The chef behind Les Fougères
“I don’t like to talk about my food. I want it to speak for itself,” says Yannick LaSalle, the chef at Les Fougères restaurant.
For the past several years, his food has been appreciated and recognized not only by local residents, but on a larger scale: in February 2019, Yannick won the gold medal and the title of Canadian Culinary Champion at the Canadian Culinary Championships in Kelowna, BC.
Learning from the greats
After completing his chef’s training in the Pontiac, his native region, Yannick got his professional start at L’Orée du Bois alongside chefs Guy Blain and Jean-Claude Chartrand before moving to Les Fougères, owned by Charles Part and Jennifer Warren. Internships at top restaurants in France, California and New York broadened his culinary horizons and introduced him to the “farm to table” concept. He returned to Les Fougères energized and brimming with ideas.
Inspiration on the doorstep
The young chef finds daily inspiration in the impressive garden behind the restaurant, maintained for 15 years by Jenny-the-Gardener. “I’m inspired by freshness. I like to feature vegetables more prominently than protein.” And, of course, there are the local products. “We have such wonderful artisans here: Le Coprin, Saveurs des Monts, Juniper Farm …”
“I like food to be simple and flavourful, and I want people to feel good when they leave the restaurant,” he explains.
Les Fougères’ co-owners, give Yannick carte blanche when it comes to creating the menu. “They’re there to help me when I need it. I work with my managers and my team, and together we’re always coming up with new ideas.”
Team spirit according to Yannick
As everyone knows, the restaurant industry can be challenging. Les Fougères’ chef is particularly proud and grateful to be surrounded by colleagues who help each other out and enjoy working together. “That really warms my heart. The team is passionate, quite prepared to put in 13- or 14- hour days. I couldn’t ask for more!”
Does he see himself as a positive leader? “I try to be! I have a strong sports background. In sports as in the kitchen, my coaches taught me well: you have to give people the freedom to express themselves. We all have our bad days—the important thing is to keep the lines of communication open.”
Yannick has travelled around the world, but he always comes back to his roots. As he sees it, the Outaouais stands out for its human warmth, its friendliness. “People here come together, like a family.”