While chef Scott Torgerson was born in Canada, he brings the world with him to the kitchen.
Born in Winnipeg, Torgerson says his family background heavily influences his approach to cooking. “I was born Canadian,
but my grandfather was Swedish and my upbringing had a very Scandinavian influence,” he says. “My grandmother was a baker and my father owned restaurants and because of that, baking, pastry-making and cooking was a major part of my life growing up.” He attended the Culinary Arts program at Red River College in Winnipeg, where he says the culinary program helped open doors to jobs that had a profound impact on his approach to ingredients. “After [working as] a sous chef at Rembrants Bistro, I apprenticed at St. Charles Golf and Country Club under chef Takashi Murakami and worked up to dining-room chef,” says Torgerson. “This kitchen heavily influenced the cooking style, discipline and competitive experience I have today.”
Working with chef Murakami taught Torgerson to let the ingredients speak for themselves. “People might think [combining them] is not such an easy thing. But both are very refined styles with refined flavour balances.”
This combination of Scandinavian and Japanese styles — along with a strong emphasis on local ingredients — helped Torgerson win the Gold Medal Plates Culinary Competition in 2016 with a dish featuring black trumpet-crusted roast elk and Cactus Lake beef tenderloin with porcini and sunchoke foam, plated with broccoli purée, parsnip, beef-tendon puff, pearl onions and micro cress.
Working as executive chef at the Aroma Resto Bar in Saskatoon is something of a homecoming for Torgerson. In 2012, he was executive sous chef at Aroma before taking a position as executive chef at the Winnipeg Squash and Racquet Club in 2014. He returned as the executive chef with Aroma in 2015.
He says while Aroma is a full-service restaurant for the Radisson Hotel’s guests, the menu is not your typical hotel fare, but rather a blending of culinary techniques and traditions made to showcase local foods and flavours. The buttermilk pancakes ($11) feature Saskatoon berries and the dinner menu includes potato-crusted North Saskatchewan pickerel with brown-butter Hollandaise and served with braised leek, potato, peas and parsnip ($28) and house-smoked-trout risotto tossed with lemon, green peas, dill and Grana Padano ($15).
“Our menu is seasonal and based on our local ingredients. [We’ve] developed great relationships with local suppliers and growers and are out and about at our local farmer’s markets searching for ingredients and inspiration for our dishes.”
“Being a chef is something that gives me constant gratification. The people I’ve surrounded myself with on a daily basis make me thankful for what I do.”