6 Q’S WITH CHEF MIKE WARD
As a chef, you have spanned a vast array of mediums including your YouTube page which just hit the 4 million mark, a former Food Editor for Canada’s #1 food/lifestyle magazine, writing and hosting a show on SiriusXM called Devour and I hear there is a cookbook on the way in 2018, do you have one medium you love or do you enjoy all of it and why?
- That's like asking me which one of my kids I love the most. At the end of the day they all revolve around my true passion which is food. Whether it's talking about it, educating or informing folks, or just being enthusiastic about my own personal culinary adventures it all scratches the same itch. The radio show on SiriusXM is certainly a new venture for me which I'm enjoying immensely. It's allowing me to talk to some incredible people in the food space that otherwise I perhaps may not have access to. Also the medium of radio allows for a much more comfortable interview because you remove the element and distraction of physical appearance. And because I often record theinterviews from my home I can be enjoying a glass of wine in my underwear during the chat. But don't tell anyone that.
When did you know being a chef was your passion?
- When I left high school I had no idea what I wanted to do. Actually that's not true, I wanted to be an aeronautical engineer but there was no way I had the academic ability or patience for another 10 years of education. After travelling for a couple years throughout Southeast Asia I returned back to Australia and realized all the memories that were dear to me revolved around food. That was really the spark that fuelled the flame. It's been a long time since I've cooked in restaurants, and that is something I would never go back to. The idea of replicating the same dishes over and over again for nights on end is torture for me. What I do now allows me to constantly be creating new food ideas. And hat very much suits my child like attention span.
You have two daughters, are they interested in what you do and how do share your passion for the kitchen with them?
- My two girls do get a kick out of what I do for a living. They enjoy watching me create a dish and then photograph it and then see it somewhere either online, in print or on TV. It's more about the idea of pointing to something and saying "daddy did that". I get a huge kick out of seeing my kids be proud of what I do. They're both highly creative souls so I often ask their opinion on different camera angles etc. when I'm shooting food. They both have keen artistic eyes.... 90% of the time I go with their recommendations.
For parents reading this, what tips do you have for getting our kiddos more involved in what they eat, how to prepare meals and how to expand their palettes?
- As any parent reading this knows, kids do arrive on this planet with their own set of likes and dislikes. For that reason I don't force things on them too hard. A couple of things I found that work though is to get them involved in the cooking process. If they're somehow involved in making the dish I would say most of the time they'll at least try it. And that's the hardest part. I've also struck upon some success in wrapping a bit of a story around the food, telling them an interesting anecdote about the ingredients or where something came from. Their little eyes light up and all of a sudden they see more than just a strange plate of food in front of them.
If you could give advice to your pre-parent self, what would you tell him and why?
- If I could give any advice to the younger me it would be to approach life fearlessly. I don't regret anything in life but I do recall some missed opportunities in all aspects where if I'd moved past my fears I may have achieved certain things earlier. When I have moments of self questioning nowadays I remind myself of when I was 14. I had a crush on a girl named Melissa... I was invisible to her. I found out many years later at a high school reunion she had a crush on me. It seems tall skinny insecure boys were her thing. I can't turn back the clock but I certainly apply this mantra to my life now. I'm still a human being and I have an ego and I suffer from various insecurities, but ultimately people are too busy thinking about themselves to really pay much attention to me. Keeping that in mind allows me to take risks that I didn't take as a younger me.
Favorite meal you’ve ever had and why?
- I'm often asked what my favourite meal in life has been. For me for food really represents the coming together of people. It brings people around a table. I can't remember one specific meal but as kids, mom and dad would often take my two brothers and I down to the beach and we'd buy a whole whack of fish and chips and lay on a blanket. It wasn't about the food, but the food put us there, and it was a part of the experience. The seagulls would aggressively sweep in and pluck the morsels from the edge of the blanket triggering the three of us to scream in fear. Those memories to this day put a smile on my face and bring a happy tear to my eye. That's the real power of food, and why I do what I do.