The self-taught chef
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He grew up in a bar in Old Hull. In Aux 4 Jeudis, to be precise. Young Jasmin would hang out there with his mother, who had two jobs, nurse and server. “I spent my pedagogical days there. By age 8 or 9, I was helping out in the kitchen. It fascinated me, that atmosphere,” he says.
After working in almost every restaurant in Old Hull, Jasmin Denis-Fournier joined the team at the St-Estèphe. “Stéphane, the owner, gave me my big break. He gave me time to learn by trial and error.”
When he wasn’t working, he experimented at home with recipes that he served to his friends, most of whom also worked in the culinary field. Those experiments helped him hone his skills, until he ended up at Le Baccara, restaurant of the Casino du Lac-Leamy, one of the finest restaurants in Quebec.
Not bad for an autodidact.
He started at Le Baccara in October 2017, after nearly 10 years at the Hilton Lac-Leamy and the Mont-Tremblant Casino. How do you prepare to enter such an institution? “I learn something every day. I’m part of a team of real enthusiasts. They’re proud to work here, they truly give it their all,” he says.
“People don’t come to Le Baccara every week. We want to offer dishes that people wouldn’t make at home, but we don’t want to intimidate them. We have to democratize gastronomy. It should be well prepared, it should be simple, and it should be memorable.”
Part of it is dusting off old classics, like that veal and lobster dish that hadn’t changed since the restaurant opened. “I set the gang a challenge: to adapt it to make it more contemporary. This is an incredibly talented group of people. We’d be crazy not to take advantage of that!”
What is he most proud of? “To still be in this profession; to have climbed the ladder; to be involved in management, research, development. It expands my horizons if ever I want to do something else … but I can’t imagine doing anything else!”
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