By accepting the position of chef at the historic Champlain restaurant at Château Frontenac, Gabriel Molleur-Langevin said he wanted to make Quebec City the new gastronomic capital of Canada. Nothing less.
Associated for years with the delicious classicism of Jean Soulard, then with the mind-blowing creativity of Stéphane Modat, the Champlain enters the era of a well-assumed Nordic gastronomy, which has less to prove.
“When I think of menus, I don’t think of Barcelona sepia, I think of Bas-Saint-Laurent sea urchin or lamb. It has become a reflex for the majority of chefs here to work first and foremost with local ingredients,” says the 31-year-old chef, who has spent the past five years in the kitchens of the renowned Mousso in Montreal. .
“I’ve always worked in small restaurants. I never touched banquets, events, room service logistics,” recalls Gabriel Molleur-Langevin. “Here we have huge kitchens with big toys, big ovens, which allow us to do certain things more easily and efficiently. »
All the restaurant workers we have interviewed about the young prodigy speak of his humility, his kindness, his team spirit. These qualities are increasingly sought after in a field where stress can quickly degenerate the working atmosphere. “When the pressure rises, I’ll watch the river,” the young chief tells us. It calms me down, then I go back recharged. »
Fortunately, Gabriel does not carry all of the Château’s food services on his shoulders. He has the mandate of commandant of the Champlain and special gastronomic events, under the supervision of the director of catering, Frédéric Cyr. Le Sam, the bistro formula of the iconic hotel, for example, has its own chef, Thomas Amalfitano, who also serves the Eléa terrace, newly opened to the public.
From the outset, the expectations of his new employers were ones of confidence. “I was basically told: here’s what you have in hand, develop your concept and have fun with it! Gabriel Molleur-Langevin’s first menu is imbued with simplicity and elegance, in tune with the times. A wealthier clientele will have the opportunity to discover its “black” menu developed as part of the ephemeral dinners L’obscurity le temps d’une soirée (read our review on the previous screen).
Originally from Quebec, the one who left the metropolis to live the life of Château rediscovered his city. “It’s really very special to be back here,” he said. Things have changed a lot, whether it’s the businesses or the people who live there. Most of my childhood friends are gone. I arrive like a new city, with an amazing new job, my French-born wife and our dog! It’s quite exciting. »
Believe it or not, Gabriel Molleur-Langevin had never set foot in the Château Frontenac before being employed there: “My wife calls it the Eiffel Tower effect: when you live in a city with an iconic attraction, but that you have never visited it yourself. »
To say he was impressed with his new “offices” would be an understatement. “The Champlain is great,” he admits. It really feels like a castle. If people want to celebrate something, are looking for a special occasion restaurant, we are definitely the perfect destination. As I did not know myself, I told myself that it was necessary to introduce to as many Quebecers as possible. But we must also increase the influence of this incredible place internationally. »
Naturally, it is through the belly that the chef intends to attract customers, with products that are well established here such as blackcurrant, sunflower, halibut, lamb, honey, while introducing more niche and unknown ingredients such as chaga, thuya (white cedar), various edible flowers, etc. “Here, the producers are more accessible than in Montreal,” says the chef. They are close, but above all, they have fewer road obstacles to overcome to come see us in person. In Montreal, there are often intermediaries who take care of the distribution of good farms. In addition, in Quebec, we have one foot in the sea and one on land. Sea resources are closer. »
A great lover of cheeses and charcuterie, Gabriel fell in love with the cellar space at Le Champlain. “With the new menu, we decided to highlight this space, he tells us. Customers can go there and choose whatever they want on the board. »
It is to discover the fruits of our artisans and to participate in moments of happiness that the chef does his job. However, he does not hide his objective of not only maintaining the fine reputation of Le Champlain, but also ensuring that the majestic restaurant becomes “THE” table not to be bypassed in Quebec.
– Originally from Quebec, the chef studied restaurant management at Collège Mérici from 2008 to 2011.
– He did internships abroad, at the three-star Michelin Régis and Jacques Marcon, in Haute-Loire (France), then at the renowned Noma (Denmark) and Fäviken (Sweden). It was in Scandinavia that he fully understood the potential of Nordic ingredients.
– Before spending five years at Mousso and ending his stay as executive chef, he worked at Laurie Raphaël, Le Clocher penché and Europea.