PITTSTON — Michael Langdon just wants to cook for you.
After working in private facilities, including the Huntsville Golf Club, for nearly a decade, Langdon is excited for the opportunity to create dishes for the masses.
The Plains Township native and current West Pittston resident recently took over as executive chef at Tomato Bar & Bistro on Tomato Festival Drive downtown in January.
“It’s been amazing so far,” said Langdon, 37. “My mom can come here and eat my food now.”
Langdon, a graduate of Coughlin High School and the Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts in Pittsburgh, has traveled the country as a chef. He started his career working for Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, assisting in the creation of new restaurants in Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan and other places.
At one point, viewers across American were able to watch him in action during his stint on the 11th season of the Fox reality show “Hell’s Kitchen” with Gordon Ramsay.
But that experience wasn’t a turning point for him — it was long before that. Langdon said working for chefs Georges Perrier and Chris Scarduzio at Brasserie Perrier in Philadelphia, which served modern French fare with Italian influences, was a “pivotal” moment in his career.
“It was there I learned about food — it changed everything,” said Langdon. He said the high pressure of working at a popular city restaurant pushed his perfectionism to the max, which influences his cooking today.
His focus at Tomato Bar, he said, is to give people an experience they can’t get anywhere else. From the freshest ingredients to the highest quality service, he wants patrons to sit back, relax and enjoy the show.
“I want people to come on in and hang out,” he said. “The atmosphere is electric now.”
One dish on the menu — lemon pepper fettuccine in a cream sauce with morel mushrooms — highlights this focus on farm-to-table-style fare.
“I know the name of the guy who picked those mushrooms,” said Langdon.
The chef wants to infuse local ingredients and products from homegrown businesses into his cuisine as much as he can. He looks forward to the Pittston Farmers Market in the summer, and he’s already using brews from Susquehanna Brewing Company in his dishes.
Langdon said he’s excited to be part of the renaissance in Pittston. “There’s a lot of pride in downtown Pittston,” he said. “It’s cool that the people care here.”