Chef Michael Baudais was born and raised in Alberta, growing up in Calgary and spending all of his summers on a farm near Radway. On the farm, he was introduced to all sorts of fresh fruits and vegetables, wild fruits, herbs and mushrooms as well as an understanding of how to use them.
He started his career in 2004 working in some of the top fine dining restaurants in Calgary including Teatro, the Belvedere and Rouge. During this time, he was introduced to the classic brigade system, French techniques and just about every type of ingredient; local to imported and cheap to luxurious. Later he branched out to many upstart restaurants in Calgary as both a cook and manager, including several highly awarded ones.
His connection to Jasper also started when he was young, regularly going camping in Jasper since he was a kid. In February of 2020, Chef Michael moved to Jasper and has been there ever since, taking over the Sawridge Inn and Conference Centre’s kitchen in February 2021.
What made you want to become a chef?
“When I was growing up, my grandmother cooked amazing Ukrainian food and I always took an interest in it. At 18, I got a kitchen job as it was a convenient way to make an income but I ended up falling in love with the profession. I decided I wanted to become a chef after working in fine dining and seeing guests’ reactions to creative and unique dining experiences.”
Why do you use Alberta ingredients in your kitchen?
“I use Alberta ingredients because ingredients are at their best when they’re allowed to mature and ripen while still on the plant or in the ground but they don’t transport well so you need to be as close to the source as possible. That means using Alberta ingredients as much as possible.”
What is your favourite Alberta ingredient to use?
“I have many but particularly like wild ingredients such as wild mushrooms, pine shoots, fiddleheads, wild strawberries, trout and game meats such as bison and elk. In general, whichever is at its best and in season.”
What dish should guests be sure to try on your menu?
“The Fireside Chicken (which features Alberta raised chicken and vegetables when in season) and the Butcher’s Board which always features Alberta beef.”
What is a favourite kitchen/cooking memory?
“My favourite kitchen memory is watching and helping my grandmother cook.”
Why do you take part in Alberta on the Plate?
“We’re taking part in Alberta on the Plate to showcase some of the Alberta products.”