Back in 1995, I landed a job at Les Fougeres in Chelsea, Quebec. Right off the bat, I knew this place would teach me things. The owners & Chefs, Charlie & Jennifer Part, were very present in the kitchen; arriving first thing in the morning to get ready for lunch service, until late at night, when the last tables were fed. Not only was I amazed by their dedication, but also the fact that they had 2 small kids while trying to make their dreams come true.
What captivated me about this magical restaurant was the care that they took to support local farmers and suppliers, as well as growing a lot of their own vegetables, edible flowers and herbs. I felt at home here and never wanted to leave; that was until I ended up having to move to Niagara for love (a much longer story).
Fast forward to two years later where I found myself at a crossroads after having worked in Toronto for a few years. I reached out to Charlie and Jen, and was welcomed back with open arms to become their Sous-Chef. Here, I stayed for 3 years and found my passion for cooking local, seasonal and sustainable food. Their love and respect for their suppliers resonated with me and I found it refreshing to see how hands on they were with all the food that entered their doors. They instilled in me the importance of using local suppliers, seasonal ingredients and to make them shine.
To this day, I try and follow their rules in my own restaurant. I've even gone as far as opening up my own place, with my husband, while having 2 small kids. They have had a huge impact on the way I cook, the way I see food, and the way I treat my own staff, always as family.
My food hero is the dynamic duo of Charlie and his wife, Jennifer. Not a day goes by where I wonder....what would they do? Thank you for making me a better cook.
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