- Penguin Group Canada
- Initial publish date
- Apr 2022
- Canadian, Seasonal, Individual Chefs & Restaurants
- Publish Date
- Apr 2022
- List Price
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From Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa—the luxury Relais & Châteaux property in Canada—comes award-winning Chef Jason Bangerter's stunning collection of recipes in a deluxe cookbook.
Nestled within the Carolinian Forest in southwestern Ontario, Langdon Hall is one of the Canada's most gorgeous country house hotels. Renowned for exquisite cuisine that changes with the seasons to reflect the reaps of the harvest—wild produce growing in abundance on the property and the bounty of the kitchen gardens—Chef Jason Bangerter offers guests an unforgettable dining experience. In the spring this might mean Sweet Pea Tart with Fresh Peas from the Garden and Buckwheat, and the summer might inspire Sea Scallops with White Beet Purée and Beetroot Cream. Upon the arrival of first frost, seasonally inspired dishes include Autumn Squash Soup with Sweetbreads, Chestnuts and Orchard Apple, or Sweet Corn and Mustard Caramel with Brown Butter Pound Cake and Popped Sorghum. Snow-covered months of winter offer comforting dishes like Beef Short Rib and Rutabaga with Black Truffle and Madeira Jus, or a decadent Milk Chocolate Tart with Cocoa Crust and Passion Fruit.
Langdon Hall: A Cookbook, is a stunning collection of seasonally inspired recipes with notes on techniques, wine pairings, and stories about ingredients, cooking, farmers, and purveyors. Featuring gorgeous food and location photography throughout, readers will be transported to the century-old luxury estate. Some of the dishes are ambitious and others are simpler and come together easily—all within the reach of the home cook.
About the authors
Jason Bangerter's profile page
DEREK DAMMANN was born in Campbell River, B.C., the salmon capital of the world. After studying cooking in Nanaimo, chef Dammann worked in one of Canada’s great Italian restaurants, Zambri’s, in Victoria, before making his way to the UK to work with Jamie Oliver in developing the concept behind the restaurant 15, and later becoming the corporate chef of Sweet Candy, Jamie’s private production company. He came back to Canada and settled in Montreal where he opened DNA, one of the most exciting nose-to-tail dining establishments in North America. He partnered with Jamie Oliver again to open Maison Publique, a hugely popular and highly regarded gastro-pub.
CHRIS JOHNS is one of Canada’s most respected food writers. He spent his early years in the Northwest Territories before moving south and eventually finding his way to Toronto. He has written extensively for en Route, The Globe and Mail, Wallpaper, Toronto Life and various international publications. His work has been translated into three languages and has appeared in the Best Food Writing compilation.
Excerpt: Langdon Hall: A Cookbook (by (author) Jason Bangerter & Chris Johns)
Cross the little brick bridge that leads to Langdon Hall. Follow the black ribbon of road as it winds up through the small patch of Carolinian forest that separates the hotel from the outside world. In spring, new shoots of goldenrod, buckthorn and thistle bring the first touches of green to the understorey. Turn another corner, in summer, and lofty maples, towering poplars and broad-leafed American chestnuts explode in shades of green from the vast expanse of manicured lawn. Approach the grand portico of the house in autumn, when the air is filled with the resinous perfume of pine trees and chimney smoke, and the white columns and red bricks of the mansion glow with reflected light from the almost comical bedlam of fall foliage.
William Bennett and Mary Beaton first made this same winding journey through the forest in the late 1980s. The driveway was broken gravel back then, the gardens overgrown and ill defined, and the house neglected and unloved. “It was a twenty-five-thousand-square-foot home,” Bill recalls, “with maybe two and a half million bricks, and most of them were cracked.”
