Portrait of a chef: Simon Laborde of Les Enfants Terribles restaurant
Professional and passionate about 2.0 marketing, Isabelle Vallée has long contributed to the cultural vitality of Montreal by handling communications for the city's biggest fashion events. Now self-employed for nearly 5 years, she assists organizations in their online presence challenges by offering 360° web strategy, community management and personalized content marketing services. In January 2015, Isabelle launched the cultural platform lesbonsplans.ca for which she acts as editor-in-chief and photographer. Curious, foodie, culture lover, she shares on this blog what to see, what to do, what to discover on the North Shore, in Laval and in the Laurentians.
Today, I have the great pleasure of transporting you to the world of Les Enfants Terribles. Does the name ring a bell? A restaurant with a bistro concept that first made its mark on Bernard Street in Montreal, Les Enfants Terribles now has four locations in the greater Montreal area, including one here in Laval, at the Centropolis, for our great pleasure! We met with the young executive chef, Simon Laborde, who is passionate about flavors and local discoveries, and who offers us a tasty cuisine inspired by his travels.
Simon, you weren't really destined to be a chef. Tell me, how did you develop this passion for cooking?
It's a combination of circumstances actually. I wanted to be a journalist first. I studied at CEGEP in arts and letters. While I was studying, I answered a job offer in the kitchen at a Boston Pizza. I had never really worked in a restaurant before. It wasn't long before I realized that I had a real facility for this job, even though it was more assembly than cooking. It was a work colleague who suggested that I do a DEP in cooking. From the first day of classes in this program, I knew that this was what I wanted to do. I did my first internship at the St-James (which was then a 5 Diamond rated establishment). At 22, I started working at Le Vallier and then helped open the Outremont branch of Les Enfants terribles, where I became the executive chef.
Did you know that a brunch menu is offered on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 3 pm?
Describe a typical day as an executive chef of 4 (soon to be 5) branches.
I wake up, check the day's schedule on my phone and within the first 15 minutes of my day, I change the entire schedule based on discussions with my teams (laughs). I also make surprise visits to the different branches to ensure quality and uniformity in terms of service, presentation, etc. I also attend meetings with my managers and the staff. I also attend meetings with my chefs (I work a lot with my chefs to develop menus) and I do employee recruitment. I also negotiate prices and volume purchase agreements with producers and suppliers. I must always ensure the quality of the products purchased.
And scoop, a Les Enfants Terribles restaurant will open soon in Magog.
How do you stay on top of new trends in bistronomy?
It's much easier today to stay on top of the latest trends with the internet and Instagram. I open my Instagram and I can see what a chef from Copenhagen has posted. I also buy books. I believe in being interested in what affects our craft. Shows like Chefs Table on Netflix also inspire us. Since I do a lot of management, I also try to keep up with what's going on in the restaurant business. Whenever there's a new restaurant opening, I go try it out. I also travel a lot.
Do you have a tip for people who want to cook more?
It depends on what kind of cooking we're talking about, but I would say to always have a base in the freezer: a chicken broth, a beef broth, because it's often time consuming to make. It's a good idea to also have small sealed containers of pesto base in the freezer, another ingredient that can really simplify our lives. A recipe that might take an hour and a half to make can be done in 45 minutes easily.
A must-try dish at the restaurant Les Enfants Terribles in Laval
Braised short ribs of course (laughs). The beef cheek shepherd's pie is really worth trying too. I would like to tell you a lot of dishes depending on the season. In summer, the ancestral tomatoes stuffed with burrata, an Italian cheese, is magical!
Finally, what is the best table in your restaurant?
That's a tough question, because there are many beautiful tables here in Laval. I would probably say our round table overlooking the heart of Centropolis or the long table near our wine cellar.
Education/Awards won or distinctions: Last year, Simon was the big winner of the TV show Le Combat des villes. We wish him the best of luck as he is currently auditioning for the Canadian show Chopped. In addition, he is taking steps to do an internship this summer at the coveted Central Restaurante in Lima, Peru (which was named the fourth best restaurant in the world). We hope that this will happen!