Jeremy Barrett’s love for food and cooking started from a young age. He spent weekends as a child with his family making batches of pierogis, tomato sauce, and chili. Jeremy also spent his summers with his Oma – who he described as a skilled home cook with worldly and eclectic tastes. So, the fact that Jeremy is now the MSA Executive Chef is not surprising.
The MSA recently asked Jeremy a few questions to help Mohawk College students get to know him better – after all, he’s the man behind the tastes!
Here’s what he had to say:
At what age did you decide to become a chef?
“I started in kitchens at age 13 and wasn’t sure what to do after high school, but mother insisted I go to college/university right away or ‘you’ll never go back’. I was cooking at the time and enjoyed it so culinary school it was.”
Has travelling influenced your culinary experience at all?
“Absolutely, I apprenticed across Canada and overseas, as well as taking in as much as I can with personal travel.”
Who are some people you are inspired by?
“My grandmother, Canadian chefs like Michael Smith, Susur Lee, and many of the local Hamilton chefs bringing great cuisine and new ideas to the Hammer.”
Jeremy also revealed that he started working for the MSA on Jan. 21, 2019, and that he very much enjoys the fast-paced atmosphere with multiple operations and different challenges. He also said he likes working with his team to provide quality food and value to Mohawk students and faculty.
How is working at the MSA different from working at a restaurant?
“It’s the same in many ways, but with more focus on value for students who are typically on a budget.”
He also noted the hours are more conducive to family life than the typical restaurant hours.
How do you go about coming up with menu options that incorporate different cuisines and fusion foods?
"I look at the cultural diversity on campus, and either research or pull from my own repertoire of regional cuisines that would appeal to our customer base."
What do you like most about cooking for students?
“I love getting positive feedback about our food, but it is also nice to answer questions and personally hear the feedback whether positive or negative and then share this immediately with the rest of the culinary team."
If the MSA is quite busy, and a lot of food orders are coming in, what keeps you calm and motivated?
"I’ve always said, ‘slow down and you will go faster’. If you start to rush or cut corners it may help in the very short term but will come back to bite you quickly. Also twisted kitchen people, like me, tend to enjoy the rush of a busy service."
What is the overall atmosphere of the MSA Food and Beverage team?
“There are positive vibes from the employees who enjoy coming in to work each day. Aside from positive customer feedback, I think the greatest compliments I have received are from team members who have told me this is the best job they have ever had and how much they look forward to coming in each day!”
To learn more about Jeremy – and his culinary journey and experience with the MSA, follow @MSATastes on Facebook and Instagram.
Note: Some comments have been edited for clarity.
Written by Paige Petrovsky