An Interview With: Executive Chef Ross Midgley

 

Inside the restaurant at Ravine Vineyard Estates, you’ll be immersed in a sophisticated, upscale-casual ambiance with a rustic charm. The dining room offers expansive views out to the vineyards for guests to enjoy fine wine accompanied by a fresh and flavourful meal, prepared under the advisory of Executive Chef Ross Midgley.

Born in Montreal, and raised in Prince Edward Island, Ross moved to the Niagara Region 20 years ago, and has worked as Ravine’s Executive Chef since 2014.

Starting out his post-secondary schooling in History and English, Ross realized his true passion for culinary art 23 years ago, and obtained his education at the Culinary Institute of Canada in Charlottetown.

Ross’ culinary expertise has been honed primarily in the Niagara Region which he calls one of two of “Canada’s fruit baskets”, the other being Okanagan in British Columbia. He first held the position of Executive Chef at Zees for it’s opening in 2004, has worked for Trius Winery, and owned ‘The Kitchen House’ restaurant at Peninsula Ridge winery with his wife.

Now he is the master behind an eclectic, ever-changing menu of local, farm-to-table dishes served at the Ravine Vineyard Estate Restaurant.

How is working at Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery Restaurant different from other kitchens you have worked at in Niagara?

At Ravine there is a full 1-acre organic garden on site, so my team and I are able to see the ingredients as they grow. We also have a smokehouse and of course, the Canning House Grocery Store on the property.

Why is it important for a restaurant to support the philosophy of a farm-to-table-approach or to “eat local”?

The best food and ingredients come from places, which are close in proximity to the restaurant. I support the farm-to-table philosophy as I recognize the hard work that goes into farming. It takes years of experience to grow foods well, just like it takes experience to learn to cook. I’ve become a better chef by learning about growing.

What is special about working in kitchens in the Niagara Region?

Although there is a healthy competition, we all work together and recognize that if one property does well, it contributes to the overall reputation for Niagara being a place with excellent dining. Collectively, we have raised the bar by supporting each other.

What is the most rewarding part of being a chef?

The most rewarding part of being a Chef for me is being able to grow people. When you work in a kitchen you are exposed to a lot of personalities working together, and as an Executive Chef, I take pride in growing my team. I’ve known young guys who start in my kitchen as a dishwasher and are now the heads of other kitchens.

What is one of your favourite dishes you serve at Ravine?

The ‘Braised Beef Short Rib with Parmesan and Anchovies Sauce’ is a personal favourite!