Chef Challenge Profile: Brennan Cumming

Watch the Chef Challenge in our Summit Lodge, Sunday, February 5 from 1-3PM

Brennan joined our team in August 2016 as a Shipper/Receiver; essentially Brennan makes sure we never run out of food at the summit - pretty big job. Brennan and Jessy will face-off at our first-ever Sunday Social Chef Challenge this Sunday. Get to know both of the competitors (see Jessy's interview) and wage your bets on who will win. Here's a little bit about Brennan's experience and personality:

How did you end up in Squamish? 

I was born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie Ontario.  I developed an adventurous and creative mindset growing up surrounded by nature, forests and the great lakes. Once I fell in love with mountain bike racing and snowboarding,  the West Coast was a place I could see myself fitting in. I had been living in Calgary for 6 years prior to moving here and decided it was time for a change.  My brother who lived in Squamish before and inspired me to move here rather than Whistler -- which was my original plan.  Squamish is much more fitting for me and I'm loving everything it has to offer.

 Where were you working before Sea to Sky Gondola?

I'm still a newbie to Squamish and the Gondola; I started in August 2016. The Gondola is definitely a bigger food service operation than what I'm used to. It has been challenging and rewarding every day.  Before Squamish, I had developed some incredible restaurant skills. Not just cooking, but personal, technical and managerial. Working with Chef Cam Dobranski through 5 of my 6 years was the best years of my life.  After being a Sous Chef for 2 of his 3 restaurants,  he finally gave me his Winebar to run and manage. I operated WineBar Kensington in Calgary for 1.5 years before moving to Squamish. 

What are your favourite activities/events at the gondola?

I love the ascent trails. The food at Apres this year (December holidays) was so good.  I think next year will be even better. Jessy's got skills!

What passions do you explore in your spare time?

Being an active and outdoors guy, I get out snowboarding, mountain biking or go for runs. I really like to play and experiment in my kitchen. I find it relaxing. No right or wrong. It's like being a kid again.

Most worthwhile investment you’ve ever made?

This has got to be Chef School, Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa.  It has opened so many doors for me and will continue to. It taught me an essential life skill and a great way to make a living. Also, ladies like guys who can cook - let's be real! Cooking has taught me respect, hard work, persistence, passion, patience and discipline.  We have a love and passion for food and the ways we ge to express ourselves with it.

Do you have a saying that you /think of often?

"Respect with an open mind and appreciate everyone and everything for who and what they are." 
"Happy Chef, Good Food, Happy Life"

What is your favourite type of food?

Comfort food with simple flavours that have been executed well.  As a chef, our palate is quite refined from years of constantly tasting at all stages of the cooking process.  To be completely honest though, it's hard for any chef to answer this question because we appreciate all varieties of food no matter what culture it's from. 

Where did you learn the most about cooking? 

Definitely cooking at Brasserie Kensington for 3 years and WineBar Kensignton for 1.5 years.  Both restaurants were owned by Chef Cam Dobranski who taught me everything from life lessons and personal growth to how to cook and effectively run a restaurant. He allowed us to be as creative as we want. We were always getting creative with new dishes for the feature dishes. This got us out of our comfort zone and allowed us to grow as a team through collaboration. We were also a show.  With an open concept kitchen, guest engagement was strongly encouraged which always made the night more entertaining for all of us.  It really was dinner and a show!

What are your favourite instructional resources on this subject? 

I would say my favourite book is Culinary Artistry. It is a flavour pairing book that outlines flavour profiles and pairings by seasons, nationality, and ingredients. It breaks down the basics of constructing a menu in a way so each course plays a game with your mind, and palate. If done correctly, each course should surprise you and get you excited for the next. If I had to teach others to cook, I would tell them to cook what they feel. Be patient and make it with love. The more love you put into your food, the more you, or anyone you're cooking for will enjoy it.  It's really that simple. 

What are your key principles for better tasting dishes?

Patience and proper seasoning.  Cooking doesn’t have to be so complex.  Take the time to make it well and season accordingly.  It will make a big difference on the flavour. Food should always be enjoyed with every bite and it shouldn't be a chore to cook. 

Your worst mistake in the kitchen?

Oh man, this is embarrassing.  It was 2 days before Big Taste Week in Calgary, and both restaurants (WineBar vs. Brasserie) ran different features for the week. I accidently processed the other restaurant's meat for our feature.  Leaving them with our meat. It was really embarrassing and with the time-crunch, both restaurants had no choice but to improvise.  Here's a thing about restaurants most people don't know:  It's like a magic show.  Chaos can and will happen.  Despite the challenges we face from day to day, we pull together to make sure you enjoy your experience at our establishment.

What are the strengths of your competitor, Jessy?

You know I have been watching Jessy since I started here in August, and I am very impressed with his food.  I know he has potential and really needs to unleash his passion. Working with him and understanding a bit of his background, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous.  He is a talented chef and I look forward seeing what he will create. 

What are the weaknesses of your competitor?  

It's hard to say, he is a talented chef.  However, his head could get flooded with ideas. This could be distracting for him. I mean we would love to put all our amazing ideas on a plate but less is more ;)

See Chef Challenge

 

Our Blog

News & Updates

Events

See Our Schedule