed me from kitchen to kitchen by popular demand – sometimes its impact even surprised me.

What is “Canadian food” to you?

To me, the terroir you inhabit dictates the “cuisine.” To put it simply, when being asked this question, your answer is informed by where you’re standing, because the terroir is very different from region to region and coast to coast. In my own experience, Canadian cuisine is about the Ontario bush and the East Coast. It’s about the forage and the hunt – everything these provinces have to offer. It’s also about working together with local farmers and fishers to create something special while supporting the community. But again, it is entirely different depending on where you are. Ontario and the East Coast are different from British Columbia and Quebec. The Borealis forest and the Carolinian forest have completely different profiles. A Pacific urchin or crab compared to the Atlantic? So different. My point is, there is not one Canadian cuisine – there are many.

What makes you proud of the Canadian terroir?

What makes me proud of Canadian terroir is not the land, but the people and the relationships. I have built meaningful connections through visiting and working with growers, fishers, hunters, and like-minded individuals that want nothing more than to share how awesome our country is and what it has to offer us on the plate.

Why is it important to participate in Food Day Canada?

It is important to participate in Food Day Canada because it allows us to continue to educate the nation about our cuisines and their wonderful ingredients. It gives us the chance to celebrate our food providers and share the importance of supporting each and every one of our community farmers, fishers, home cooks, chefs, bakers, brewers, winemakers and so much more.

This Food Day Canada, what are you grateful for?

This year and every year that follows, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to know Anita Stewart and have her present in my life as a dear friend and mentor. Her passion and ferocious approach towards teaching every soul she touched about everything local was infectious. She inspired so many to look closer at what they planted in their gardens, or what was happening at the markets, farms, breweries, and restaurants from major cities, all the way to the farthest corners of the rural countryside. Anita put so much into celebrating Canadians and Canadian foods and I am happy to have followed her journey and now continue to contribute in any way I can to celebrating and continuing her work.

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