Restoring the soul
*Behind every menu, product and experience, you’ll find passionate people and their stories. Discover these proud Outaouais ambassadors!
Restaurer l’âme—”Restoring the soul.” That’s the motto pinned to a bulletin board, the “dream board” of Josée, co-owner of L’Orée du Bois and spouse of chef Jean-Claude Chartrand, her partner of 30 years.
“It’s our mission,” explains Josée. “We want to give our customers the best possible time. Some of them may arrive feeling ill, or they’re bickering. But by the time they leave the restaurant, all that has changed. It’s all in the details: the welcome, the music. We have a special relationship,” she says.
I catch up with Jean-Claude, who tells me about his career path.
After working for several years in various kitchens, including those of the Château Montebello, the Château Laurier and the Club universitaire francophone, he found himself alongside Guy Blain, founding chef of L’Orée du Bois. “It was a revelation to me. I always wanted a mentor. Monsieur Blain taught me the love of regional cuisine, the human side of management. I immediately embraced this philosophy.”
After 15 years as sous-chef, he took over the restaurant with Josée, not without a certain amount of trepidation. “I came after a monument, Guy Blain. He’s a bit like the Dalai Lama! I thought, ‘I’m replacing him, I’m going to get crushed.’ But we made changes very slowly, very respectfully.”
What lessons does he retain from his predecessor? Jean-Claude answers without hesitation. “Monsieur Blain’s kindness. He was fair in everything. He’s a socialist! For him, respect was key: respect for his clients, his employees, and his suppliers. He helped so many people.”
That human side is still very much part of L’Orée du Bois. “Our 34 employees are like our children. We stick to our basic values. We help and support each other.”
How would he like to be remembered? “I’d like people to think that despite my exuberance, I’m a good person.”
It’s all about restoring the soul.
Discover our Ambassadors : tourismeoutaouais.com/en/ambassadors