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Chef’s Corner: Josh Ingraham

For this edition of Chef’s Corner, which shines the spotlight on Delaware North’s culinarians, we caught up with Josh Ingraham.
Ingraham serves as Delaware North Sportservice’s executive chef at Progressive Field, home of Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians. On the heels of his second-place finish in the national #AvocadoMadness competition in March, he recently took home the People’s Choice Award in Barilla’s Represent Your Region contest.

Corporate Communications: In five words or less, describe yourself.thechefnshape_360-2562862
Josh Ingraham: Inspiring, driven, socially-responsible leader.
CC: In five words or less, describe your food.
JI: Defining taste at an intuitive level of sophistication.
CC: Who was your biggest cooking influence?
JI: Kevin Doherty, our executive chef at TD Garden. Under his tutelage, chef [Doherty] has taught me to cook with a purpose, to execute to a plan and the importance of simplifying to refine. In one phrase, he will make you question the integrity of everything you have created as “you are only as good as your last meal.” That phrase will forever resonate and will force me to question, “Is this the best I can do?”
Other influences to note would be my parents. Both Sharon (mother) and Keith (father) were outstanding cooks as I grew up. In fact, with my parents owning a seafood restaurant in Maine called Salty’s, food has always been an important part of my life. As a child, I remember going to the restaurant on Sundays to enjoy a heaping plate of Belgian waffles with Chantilly cream and strawberries piled up high to my eyes.
It wasn’t until a little while later that I began to look at food for more than most of us take it for today. It was more than something I enjoyed waking up to or sharing with friends and family; it sustains life. Things will change many times in the course of one’s life, but our perception on life is one of the most interesting. We all have our events that flip life upside down, throw us off course and force us to meet reality head on. For me it started when I was young; my father had suffered his first heart attack and instead of relying on conventional medications, he sought out a path using whole foods to build himself back. Could food really have this power to heal? I started seeing food differently as I would walk through the store; the colors were now vitamins, the shapes and ripeness were vitality, and it was my job as a chef to unlock those foods to deliver a meal that would quite literally change your world.
CC: Fill in the blank. If you weren’t a chef, you’d be…
JI: A firefighter or first responder. I’ve always had this innate sense and responsibility that somehow I should be the one to shield those who I love from the dangers that be. Perhaps this is why I prefer the heat of a kitchen or that feeling right before a 10-game home-stand. Pressure is a feeling, and feelings are controlled through the perception of your reality. Therefore, be conscience of your actions as the more frantic you will be, the more stress you will perceive. I believe that we all share a commonality in this company and in this industry. We all have great minds, above-average endurance and the tenacity to drive through anything. The average person can’t handle the rigors of what Delaware North Sportservice is able to accomplish each day as our teams take the field or line up on the ice. We define the indomitable spirit and set the standard for the rest of the industry to follow us. We have to believe that with these extraordinary gifts we can become more and use food to strengthen our communities. The next trend in our industry will be physically inspiring change through food and fitness. I invite you to follow me @thechefnshape as we continue to push the limit and what it truly means to be a chef.
CC: But…since you are a chef…what has been your favorite moment in a Delaware North kitchen (or in general with the company)? 
JI: Being a part of the Delaware North Sportservice team in Boston during the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup championship, and the honor and privilege it was to cook for the chairman and his wife at their home in Buffalo.

PHOTO CAPTION: Josh Ingraham (right) demonstrates martial arts techniques with culinary students at Johnson & Wales University.