Chef Jason Bangerter: Celebrating a Decade of Culinary excellence at Langdon Hall

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by Andrew Coppolino | March 2024

Langdon Hall Country House Hotel and Spa’s new Grand Tasting Menu begins with “snacks” theatrically presented with local Jerusalem artichokes, quail eggs and garnishes grown in Langdon’s greenhouse and 10,000 sq.-ft. garden. With the local theme set, the kitchen – headed up by executive chef Jason Bangerter – uses the restaurant’s own buttermilk for panna cotta. A course or two later, a fish course that is 100 per cent Cambridge is served: smoked trout with juniper foraged from the 75-acre Carolinian forest that makes up the Langdon property, served on a river rock. 

A trout entree very decoratively displayed on a ceramic plate that has been placed on forest greenery - cedar, pine branched, etc.. It's all displayed on a white background.
The Grand Tasting Menu’s smoked trout with juniper (Photo: Jonathan Bielaski)

“Milk and Honey” is entirely local – “with honey from our bees,” says Bangerter – while “Orchard Crab Apple” with sorbet, cider and oats also sourced just outside the kitchen’s back door. Even “Taste the Ocean” – the king crab, scallops and sea urchin that are an important part of Canadian marine cuisine – explores a part of Bangerter’s journey with food during his 10 years at the Relais & Chateaux hotel and restaurant.  
“The dish is coast-to-coast stories of my childhood. Spending time with family, fishing off Vancouver Island and spending summers in Amherst, Nova Scotia, with my grandparents,” says Bangerter. 
The new menu was introduced in January, its name playing on “Grand” (as in river), the defining body of water that lazily meanders through the region. The Grand River enters Waterloo Region at Woolwich Township and runs through North Dumfries as it continues its 300-kilometre journey to Lake Erie. Bangerter’s navigation of his culinary career hasn’t meandered, however. It has been a straight line to culinary acclaim, arriving in Cambridge after operating the Toronto International Film Festival restaurants for Oliver & Bonacini Hospitality and “cooking for the stars,” he says of his previous position. 

One of the appetizer courses that is part of the Grand Tasting Menu at Langdon Hall in Cambridge
Photo: Jonathan Bielaski

“Ten years,” he muses as he sips an espresso beneath the massive historic map in the newly appointed Wilks’ Bar lounge. Bangerter says emphatically that he hasn’t been measuring time, and then delivers a measured understatement: “It certainly doesn’t feel like a decade. And it certainly hasn’t been boring!” 

Even through the hurly-burly of the pandemic, Bangerter and his team maintained Langdon’s status as one of only a few Canadian restaurants that have secured a series of top ten rankings in Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants. Quality and execution in the kitchen and front of house have put Cambridge and Waterloo Region on the national culinary map. But as Canadian representative for Relais & Chateaux’s World Culinary Council, Bangerter also gives the region global presence.  
In an industry ravaged by pandemic shutdowns, the obstacles, he says, had a galvanizing effect and presented an opportunity. “It might have delayed the evolution of businesses in the restaurant industry in general, but here it pushed us forward in creating space for a new culture for our people.” And, the travel commitment that comes with being a Relais & Chateaux chef was also reduced, allowing Bangerter to create what he calls “some of the best food I’ve cooked” that first year coming out of lockdowns. 

Chef Jason Bangerter looking through one of the gardens located on the grounds at Langdon Hall in Cambridge. It is summer, and everything looks green and lush.
Chef Bangerter in the gardens at Langdon Hall
(Photo: Jonathan Bielaski)

“I’m proud of this core team we have and their contribution to keeping Langdon in the top five restaurants in Canada,” he says “And that’s for a hotel serving breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week and not just doing 65 covers at dinner only.” 
Other achievements include his Food Network “Iron Chef Canada” victory over Lynn Crawford, and recognition for his sustainability initiatives with the Green Leadership award. Under Bangerter’s direction, Langdon Hall has received Top 100 Vegetable restaurants in the world and Farm-to-Table chef of the year awards, among others. But, like any top chef seeking a seeming unattainable “perfection” of dishes and exquisite flavours, Bangerter isn’t resting on his laurels. “I can say that even now, I’m constantly pushing and striving for what’s next and developing new things like The Grand Tasting Menu. It’s ongoing. To be better than the year before.” 
Langdon Hall: A Cookbook, published in early 2022 and shortlisted for the 2023 “Taste Canada Awards,” is yet another hallmark within Bangerter’s 10 years in Cambridge. Co-written with Chris Johns, the 312-page volume captures Bangerter’s and his kitchen’s philosophy for the new tasting menu: to create an unparalleled experience bringing Langdon Hall food and service to what he calls “an entirely new level.”  

An appetizer dish from Langdon Hall's Grand Tasting Menu. There are two small bowls on a white table: one has the colourful, liquid appetizer in it, the other cradles a long wooden teaspoon
Photo: Jonathan Bielaski

Available three days a week with only 16 guests per seating, the Grand Tasting Menu draws on a specially trained team serving diners in a unique space. “It’s literally as if another restaurant was dropped into the Terrace section of our dining room,” he says. It uses special china, tableware and linens amid an elevated level of service that includes Bangerter presenting dishes in the dining room. “This is something very, very different, and we like being able to offer that.” But the foie gras, truffles, king crab, scallops and sea urchin – “all the good stuff!” – are not merely slotted onto a “list” of tasting menu courses but have been given considerable thought. “Each dish has a local or national story,” he says. 

Bangerter won’t call the new tasting menu or the cookbook the culmination of his decade at Langdon Hall, but if they have revealed anything to him it is perhaps the numerous possibilities to explore at the property and its pristine natural terrain. He describes a “juxtaposition, a contrast” between the classic 1902 Revival-style country house along with the terroir in which Langdon is embedded, and the fine local ingredients brought from outdoors and re-imagined in his kitchen – and then at table – as modern, fresh and new on the plate.   
“I’m drawn to cook for people and make an emotional connection with them through food, through something like the new tasting menu,” says Bangerter. Ultimately, he then adds, it’s neither about the decade nor the “hardware” of awards or getting a call to journey to the Netherlands to do a cooking demonstration for the Michelin Guide launch.  
“When you’re passionate and you put your head down, focus and drive what you do, achievements can happen. I just love what I get to do.”

Headshot of Chef Jason Bangerter of Langdon Hall
Photo: Jonathan Bielaski


Andrew Coppolino is food columnist with CBC-KW and Metroland newspapers. The author of Farm to Table (Swan Parade Press) and co-author of Cooking with Shakespeare (Greenwood Press), he is the 2022 “Joseph Hoare Gastronomic Writer-in-Residence” at the Stratford Chefs School. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @andrewcoppolino. 


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