This is a great article from The St. Catharines Standard by my Great article by my compadre, Ross Midgely, Niagara Chef!
My name is Ross Midgley and I have been a professional chef in Niagara for almost 20 years. In that time, I have been fortunate to be connected with and to watch this region grow into an international travel destination for food and wine lovers.
The prodigious growth in the number and quality of restaurants and food outlets locally has been remarkable. And the strength of the community ‘under the hood’ who put it all together in Niagara is bulletproof. Truly magic. But what is ‘it’? What goes on in all those Niagara kitchens?
In the same 20 years since moving to Niagara I have watched with ardent curiosity the development of the ‘rock star chef’ persona and the ensuing global media frenzy for all things cooking. The world, it seems, is truly interested in what we do.
But there may be a lack of authenticity in the telling; like when my wife comes home howling that another co-worker said how she must be so lucky to be married to a chef …
TV networks have twisted things so badly with hyperbole that kitchens seem as queasy with prima donnaisms as The Bachelorette and as stuffed with HD drama as, as, well, as Hell’s Kitchen.
There is drama in all professional kitchens in Niagara, but it is a human drama of the everyday. A drama more about cohesion than competition. More consistent than unique. This thing we do is about serving others. It is a craft, part technical and a dash of art. But the job is showing up to do the same thing every day, with the same people for a crowd that runs the gamut from the completely disinterested to the far too interested — “I just posted the bread service on Instagram, honey.”
The hope for this biweekly column is to unearth some of the craziness that it takes to fulfil that mandate. What does it take to show up every day. And what happens when you do. A chance to bring food advice and to expose a little of the plywood under the glitter of our wonderful local food scene. A chance to get cozy with the kooks (yes, not a typo) who make your food. A hope to sound an industry voice from deep inside the back of house.
Ross Midgley moved from P.E.I. to Niagara in 1999. Since then he has held the lead position in several of the region’s top kitchens. He is passionate about his family, all things Niagara and good rock ’n’ roll.