Michael Stadtländer grew up working on his family’s farm outside of Lubeck, West Germany. The oldest of three brothers, he learned about cooking and eating with local ingredients from his mother and grandmother, both of whom cooked for the German border police.
At 15, he began an apprenticeship at a Lubeck restaurant and worked in the kitchens of several restaurants in Stuttgart. For his mandatory military service, Stadtländer served as chef and baker on a German Navy destroyer.
The German chef dreamed of moving to Canada at an early age, after falling in love with the country’s landscape and wilderness through National Film Board documentaries and a CBC series set on Manitoulin Island. In the late 1970s, he became friends with Canadian chef Jamie Kennedy when they cooked together at the Grand Hotel National in Switzerland. When Kennedy received an offer to head up a new restaurant, Scaramouche, in Toronto, the pair decided to act as co-chefs, and Stadtländer emigrated to Canada in 1980.