The next generation of chefs shines in Quebec

This text is part of the special Pleasures notebook

When it comes to gastronomy, Montreal has long stolen the limelight from the regions, including Quebec. But this is less and less true. Across the province, and even more so in our capital, magnificent projects are being carried out by a very talented next generation. What vision and ambitions nourish these inspiring leaders? We caught up with four of them to find out.

First stop: Château Frontenac. In addition to the beauty of its architecture, this place hosts a hotel and a prestigious restaurant. The Champlain table is frequented by visitors from all continents, with all the pressure that implies. However, barely a year ago, the reins were entrusted to a young chef who had never managed the kitchens of a hotel, nor even those of a restaurant with a large capacity.

This chef is Gabriel Molleur-Langevin, former right-hand man for nearly six years of Antonin Mousseau Rivard at Montreal’s Mousso, whose reputation extends beyond our borders. How to explain such a change? ” For the challenge, he answers honestly. By accepting this position at Champlain, I knew that I would learn a lot and that I would be given space to express myself freely. »

Since his arrival at the helm, and despite the constraints specific to any hotel, Gabriel Molleur-Langevin has already, by his own admission, achieved a lot with his brigade. “I started from the principle that, when you travel, you want to taste the local cuisine. So I asked myself how to best represent the Quebec region, while being accessible to everyone. »

On the Champlain menu, we find reassuring dishes and others more daring. “I can serve duck, a fairly simple protein, with original toppings. Or be more adventurous with a starter of beef parfait drizzled with lovage oil and topped with a mini-skewer of beef tongue,” explains Gabriel Molleur-Langevin, who managed to seduce his audience. He is also nominated for the title of Chef of the Year at the next Lauriers de la gastronomie québécoise, the results of which will be known on May 27.

A small table so big

One table, two chefs, ten people and ten blind gastronomic services, from Thursday to Sunday evening. This is the audacious – not to say jaw-dropping – concept of the private Kebec Club. Pierre-Olivier Pelletier and his partner, Cassandre Osterroth, launched it in 2019 after cooking side by side at Laurie Raphaël, also in Quebec. And against all odds, they managed to do well.

“We were told it would be complicated,” they confess. Limiting the number of customers to ten, with two young unknown chefs and prices higher than traditional formulas, in Quebec too, you had to believe it. But we felt that the experience we were going to offer, at once gourmet, exclusive and sociological, would work. »

A successful bet, since the micro-restaurant is now regularly full in advance, with a clientele that is half regional and half tourist. What is a typical evening like at the private Kebec Club? Guests have an aperitif and appetizers in the lounge, then they are invited to sit down to taste the evolving menu of the two chefs, who also serve. Seafood, foie gras, meat, cheese, dessert, sweets and digestives… Customers get to know each other and enjoy small, often surprising dishes, such as a sweet clover tartlet, accompanied by a quenelle of cream whipped… and a spoonful of caviar.

“Don’t worry, people love this dessert so much that it’s the only item on the menu that we can’t change!” » say the restaurateurs, who relish the total creative freedom they enjoy. They must not be in the wrong, since Pierre-Olivier Pelletier last year represented Canada at the world final of the San Pellegrino Young Chef Academy competition, which is aimed at young chefs under 30 years old. .

Sensory immersion

After his studies, François-Emmanuel Nicol thought, like many, of working in Montreal. “But the Abitibian in me was sensitive to the proximity of nature and products. Quebec was therefore an obvious choice,” says the man who since 2019 has been at the head of one of the most acclaimed experiential restaurants in Quebec, Tanière3. This establishment is also part of the short list of Relais & Châteaux and since 2022 has had the prestigious Five Diamonds from the CAA/AAA guide.

In a unique setting steeped in history, namely the vaults of the Leber and Charest houses in the old town, the chef-co-owner offers visitors a sensory immersion. And this, through a gastronomic journey of around fifteen services. “Each vault has its ecosystem,” he explains. The first is devoted to starters, the second to main courses, and the third to desserts. » When we met, the appetizers, such as foie gras with roasted artemisia, were developed with little-known plants selected by a biologist. Then seven dishes followed before dessert and sweet treats on the theme of forest fires, including a black forest cake without chocolate with shavings reminiscent of wood, closed the evening.

As we will have understood, locavorism and the discovery of the Quebec region are at the heart of the mission of Tanière3. François-Emmanuel Nicol works directly with local producers, pickers and artisans to push the boundaries of Quebec gastronomy.

And this, just like Gabriel Molleur-Langevin, who sources his supplies from neighboring regions and uses spruce shoots from his father, 20 minutes from his restaurant. This is also the case for Pierre-Olivier Pelletier and Cassandre Osterroth, who pick all the wild plants used in their cooking.

“Each city has its microclimate,” explains Pierre-Olivier Pelletier. In Montreal, creativity is driven by cultural and ethnic mixes, while in Quebec, it is the local character, anchored in the territory, which inspires us the most, I think. And the gastronomy of these two cities, just like those of the regions, which are developing by leaps and bounds, fully deserves to be recognized on an international scale. » If we rely on the recent steps taken by the La Table Ronde collective, which brings together 168 of the most beautiful tables in Quebec, so that the Michelin Guide and the World’s 50 Best are establishing themselves in the province, the young chef is not the only one to think big. And he is absolutely right.

This content was produced by the Special Publications team at Duty, relating to marketing. The writing of the Duty did not take part.

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