Chef Noble of the Nash
Some things you should know about Michael Noble: he was the first Canadian chef to appear on Iron Chef Japan. He’s also competed at the Bocuse d’Or in Lyon, France. Twice. On top of which, he’s well travelled, having competing on the Canadian team in the 1996 Culinary Olympics in Berlin, as well as working in various locations including Berne, Switzerland and Monaco. And that’s just scratching the surface. After 35 years in the industry, Noble has a long and impressive resume. Born in Calgary, his family moved to Tsawwassen when he was nine years old. After taking a Foods and Nutrition course in high school, Michael was inspired to pursue a culinary career, attending Pacific Vocational School (which would eventually become Vancouver Community College). His apprenticeship at Hotel Vancouver was followed by work abroad, a position at Expo ’86’s Canadian Club, and a brief stint at Ladner’s La Belle Auberge. There, he met his mentor in the business, Chef Bruno Marti.
His first role as Executive Chef was at the Metropolitan Hotel Vancouver, where he was part of the design and opening team of Diva at the Met. Following his time here, Noble moved back to Calgary, opening The Catch seafood restaurant and working as Director of Culinary for Earl’s Restaurants for two years, before opening his own restaurant, NOtaBLE, in 2010. After enjoying over four years of success at NOtaBLE, Chef Noble felt ready to open a second restaurant, The Nash, in November of 2014. We had the opportunity to visit The Nash and its bar—dubbed Off Cut—on a recent visit to Calgary. We asked Chef Noble to whip us up an off-the-menu meal that was representative of his home town. His Calgary-inspired contribution below.
Where were you trained and who were some of your biggest influences? I did my apprenticeship at Hotel Vancouver, which at the time was a Hilton Hotel. I worked under Culinary World Champion Gerhard Pichler, who by chance was a teammate of Bruno Marti who would become my chef mentor in the business. I was also highly influenced in all things culinary by a great chef named Bernhard Weber, with whom I worked a few times in over the course of my career. Technically, he was the most incredible cook and showed me how to love what I do.
Finally, one of my best friends in the business is Chef Geoffrey Couper, with whom I attended culinary school, apprenticed with, and worked with. We remain great friends to this day.[/stag_one_half] [stag_one_half_last]What made you decide to come back to Calgary? Opportunity. The incredibly difficult project of building Catch Restaurant, a seafood restaurant, in a 110 year old former bank building in downtown Calgary. I was drawn to the community feel of the city, which I remembered from my time here as a young boy. Naturally, “community” has become a cornerstone of my business philosophy!
Selling fresh seafood in a “beef city” was also no small challenge, and I like to think I contributed to the city to becoming nationally recognized as a restaurant city.
Tell us a bit about The Nash. The Nash opened on November 20, 2014 in the community of Inglewood. I was immediately drawn to a unique opportunity: great local landlords and a 107-year-old former hotel in an area that had become a fairly rough and tumble part of town, until it experienced a great renaissance about 10 years ago. The building had stood empty for all that time, so again I had a blank canvas on which to build a restaurant which, again, could become part of the fabric of a great community.
I got the chance to work with fantastic designer Sarah Ward—who had previously designed NOtaBLE—and to create a restaurant that would reflect back on the history of the former hotel in feel and design. I wanted a bar was a bit dark and mysterious, to which Sarah added a red light that turns on in the adjacent ice room. When it shines through the grills above, it’s reminiscent of the seedy red light feel of the old neighbourhood. The restaurant area is lighter, gathering all of the natural light from the windows and, after dark, glowing from beautiful custom fixtures Sarah designed. She totally nailed the design!
Tell us about The Nash and Off Cut Bar's cocktail program. We collaborated with Lauren Mote (of Bittered Sling), who we think is one of the best mixologists in the continent, to create a unique and “grown up” cocktail program at Off Cut Bar. The program includes both contemporary and classic cocktails, as well as a “design your own” Negroni and Old Fashioned program.
We look forward to continue working with Lauren in evolving the program. She is so much like us in that she loves to impact our people in positive ways.
Your greatest source of inspiration? People who are excited about what they are doing.
Describe the dish you made for us. How does it evoke Calgary for you? Chocolate braised Alberta Bison shortribs, served over smoked celery root puree and mushroom ragout. It’s a dish that employs a great Alberta product; combines deep and skilled culinary techniques in the stocks, braising, and reductions; and provides a spark of creativity with dark chocolate grated into the finish of the sauce. Combined with the smokey, earthy flavour of the celery root puree and the mushroom ragout, It makes a great dish for a -20C night!
Your favourite local ingredient(s)? Beef. All cuts—I love beef. We have great local pork and poultry, as well as earthy vegetables like local carrots, celery root, cauliflower, and beets. There are also some great cheeses and local dairy products - Sylvan Star, Fairwinds Farm, Vital Greens and even more great stuff if we creep across the BC border into the Kootenays.
Your favourite dish growing up? Burgers. That’s why both restaurants serve great ones, all made in house… including the bun! NOtaBLE won at YYC burger week last year.
If you had a friend from out of town visiting for only a couple of day, what would you take them to see, do and eat in Calgary? I’d take them to the Rockies of course, but on a rugged trail somewhere in Kananaskis, then for a drive to Millarville for the Saturday Market in mid summer, followed by a stop at CrossRoads Market (our most authentic market).
After taking them to eat first at NOtaBLE and The Nash, I’d take them to Model Milk, Corbeaux Bakehouse, OEB breakfast, and Anju.
Drink of choice?It’s gotta be a whiskey sour. Always. I also love wine of all types, and in all situations.
Your perfect breakfast? One of my favourite meals: a great frittata. I love eggs, and they are a great vehicle for amazing and delicious ingredients and lovely, gooey cheese. Oh, and always served with hot heavily buttered toast!