Nonetheless, something in their hearts told them that the grand old building, with its Ionic columns and perfectly balanced facade, could one day join the ranks of the world’s great hotels. Truly a family endeavour, son Braden Bennett runs the day-to-day operations as managing partner and his wife, Jennifer Houghton, gallery director, oversees the featured artist series at the inn. In the four decades since Bill and Mary acquired the country mansion, courtesy of their hard work, unfailing eye for detail and ability to inspire in others the level of hospitality they themselves embody, one of the world’s great hotels is precisely what Langdon Hall has become.
And that’s why generations of visitors, from all around the world, have made the trek over the little brick bridge, up the long, and now beautifully finished, driveway to find themselves similarly enchanted.
One of those people was Jason Bangerter, a Toronto chef who started on his culinary journey with John Higgins at the King Edward Hotel and went on to study in some of Europe’s finest kitchens, staging and working under the tutelage of legends like Pierre Koffmann, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Anton Mosimann. He didn’t come deliberately looking for a job so much as to see the property and get a feel for the place, but Langdon Hall had other plans.
“The first day I drove up the driveway I almost fell out of my seat,” he recalls. “I was amazed by what I was seeing. I had no idea something like this existed in Ontario. I could not believe the beauty and the majesty of the property, and when I got out of my car and heard the roosters crowing and smelled the aroma of the wood-burning fireplaces, the freshness of the surrounding forest air and the smell of pastries and bread baking from the chimney, this huge rush, a huge wave of emotion came over me. It was just so magical, but it was also very intoxicating. I was actually pretty nervous as I walked up to the front door and realized this place was way more than I had ever imagined.”
That was back in 2013. Bill met the awestruck chef in the reception and the two went for a stroll. “We walked along the flower gardens,” Jason recalls, “over to the apple orchard and down to the garden, and the feeling of the place was just really warm and welcoming.”
On the drive back into the city, stuck in traffic, his phone rang. The job was his if he wanted it. Bill and Mary stipulated two rules: “Cook from our land, and make sure the guests are happy.” He accepted.
Up until that day, Jason had been on the path to becoming a corporate chef, working in downtown Toronto, managing staff, running numbers, designing kitchens, training chefs. Langdon Hall offered him the opportunity to apply those skills, but also to rediscover the things that had drawn him to cooking in the first place: a connection to the land and farmers and to raw, wild ingredients. In some ways, it would be a reinvention.
“Sustainable seafood and farm-to-table, that wasn’t the way I was trained,” he says. “Europeans taught me to cook, and that meant using monkfish and orange roughy and all that stuff, so when I came back to Canada I wanted to cook like I’d cooked in England and France and Germany. I was ordering langoustines from Scotland and oysters from Brittany, sole from the English Channel. But it didn’t feel right. The products when they arrived in Toronto were poor quality, not what I had used while cooking in Europe. That’s when I realized I needed to tap into what was here, what was close to home. That was 2003. I worked hard at developing relationships with nearby farmers, foragers and fishers, with the focus on connecting with like-minded, passionate suppliers to work with. Ten years later, Langdon Hall provided me the opportunity to be even closer to the source, to develop an even deeper relationship with the land and ingredients.”
The chef started to learn about what was available around him and when—what was in our own waters, what different areas nearby produced best, and what wild ingredients were available in each season.
“The first little while I was focused just on trying to understand all the moving parts. That was a huge education for me. Learning to understand where wild stuff grew. Knowing that was a big component of what was available to me on the property. It took me about a year, maybe a year and a half, to really get control of it. I still miss things, but the beauty of this place is that it’s an ongoing process and Mother Nature changes things up almost every year, so it’s never quite the same.”
He had one distinct and crucial advantage when it came to understanding the cycle and maximizing the property: the garden. The garden’s role is so central to the property’s cuisine and philosophy that it should be considered an extension of the kitchen, and the gardeners an al fresco element of the kitchen brigade.
The Wilks family felt the powerful draw of this piece of nature a century ago and set about building Langdon Hall as a summer home. At the time, the kitchen garden would have primarily been used to feed the staff. Room and board was expected, so it only made sense to grow as much for yourself as possible. The family would come and enjoy the produce during the summer, of course, but most of what was grown would be preserved for later in the season to sustain the staff who lived and worked on the property year-round.
