Chef Interview: 23 questions for Shea Robinson of Miijidaa Guelph

Chef Interview: 23 questions for Shea Robinson of Miijidaa Guelph

Shea Robinson is managing partner and chef at Miijidaa Cafe + Bistro in Guelph. His is a well-known name in Waterloo Region restaurants, but he’s also worked in Vancouver, Toronto, at wineries in Niagara, and at other CAA/AAA four-diamond establishments.

Robinson, 35, attended Sir Sanford Fleming College, Peterborough. Ont. He lives in Kitchener.

Here’s how he answered our “23 Questions.” (See our story about Miijidaa’s wine and farmer dinner here.)

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Waterloo Region Eats: Best thing you’ve ever eaten?
Shea Robinson: I have eaten so many amazing things it’s hard to pick one thing as the best. One of the most memorable was eating percebes (also known as goose barnacles) in Portugal that were cooked in ocean water and served with fresh bread and wine.

Other career you could have pursued?
Robinson: Heirloom tomato farmer. I really like gardening, especially tomatoes.

Favourite beverage?
Robinson: I have trouble picking favourites, but I do really like coffee, water, wine, whiskey and beer.

Beverage that once just about killed you?
Robinson: Vodka.

Chef you’d most like to meet?
Robinson: Michel Bras.

Best footwear (for the kitchen or otherwise)?
Robinson: Sika for in the kitchen. Blundstone for otherwise.

Favourite “international” food in Waterloo Region?
Robinson: How do you pick a favourite with so many great options to choose from?

Sikas and Blundstones are favourites (Photo: WREats).

What scares you in a kitchen?
Robinson: Dull knives and when people stop communicating on the line in the middle of a busy service.

Greatest failed recipe?
Robinson: There have been so many it’s hard to choose the “greatest failed” one, but I would have to say the time I tried to make my own tofu. Failed miserably and ended up throwing it away.

Something that gives you great pleasure?
Robinson: Spending time with family and friends.

A favourite teacher you’ve had?
Robinson: I can’t pick favourites. I have had a lot of great teachers both in school and in kitchens.

Do you ride a bike?
Robinson: Not as much as I should.

A moment in your life you’d like to have back?
Robinson: There isn’t a moment that jumps out at me.

Where were you born?
Robinson: Peterborough.

Favourite band?
Robinson: I like too many different bands and styles of music to pick a favourite, but I have been listening to a lot of Iron Maiden recently.

Miijidaa preserves (Photo: WREats).

Miijidaa preserves and wine (Photo: WREats).

Who would you like to cook for?
Robinson: Corey Lee and Curtis Duffy.

The thing you wish for Waterloo Region?
Robinson: Less road construction and for people to keep supporting locally owned businesses.

Go-to late-night snack?
Robinson: Grilled cheese with ketchup and a dill pickle on the side.

Best thing about being a chef?
Robinson: The fact that you can always learn something new every day.

Most dumbest purchase you’ve ever made?
Robinson: A home gym. I spent a lot of money on it when I was younger and used it maybe 15 times.

Robinson's tuna (Photo: WREats).

Robinson’s tuna with watercress sauce (Photo: WREats).

Favourite city?
Robinson: I really liked living in Vancouver. Waking up to a view of mountains and the ocean every day is pretty amazing.

TV chefs who annoy you?
Robinson: I don’t watch the Food Network or any other cooking show. I really hate how they have turned all the shows into a contest instead of being about food and restaurants.

Would you describe yourself as sweet or savoury?
Robinson: Ha ha! I wouldn’t use either of those words to describe myself, but I guess savoury?

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