Andrew Gass has been a fixture of the Calgary culinary scene since 2001. He’s always had a passion for cooking and travelling, which has taken him half way around the world, cooking in Australian and Asian kitchens. Starting back in 2006, Gass had the exceptional opportunity to join the Canadian World Junior Hockey Team abroad. The players enjoyed having him along to cook familiar food during stints in Sweden, Czech Republic and Russia, and his food has been credited with helping bring home several gold medals.
Today, when Gass isn’t busy running the Belgo kitchen, he’s working on collaborative assignments with Jonathan Ferguson of Von der Rusch photography. Alberta Food is the pair’s project, celebrating our land and local producers while documenting the wonderful food stories that are happening in Alberta.
Describe your job in a nutshell.
I am the Executive Chef At Belgo Brasserie, a large-scale fresh food concept restaurant, open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We are capable of doing functions for 20 people or up to 500 people. My job involves developing sous chefs, sourcing the best local ingredients, and creating the most mouth-watering, innovative dishes that keep our guests coming back for more.
Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career path?
I started working with this company because my mentor had discovered some incredible growth opportunities for us both and it seemed like a great fit.
My inspiration for this path was inspired by my travels around the globe working in various countries for extremely talented chefs who were kind enough to impart their wisdom and experiences upon me.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part is blowing a guest’s mind with great food and service. When we’ve accomplished that, everything seems so worthwhile.
The most challenging part is dealing with a very transient workforce. It can be tough, but if you are good to your people they will be loyal and stick by you through thick and thin.
What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
Missing one of my son’s basketball games, or being too tired to pitch in around the house, or so exhausted that I can’t take my wife out on a date.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I envision myself overseeing a multiple concept restaurant group of which I am a part owner, developing chefs and engineering menus for the various locations.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
Time management in a very stressful, busy, and volatile environment is my biggest enemy. Time disappears so quickly in a day around the restaurant and if you don’t plan your day, write things down, and make time for “the big fish,” your priorities quickly get jumbled up. Using a calendar has helped me immensely to get my work and personal life well organized.
What does success look like to you? Does Money= Happiness?
Success for me is when you want so badly to leap out of bed in the morning because you are so passionate about the day ahead. Success also involves developing a reputation of quality and consistency that people can count on. And, ultimately, having a happy, healthy family life.
Money doesn’t equal happiness. That’s for sure!
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Winning two gold medals in the World Junior Hockey Championships, in Sweden and Czech Republic, as the Official Chef for team Canada.
Do you have advice for other young Professionals?
A positive attitude even in tumultuous times is key. Always strive to be a better leader by putting yourselves in situations that are outside your comfort zone. That’s how you get better.
Where is your favourite place to wine & dine in your city and why?
I have many go-to favourites, but if I had to choose, Alloy would be top of my list. I have never had a bad meal there and the service is impeccable.
When you’re not working how do you spend your “Me” time?
When I’m not working, my time is dedicated to my family, sports with my son (Tucker), time with my beautiful wife (TJ), and long runs with my dog (Cherry).
Where is your favourite place to travel & why?
My favourite place to travel is the Iberian Peninsula of Spain & Portugal. The food and wine is unparalleled, the beaches are incredible, as is the history and scenery.
If you had to choose a theme song what would it be?
Buffalo Soldier by Bob Marley.
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing what would you be doing?
I would be travelling the world, visiting and tasting the best food and wine on the globe and writing reviews about my experiences.
#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)