That tradition is honoured, maintained and expanded today by the gardening team, a group of individuals as important to Langdon Hall’s success as the kitchen brigade. The Olmstead-designed vegetable garden is a production garden first and foremost, although the kitchen draws ingredients from throughout the grounds, but it also serves an important role as a teaching garden. At just a little over a hundred square metres, the vegetable garden is generously proportioned, but not exactly sprawling for a kitchen as busy as Langdon Hall’s and the gardeners strive to grow as much as possible in the space. Beyond that, they emphasize full flavour over abundance and include a selection of traditional, heirloom varieties that might well have grown in the plot since the house’s earliest days.
For Jason, his immersion in the gardens has changed his understanding of ingredients, the way he creates dishes, indeed his entire culinary philosophy. “The training that I’ve received by working with the gardening team and being immersed in the garden every day is incredible,” he says. “Intimately knowing the life cycle of a plant or a herb, how much of it can be used and when. No one ever taught me this stuff and I probably never would have learned these things if I wasn’t in a position where I have them at my fingertips. Not many chefs have the luxury of a large garden. The whole experience of cooking in a property like this and working with knowledgeable gardeners completely changes your role as a chef.”
For guests as well, spending part of an afternoon wandering through the gardens also changes their perception. To see that potato freshly dug out of the rich soil, dirt still clinging to its skin, transformed in the dining room by the skill of the chefs into something elegant and elevated, brings another layer of understanding to the meal.
Jason says, “As our cuisine has developed and grown over the years, I think we’ve established a philosophy that’s about a connection to the ground and to the terroir that creates an experience that is as exciting for the guests as it is for the whole culinary team.”
There’s something reassuring when everyone on staff shows the same pride in knowing where those morel mushrooms were found or that the marigolds have just begun to flower or that the lemongrass in dessert was just picked from the greenhouse.
“We have the opportunity to put something on the plate that no one has ever seen before,” Jason says, “where you’re eating something that’s truly connected to here and unique. It’s a true taste of place. That’s what drives us, and that’s why even now, eight years after I first arrived, every time I drive up the driveway I get that same feeling of excitement I had the very first time I came here.”
A NOTE FROM
BILL BENNETT AND MARY BEATON
Founders/Owners of Langdon Hall Country House Hotel and Spa
We could never have imagined Langdon Hall would take us on such a journey of historical discovery and culinary creation. Our ambition was to renovate the spaces and create places in the gardens to offer a respite from city life in the countryside. After thirty-five years, we are left with a sense of pride and gratitude for all those who have joined us on this journey.
When developing Langdon Hall, we tried to understand its sense of place and to respect the past pride of an American summer house created by Eugene and Pauline Wilks—including the gardens, lawns and woodlands. We were fortunate to retain Dr. Leslie Laking, who had retired from the Royal Botanical Gardens, to consult and hire our first head gardener, Mathew Smerek, to renovate the gardens and revive the past purpose of providing a vegetable and herb supply to the hotel’s kitchen.
Several years after opening the hotel, original letters and plans of the gardens from 1902 were discovered. We were pleased to learn that Langdon Hall was the work of John Charles Olmsted, son of Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of nineteenth-century American landscape architecture. This significant historical discovery was a pivotal piece in our story.
For us, it was a natural progression to pair the gardens with the kitchen, and over time we witnessed culinary acclaim grow for the dining room at Langdon Hall. The woodlands were explored and foraged by our chefs Nigel Didcock, Louise Duhamel, James Saunders, Neil McCue, Andrew Taylor, Frank Dodd and Jonathan Gushue. Their innate passion and respect for the gardens and woodlands, coupled with the committed kitchen brigades and dining room personnel—many of whom have gone on to receive critical acclaim—are notable qualities.
