Having worked in various venues in scenic places around the world, our latest Chef of Chef Works is undoubtedly inspired by his surroundings. Since establishing The Stirling at the Malcolm Hotel, Alberta, Chef Graham Smith has made the restaurant the heart and soul of the hotel. We caught up with Chef Graham to find out more…
Tell us about yourself…
Growing up in a small town in Northern Canada, I had the opportunity to experience an unusual variety of foods from an early age. I started my career right out of school with formal training, a great attitude, and good luck to get into the right places to help achieve the goals I have striven for. These unique roots gave me the inspiration to follow my passion and to become the chef I am today.
What inspired you to become a chef?
From a young age I have always been in the kitchen, making Sunday dinner for the family with my mom. As I matured, the more I cooked, the more I was drawn to a sense of purpose and creation by utilizing raw ingredients and being able to create something that is considered sublime.
How did your career take you to The Malcolm Hotel?
My entire career has been in hotels, and thus I have had the great fortune to have travelled and worked in absolutely stunning places, with some of the best chefs, mentors, and leaders from around the world. When I heard about an opportunity to be part of an opening team, and to create a new standard of hospitality service in Canmore, I felt like this challenge was created for me.
Tell us about your kitchen….
Legendary, unique, ambitious, young and full of potential. Having the opportunity to open a kitchen where the culture, and vibe, is from the ingredients that I have provided and instilled. The Malcolm kitchen is the Heart and soul of the hotel. We have some great budding talents and want to foster them into the next generation of chefs that can create their own stories in our industry.
How would you describe your culinary style?
Classic with a modern twist. I believe that classic food is classic for a reason. I like to arrange the flavors and have the food tell its own story.
What is your favourite ingredient to work with?
So many answers to that question. I love to work with a plethora of ingredients, but if I had to choose just one…that would be a must have… I would have to say whole cream. The texture and versatility that cream provides is simply amazing, from the most basic of ingredients to the most elegant dishes.
Looking beyond the pantry is something that I often do. To create the best dishes in my Kitchen, I believe the most important ingredient by far, is a good team of people whom will make your vision a reality.
Where does your inspiration come from for new dishes?
Life is the most powerful inspiration. When something interests me I will tenaciously pursue it, learn it, and perfect it. Flavours, textures and presentations are all part of the experiment in the laboratory of my chosen profession.
Photo credit: IG @malcolmhotelcanmore
What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
The best part about being a chef is that everyday is something different. My career has taken me around the world and always brought me back home. Being a chef has to be one of the most intense, interesting and overwhelming jobs in the world. It is a rush of adrenaline of a busy service. The satisfaction of creating the best plate of your life and knowing that your next one has to be better in order to create legendary experiences for our guests.
Can you tell us the most memorable moment in your career?
I have had so many moments that would be considered memorable. From winning the chef of the year for Vancouver Island, to flying to a foot of a glacier and cooking a picnic for some clients whom wanted something different. I have had the opportunity to cook for The Reining British Monarch to a star studded gala event. Everyday I can wake up and wonder what are the possibilities that can happen today to make it memorable.
Your all-time best culinary tip….
If you make a mistake own it. If you want to try something, do it. If it does not work, do not be discouraged, learn from it. If you have the passion it will take you far, if you have a positive attitude it will take you further, if you have both you will be unstoppable.
Visit Chef Graham on Social Media
Facebook – @malcolmhotelcanmore
Website – www.malcolmhotel.ca