Chef Ross Midgley

Executive Chef at Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery

Can you talk a bit about your background and why you became a chef?

I am sort of a ‘born again chef ’, having turned to the stoves after a couple university degrees, small business exposure and working for a big six bank. Basically I could not foresee myself banking for a lifetime, so I looked into my heart and realized I wanted to do something that centered on entertainment and creativity – the kitchen seemed like the most obvious choice.

What’s your favourite thing about being a chef?

Working with a mixed bag of really interesting people from all walks of life. I love the ‘piracy under the hood’.

If you could give people three cooking tips, what would they be?

Be patient. Keep it simple and sustainable. Record what works and what doesn’t; a pencil and notebook are the most essential tools for a chef.

Do you have a favourite ingredient to work with?

I love all seafood.

When it’s your day off, and you go out to eat, where do you like to go?

If I have enough money not to worry, I would seek out restaurants that are comfortable preparing the classics. Ultimately I am drawn to the authenticity and comfort of French bistro food and also adore Indian cuisine.

What city in the world would you say has the best food?

There is wonderful food in every city. Certainly Paris, London, England, New York come to mind, but every city will have world class restos.

If you weren’t a chef, what would you do for a living?

I would love, still, to be a musician. I think music is the truest vehicle for expression.

Do you have an embarrassing cooking moment?

More than I can count. I will never forget scorching

Dungeness crab shells while preparing a crab bisque for my then chef. His reaction to my ruining 40 litres of bisque – at exactly the wrong time – has helped to keep that moment fresh in my mind for 20 years!

What excites you in the world of food these days?

I am truly excited that many guests are paying attention to the food chain and how/where restaurants source product; that quality is important to them. It is a major step in the right direction toward fixing a broken food chain.

Do you have a cooking pet peeve?

I abhor laziness and cooks who just take ‘the easy route’

What’s your favourite thing about being a chef in Niagara?

We have such a great community of chefs down here that, while we all like a little healthy competition, there is a sense of being in it together. I really believe that many, many chefs in Niagara recognize that if any restaurant gets recognition, then it is good for all of Niagara.

How do you stay relevant in the culinary world?

My brigade will tell you that I am, most decidedly, not current! I did recently just grow a hipster beard, but I looked a little more like “Ancient Mariner” than downtown chef…so even that’s gone now!

How would you describe working in your kitchen?

We have a good time. I have respect for all of my team and learn from them every day. I think that by showing transparency in my own skills (good and bad) and comfortably promoting the most able among us to the task, I gain respect in turn. Watching people grow is a deep connection for me, so I try to foster growth in a machinations of our day to day. I love working with my ‘other family’.

What are your guilty pleasures food wise?

French fries and aioli.

What would you request for your last supper ever?

French fries and aioli. Roast pork. Guinness.

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