Few hoteliers have had such an impact on the Canadian hospitality industry as Bill Bennett and Mary Beaton. Bill is an architect with a passion for old Ontario structures and between them they completed the first renovation of The Millcroft Inn in the small mill town of Alton on the Credit River. The renovation was so fine that he won a National Award of Honour for Heritage Preservation. While they were operating the inn as a Relais et Chateaux (one of the Canadian charter members of that prestigious organization) they were on a country drive and found a mansion in the middle of a Waterloo County forest. It was in massive disrepair but still clung to the grandeur of the past.
Built in 1902 by Langdon Wilks, the son of an English man who inherited American wealth, the grand home was intended as a summertime contrast to life in New York, London, and a château in the Loire valley. Thanks to the hard work and courage of the Bennett/Beaton team, Langdon Hall has finally achieved what we can easily call its “glory days”. Dr.Leslie Laking, the former director of the Royal Botanical Gardens came out of retirement to design the magnificent, now mature, gardens.
Langdon Hall is pure country elegance unequalled anywhere in Eastern Canada. It’s been celebrated with the Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers Choice Award for years and most recently was dubbed the #2 hotel in Canada. It regularly appears in the Canada Top 100, this year at #5.
The CAA/AAA 5 Diamond Award points to the on going excellence in their dining room and how under the leadership of Executive Chef Jason Bangerter, the culinary experience at the hotel flourishes. I wonder whether CAA/AAA would ever considers 6 diamonds? Chef Bangerter is just-that-good! His credentials are impeccable…apprenticing under Chef John Higgins at The King Edward Hotel before heading to Europe to work under the renowned Chef Anton Moismann in London, Switzerland and Germany. He then headed home to join Oliver & Bonacini Restaurants for the 10 years at the flagship, Auberge du Pommier where he created the Truffle Soup that has been demanded by his fans in every restaurant since, then Luma and O&B Canteen at the TIFF Lightbox, all in Toronto.
But great credentials do not a star chef make. The legendary culinarians, those whose names are emblazoned in history also cooked with their hearts. And that is one of Chef Bangerter’s strongest suits. With this appointment to Langdon Hall, surrounded by magnificent gardens and having an enthusiastic culinary brigade tag-teamed with a stellar wine list and in proximity to most of the finest ingredients in the Province, Chef Bangerter, with great good humour, is raising the the standard of Canadian dining to a whole new level. “I feel like a kid in a candy store” he quips after harvesting a bowlful of morels within minutes of the kitchen door. He and head gardener, Mario Muniz, have become fast friends, laying out the planting plans and identifying all the edible plants and flowers possible on the inn’s expansive grounds. Pheasant back tree fungus, watercress, garlic mustard…the list is long and delicious. It’s that spirit that propelled him to victory in Iron Chef Canada with his sous chefs beside him. Watching the programme, his infectious good humour was obvious. He was just having fun!
On a whirlwind trip to Paris two years ago, he and his pastry chef designed LH’s own private label chocolate. Named Terroir Noir and Terroir au Lait, they tasted single origin chocolate for two days to find the right blend that reflects the earthy, smoky flavours he sees as being reminiscent of the terroir of Langdon Hall itself. Like Bangerter, these chocolates are truly one of a kind and they’ll be showing up in not only desserts but in main courses.
It seems, to me, that while the inn has been home to many great chefs, Jason Bangerter is the one for which it has waited all these years.LH 2019 Dinner Tasting Food Day Final
Contact Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa at the number below to reserve a Food Day Canada table.
Contactez Langdon Hall directement, au numéro ci-dessous, afin de faire votre Journée des terroirs réservation.
Langdon Hall Country House Hotel and Spa
1 Langdon Drive
Cambridge, ON N3H 4R8
T: 519 740 2100