Chef-owner of the restaurant Les Têtes Brûlées, in Mascouche, Thomas Deschamps won the regional qualifications for the Canadian Culinary Championship and will represent Montreal – and Quebec – at the pan-Canadian final.
The pan-Canadian culinary competition (named Great Kitchen Party in English) has been well established in English Canada for almost 20 years. For several years, he has been trying to gain ground in Quebec. It was undoubtedly the most ambitious edition to date in Montreal: the qualifications took place Monday evening at the ITHQ Restaurant, in the company of around sixty guests.
Five chefs from diverse backgrounds competed to win these qualifications and thus represent Quebec during the final which will be held in February 2024, in Ottawa. The contenders: Arthur Muller (Chef Muffy – Auberge Saint-Antoine in Quebec), David Bernard (Joséphine), Thomas Deschamps (Les Têtes Brûlées), Maxime Lizotte (chief wolastoquez of the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation) and Rémi Lemieux (Nomi).
All presented very elaborate dishes, representing their background and their vision of cuisine, presented in pairing with a Canadian wine. Salmon in a gravlax-style brioche bread crust (Arthur Muller) rubbed shoulders with a chimera of Brome Lake duck with Kamouraska eel (David Bernard), or a sophisticated variation around beef and eggplant (Rémi Lemieux). The latter two earned bronze and silver medals respectively.
Perhaps a little less refined than the others, our favorite was nevertheless the proposal of chef Maxime Lizotte: very well prepared, his seal from the Magdalen Islands paid homage to this often unloved meat by sublimating it with ingredients natives such as rose hips and wild plants from the territory of the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk nation, near Cacouna, in Bas-Saint-Laurent.
The big winner, with a perfectly mastered and visually magnificent dish, offered a pork cheek braised in a well of puff pastry, topped with a morello cherry ravioli, and accompanied by a delicate and airy sweet potato ravioli and yellow beets. Of French origin, Thomas Deschamps has been operating an establishment in Quebec for nine years. His first project, Le Maudit français, opened in Vieux-Terrebonne before moving to Mascouche. After the pandemic, he decided to reinvent his offer by renaming his restaurant Les Têtes Brûlées. He also participated in the show Aid Requested, with chef Louis-François Marcotte, in 2021.
The jury was composed of Gildas Meneu (journalist at L’Épicerie), Chris Johns (author and gastronomic columnist), Marie Pâris (editor-in-chief, HRI magazine), Robert Beauchemin (who was a gastronomic critic, notably in La Presse), Lilly Nguyen (cookbook author) and chef Imad-Eddine-Makraji, chef of Bab Kech and winner of the 2022 edition.
The final of the Canadian Culinary Championship will take place in Ottawa on February 3 and 4, 2024. Ten chefs from across the country will be taking part.