Interview with Chef Hans Vogels

Sarah Velasco: Did You cook growing up?
Chef Hans Vogels: With dad’s side of the family being Dutch farmers, the importance of food was instilled in me at a young age. There was always interesting food around. I can remember when Oma would take us down to the barn to get eggs right from under the hens and milk straight from the cow and head back to the house to make crème caramel. When I think back to those days im sure that’s what drove my interest in food.

Sarah Velasco: What made you decide to become a chef?
Chef Hans Vogels: The energy of a busy kitchen is addictive, once I got my first taste I knew I had to be there working in some capacity. My first job was washing dishes in a hotel in Moncton NB while I was still in high school. After that I went to cooking school in Prince Edward Island, then apprenticed at The Church Restaurant in Stratford On., then worked my way across the country working in Wolfville NS, Whistler BC, then to Toronto to work with chefs like Susur Lee and Marc Thuet. I was lucky to have worked for some very great chefs/owners who gave me the skills I have which has enabled me to be a chef, not just a cook.

Sarah Velasco: Where were you trained?
Chef Hans Vogels: I took a 1 year basic cooking course at Holland College then a 2 year culinary arts program at the culinary institute of Canada in PEI where I received a Culinary Arts Degree
Living on the island was great in the summer with lots of work for cooks, but in the winter it was cold and quiet. I had a place in Summerside my first year where I could see the Northumberland straight from my kitchen window and the Atlantic ocean from the bedroom window. When a winter storm blew across that stretch of land it was miserable but the summer season and the people who live there make up for it 10 fold. If you haven’t been to the island I highly recommend it.

Sarah Velasco: Who and what is your inspiration?
Chef Hans Vogels: Passion is good inspiration. Very hard to maintain but I certainly respect a chef like Marc Thuet. We used to take trips to the farm to see the animals or talk to farmers about planting melons for us or raising dusks. On the farm at 8am and still in the kitchen at midnight, that’s a lot of time energy spent to get the products you feel best serve your restaurant. That is passion and that inspires me.

Sarah Velasco: What are a couple of tips for beginners?
Chef Hans Vogels: Put your head down and concentrate at work. Keep your knives sharp. Remain humble. Travel.

Sarah Velasco: If you could meet someone from the past or present and cook with them, who would it be and why?
Chef Hans Vogels: My grandfather. He passed away in 1996. I would love to cook with him now.

Sarah Velasco: When you are designing a complete meal, what factors do you take into account?
Chef Hans Vogels: Balance of tastes. Getting cooks to understand how their palates recognize tastes is tough. But once you get it, cooking is a lot more controlled.

Sarah Velasco: Is there a motto you go by?
Chef Hans Vogels: ‘The only thing more important than the success of the individual on a team is the success of the team itself.’ Jose Mourino
Fabulous quote.

Sarah Velasco: Any advice for someone wanting to get into this business?
Chef Hans Vogels: Work a few shifts in a busy restaurant kitchen before you invest time and money in a cooking school. Be sure to research that school before you hand over money. If you’re truly interested in going to cooking school make sure you’re going to the one that best suits your needs and your aware of the investment of time that this industry requires of you. Working long hours, working holidays, there is a lot of stress working in a kitchen. A lot of young cooks that come through my doors here are surprised at how hot it actually gets in the kitchen. Spending a few shifts in a kitchen will give you a good look at kitchen life.
Its not all bad though, the camaraderie, the creativity, the fact that the whole team depends on you to execute your duties is what I love

Sarah Velasco: Recommend 3 great wines that you like to drink when dining at Turf?
Chef Hans Vogels: My favourite is Hinterland, from Prince Edward Co. we have a sparkling Rose from them right now that is fantastic with food.
Cave Spring CSV Chardonnay 2007 or Clos Jordanne, Claystone Terrace, Pinot Noir 2008