By Catherine Lefebvre
A native of Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Alexis Jégou, Executive Chef at Les Labours and Le Bercail restaurants at Le Germain Charlevoix Hotel & Spa is taking full advantage of his return to the region, having spent the majority of his career in Quebec City.
What are the best things you’ve discovered since your arrival at Le Germain Charlevoix Hotel & Spa?
First, I was greeted by a passionate team. This is essential for the success of my work. What’s more I had the privilege of collaborating with colleagues who have a different hotel vision. In particular, they insisted on the hotel having its own gardens and forging close links with local producers. I also had the pleasure of getting closer to a rich and diversified terroir.
In what ways would you like to promote more local and seasonal products?
I would really like to maximize the use of our gardens. I would also like to highlight our crops on our menus, so that they are the stars of the dish. Beyond our gardens and our farmyard, i think it also makes sense to list the provenance of the ingredients we use as often as possible. Not only does it introduce our region's producers to our customers, it also pays tribute to them in a way.
What's going on in the hotel's gardens this year? And how do you process the crops?
Everything is going well in our gardens this year and Mother Nature is on our side. We have a good production of micro greens (sprouts) and quality garlic. Over the course of the harvest, the majority of vegetables and fruits will appear on our menu when they are at their peak of maturity and freshness. In terms of preserving we’ll use lacto-fermentation for certain vegetables, others we’ll marinate, or process them into purees or pesto. Nothing is wasted!
What are the advantages of working in the country rather than in the city?
There are several advantages to working in the country, the proximity to nature and activities like skiing, fishing, and cycling for a start. Also the landscapes are breathtaking, from the banks of the rivers to the woods. And best of all, there is no big city traffic or stress!
What is your vision for the cuisine at Les Labours and Bercail for the coming years?
I want to continue to create new dishes with my teams and to develop new cooking and preserving techniques to maximize local products. It’s our way of offering a unique experience in Charlevoix.