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Blunt Inquiry Asks… Chef Renée Lavallée

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 9.09.01 AMLAVALEE

What is your idea of a perfect restaurant?
It’s got to feel right; like being at someone’s house for dinner. Convivial, joyous, and the food has to be damn good.

What is your greatest fear at work?
That I’ll fail.

Which working Chef do you most admire?
I have many, but for me there are two chefs that have shaped me to be who I am today: Charlie Part of Les Fougeres & Anthony Walsh of Canoe.

What part of work ‘you’ do you most deplore in yourself?
I’m a perfectionist and that’s virtually impossible.

What would instantly make you fire someone?
Stealing.

What was your most extravagant purchase for your restaurant?
Blunt Roll aprons (and a pizza oven).

What is your favourite food journey?
When I visited Charleston last year; it was 4 days of eating and drinking with my husband and another chef and his wife. It was a happy time where we ate amazing food and got inspired. It was an indulgent trip that I’ll always cherish.

What words or phrases do you most overuse at work?
Bend at the knee! And I am known for starting off most of my sentences with “Sometimes…”

What do you regret most after all your years in the business?
Nothing.

What do you love most in about this industry?
Seeing the ‘lightbulb’ turn on in someone’s head after showing them a new technique or having them taste something they’ve never eaten before. It’s the glow in their eyes that gets me every time.

What is your current state of mind?
Frazzled.

If you could change anything about the restaurant industry where you are, what would it be?
To get over ourselves; we cook, we’re not brain surgeons.

What do you consider your most essential ingredient?
Salt.

The work/life balance struggle is real.  How good of a juggler are you?  Tips?
I have a 7 and a 5 ½ year old, plus a very new business. So far, so good. Of course there are moments of pure exhaustion and frustration, but being calm and organized helps. It also helps to have an amazing team at work and at home that always have my back.

What is your most treasured kitchen tool?
My rasp. 

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Being forgotten and unloved. 

When you finally retire, were will you live?
Italy!

What is your most marked characteristic?
That I’m a curmudgeon. 

What is the quality you most like in a chef?
Self-assurance/confidence.. not ego

What is your greatest inspiration/motivation?
My kids. They inspire me to be a better person/chef and motivate me with their strange experimental concoctions that actually sometimes work and taste good.

Superman or Spiderman?
Spiderman.

What is the first thing you remember cooking?
The shittiest pumpkin cookies known to man! My siblings used them as Frisbees outside.

Beck or Clapton?
Clapton.

You have to cook Escoffier’s death row meal.  Menu?
Whatever suits me that day, whatever inspires me.

Favourite kitchen word or phrase?
Suck it up buttercup!

The Canteen

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