It’s All About Love
If a chef has a love for food, everything else will fall into place. – Chef Ethan Kerr
“It unfolded during high school” Chef Ethan shares how his culinary journey began. “I took a cooking class in junior year to fill in a class, and I quickly learned how good I was at it.”, he continues. The talented chef adds, “I met up with my guidance counsellor and began pursuing local Culinary Art schools. I ended up settling on Paul Smith’s College in the middle of the Adirondack Mountains in New York State. I received my bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts and Service Management 3½ years later and it’s all been uphill from there.”
We get to know the young chef in this interview with EGO, as he talks about continuous improvement, farm-fresh food and chicken parmesan.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career as a chef?
My parents inspired me to pursue my career as a chef. I had a few dishwasher jobs throughout high school but I have never actually handled food. When I talked to my parents about what I wanted to do with my career, they were both very supportive and extremely excited. My grandmother on my dad’s side was a very successful baker. My grandmother on my mom’s side on the other hand, has been cooking her entire life; so my parents couldn’t have been more proud when I told them I wanted to become a chef.
What is your specialty? And what is the story behind the choice?
You know, I don’t really have a specialty when it comes to specific cuisines. I guess it all depends on what I feel like cooking for a special that day. I run a farm to table restaurant that focuses on as much local produce and proteins as it can, so it is not segregated to just one specific cuisine.
My favourite ingredients to work with are fennel, radish, parsnip, any and all proteins (the crazier the better), and pretty much everything else under the sun. It is my job as a chef to have a love for every food.
Do you have a certain food philosophy?
My food philosophy is to support your local farmer. My father works with farmers every day as his career, and growing up I always had a love for farms. Not enough people in this world know exactly where their food comes from; they think it just shows up at a grocery store.
What makes a good meal?
You know, I work at a health resort, so I can’t say butter or I might be banished; but what truly makes a good meal is love. Lots and lots of love. If a chef has a love for food, everything else will fall into place.
What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
The thing I love most about being a chef is teaching others. I get a sense of enjoyment when I am able to teach someone something they don’t know. I also enjoy hearing customers tell me how spectacular their meal was. It makes me want to continue to accomplish all my dreams as a chef.
What are the important qualities one needs to be a successful chef?
Patience and acceptance. Growing up my parents always told me that patience is a virtue, and they were 100% correct. Meanwhile, Acceptance is also important because as a chef, nothing is perfect. You need to accept the fact that everything can be improved, all the time.
If there was a certain meal or food to represent you, what would it be?
Not that it has anything to do with the type of chef I am, but if you were to ask anyone that knows me, I have an uncontrollable love for chicken parmesan. Something about it is extremely comforting and I get it almost every time I go out to dinner.
What is your favourite restaurant and meal?
I went to this restaurant in New York City called Tony’s de Napoli and it was the greatest experience I have ever had. It was a family style Italian restaurant and from the moment my girlfriend and I walked in, it was an adventure. The servers were unbelievable, the food was fantastic, and we even received complimentary drinks. It was delightful. And of course, my favourite meal is chicken parmesan, which is what I ordered there.
What is something that not a lot know that you’ve always wanted them to?
A fun fact about me is I want to become a restaurateur. I have a burning desire to become insanely successful in my career as a chef. I am on the track to that, but I still have a long way to go. Staying humble is the most important part of my track to success. I will always stay humble, no matter what happens in my career.
Any cooking tips that you can share to our readers?
Experiment. Step out of your comfort zone and do your own thing. If a recipe calls for an ounce of fennel, think of another ingredient that might pair better with the dish you are trying to create. Make everything your own. And a one-word phrase my chef mentor always tells me; Kaizen, a Japanese philosophy which means continuous improvement.