Q&A with Marc St. Jacques, Executive Chef, Auberge du Pommier, Toronto, Ontario

Q&A with Marc St. Jacques, Executive Chef, Auberge du Pommier, Toronto, Ontario

Q&A with Marc St. Jacques, Executive Chef, Auberge du Pommier, Toronto
July 25, 2013

 
  • Marc St. Jacques, Executive Chef, Auberge du Pommier, Toronto, Ontario

    Education: Culinary Institute of America

  • Career Path: Spent 15 years cooking across the United States
  • Years of Experience as a Chef: “Way too long”

What are your earliest memories of cooking?

My mother teaching me how to make an omelette. At my grandparent’s farm, we used to pick and then cook vegetables together. We also used to watch Wok with Yan and then try to imitate the recipes.

As a child, my family would eat out in restaurants and city clubs when we lived in Montreal.

Why do you think you were drawn to a culinary career?

Initially it was for money. I quickly fell in love with the culture, the adrenaline rush and bond that you make with a kitchen team. It then just evolved into an undying curiosity and passion for food.

How would you describe your restaurant?

Modern French fine dining restaurant. We are very focused on great service and a creative personalized cuisine.  We cook very seasonally and are inspired by the people who work at Auberge du Pommier.

If you knew you were eating your last meal, what would you have?

It really would depend on what time of year. I would want to eat the best thing that moment in time has to offer.

What is your philosophy about food?

 

When our guests sit at Auberge they should understand where they are, what time of year it is and who is cooking their food. I hope that our food is unique to us. We focus on flavour. To do that, we source the best products and try to cook it as well as we can.   

Where do you go to dine out?

Mostly Chinatown, late night.

Who were your biggest influences or inspirations for becoming a chef?

Grandparents and all the chefs, sous chefs and cooks that I worked with along the way. They all taught me a lot.

Ardent Mills Organic 2016

What do you think is the most overrated food trend right now?

The disappearance of fine dining and great service. Everything has become way too casual.

Is there any type of cuisine that you would like to experiment with?

We are currently working on a lot of vegetable-based tasting menus and we have enjoyed working within those parameters.

What are the essential ingredients for success in the restaurant business today?

Hard work, dedication, an open mind.

What strategies do you use to attract and retain good kitchen staff?

We are genuine and passionate about what we do. We stick to our culture and have created a great team. It may not be for everyone, but the ones that fit seem to stay and thrive.

Can you share a tip for controlling your food costs?

Hard work and thoughtfulness. Not just cooking seasonally but being flexible to cook items at their prime – not just using a vegetable for its season but for its peak time at that season.

What’s in your fridge right now?

Not a lot – mostly market vegetables, milk, yogurt, farms eggs, mustard, jam, sriracha and a lot of house-made pickles.  

Do you have any culinary guilty pleasures? Food treats that you couldn’t live without?

Ice cream.

Any other thoughts or ideas you would like to share?

We have developed a somewhat different perspective on what local means to us. Cooking in Toronto means that nothing is growing right down the street. Our kitchen though is very much a city kitchen and is comprised of people with different cultural backgrounds. We try and let their food taste memories and cultural influences into our food. It’s not just about how close a product is produced from the restaurant, but instead about how a product is a reference point for our cooks.

On Saturday, February 9, Chef Marc St. Jacques took home top honours at the prestigious Gold Medal Plates Canadian Culinary Championships in Kelowna, B.C. Competing against renowned chefs from across Canada, St. Jacques and his culinary team from Auberge du Pommier (now celebrating its 25th year of service) prepped and plated hundreds of dishes over the course of the competition. Together, they achieved the highest combined score from a panel of food writers, critics and industry professionals.

The two-day championships featured three individual competitions. The first was a Mystery Wine Pairing that provided each chef with the same unidentified Canadian wine. The second competition required chefs to create two different dishes using six surprise ingredients within a 60-minute time limit. The grand finale showcased each chef’s most innovative dish with a complementing Canadian wine or beer pairing.  

The Plates

Mystery Wine Pairing Competition

  • Wine: Norman Hardie 2010 County Pinot Noir from Prince Edward County.
  • Enoki mushrooms, basil and scallion wrapped in beef strip loin, dark fruit mustard, warmed with a roasted beet and red cabbage consommé.

Black Box Competition

  • Dish One: Pear mille-feuille seasoned with fresh ginger, caviar and lemon vinaigrette, warm pear and celery.
  • Dish Two: Roasted lamb shoulder on textures of kale, Gruyère cream, lamb neck jus and a red fife batter-fried shallot ring.

Grand Finale Competition

  • Québec foie gras terrine with white soy gelée, black sesame financier, Meyer lemon curd, shiso and black sesame tempura, paired with Peller Estates Ice Cuvée.

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