Writers and photographers told stories of how chefs at Langdon Hall created cuisine using harvested ingredients before farm-to-table was a trend. As seeds continued to be sown and talented chefs continued to reap the harvest, the gardens evolved over the decades, evoking the spirit of the past but very much growing for the present.
Today, the garden and landscape still exude the original essence of the Olmsted plans in the skilful hands of the gardening team. The great green lawns glisten, favourite herbs and vegetable varieties grow, and the purposeful woodland paths are groomed, guiding the way for the cuisine of Chef Bangerter.
Born locally, world travelled, Chef Jason Bangerter beautifully pairs his culinary creations and skill with the Langdon Hall terroir. Since he joined us on our journey, we have enjoyed watching him discover the garden gifts offered at Langdon Hall and witnessing his recipes change through the seasons. As he enthusiastically explores the woodland, floral and vegetal offerings, a new breath has entered the kitchen, and his passion for the local lands and suppliers around us is evident. Our journey continues with culinary acclaim as Chef Bangerter and his brigade lead us into the next chapters.
“Chef Jason Bangerter’s style of cuisine is perfectly suited for an English-style country home. Never a one-trick pony, Jason’s expertise in being able to create a variety of menus—from a fresh country breakfast to a vegetable-driven Sunday lunch to a purposeful ten course tasting—is captured in this incredible cookbook.”
—Michael Bonacini, chef and restaurateur
“Langdon Hall: A Cookbook is absolutely stunning—a perfect blend of classic Langdon Hall finesse and beauty and Ontario terroir. Jason Bangerter and his team have created recipes that truly signify what beautiful Canadian food is all about. Flipping through this book, I immediately want to be transported to the serene, calming atmosphere of Langdon Hall. I want to eat literally every dish in this cookbook.”
—Afrim Pristine, internationally-renowned maître fromager of the Cheese Boutique, TV host and bestselling author of For the Love of Cheese
“Jason Bangerter is leading a delicious conversation about sustainability and stewardship through beautiful and delicious food. Inspired by what nature provides through the dramatic seasons, this engaging book brings you into Jason’s world and deserves a place on anyone’s shelf interested in the story of a chef and his universe.”
—David Kinch, three-Michelin star chef and owner of Manresa, Los Gatos, California
“I have travelled far and wide for quite a few years and have had innumerable fine dining experiences all around the world, yet Chef Jason Bangerter and his team at Langdon Hall surprised and delighted me beyond measure, providing one the most unforgettable and extraordinary culinary experiences of my life. Jason Bangerter is not only a culinary genius; he is truly a great Relais & Châteaux chef.”
—Philippe Gombert, President, Relais & Châteaux
“Jason is a talented and creative chef who masters each short season with an abundance of opportunity. His love of foraging, gardening and exploring nature brings a true Nordic sensibility to his cuisine. Langdon Hall: A Cookbook is Jason’s paragon of excellence in taste and presentation.” —Daniel Boulud, chef and owner, The Dinex Group
“I have followed Chef Bangerter’s journey with interest and pride and I am delighted that almost twenty years later, Jason is continuing to develop the next generation of great chefs, and have a lasting and profound effect on the culinary world. For readers, this book brings to life a delicious journey through stories and philosophies of Jason’s cooking and offers a whimsical glimpse of the luxurious Langdon Hall estate.”
—Anton Mosimann, chef and restaurateur
“[E]very once in a while a cookbook comes around so astonishing, and so full of otherworldly beauty and grace it’s like receiving a celestial gift. . . . [Langdon Hall is] a cookbook so unique and brimming with such wonderful storytelling, along with elegant, sophisticated recipes, and stunning photographs.”
“Flipping through Bangerter’s just-published Langdon Hall . . . it’s obvious that the rich terroir of Langdon Hall, and its rural environs, is the spark behind the hotel’s dishes which, when photographed, look like edible works of art.”
―The Globe and Mail
“[Langdon Hall: A Cookbook] is a visual time capsule of the hotel, told through its food. Made for the home cook, the recipes highlight the use of local ingredients in hopes of connecting people to the land.”