Chef Beja Cassiano
Growing up in a small, Ontario town on sixty acres, I was lucky enough to always be surrounded by amazing farm-grown produce and locally raised meats. My Dad, a culinary instructor and my inspiration, was always cooking the most amazing meals using ingredients from our back yard or the neighbouring farms. Being first generation Canadian, his food always had a strong Portuguese influence. It is the memory of these childhood meals that I try to incorporate into the menu and features at Hogshead.
After high school I moved to Banff where I fell in love with the mountains and the people there but knew that I needed to further my culinary training. With this in mind, I enrolled in the Stratford Chef School. While attending, I volunteered in a high school culinary program as a female mentor to the students. We had the incredible opportunity to cook a Northern Canadian dinner at the James Beard House, in New York City. It was there that I met a chef who had staged in Tuscany, Italy. As soon as I finished school and my apprenticeship I went to Pescina Italy, a tiny town in the hills of Tuscany. Driving there with the chef, who spoke very little English, and me, no Italian, was terrifying. I thought I had gotten in over my head. I couldn’t help but be nervous that my French training would do me no good there, but after a week in the beautiful countryside, surrounded by the most remarkable ingredients, I couldn’t get enough.
During my stay in Italy I learned to butcher all kinds of birds and animals. Some that we eat here in Canada, but many that were completely new to me. I use the training I gained there daily and I feel that my Portuguese roots, French styled schooling, and Italian training have led to the truly unique cuisine we offer at the Hogshead.