10 Questions to Jean-Michel Blouin, Executive Chef at Restaurant Beffroi Steak House
It’s through the frenzy of the second service, behind the grill, that we met up with Jean-Michel Blouin, Executive Chef at Restaurant Beffroi Steak House, located inside Hotel Palace Royal on the outskirts of Old Quebec. Hard at work cooking the meat as only he can do, he gave us a few minutes of his time to answer our questions.
Passionate, creative, motivated; his love for cooking has not changed since the opening of the restaurant in 2000. Just yesterday, he created his first menu and wowed his first customers. He knows how to charm and fascinate them, no matter if they are regulars of the Restaurant Beffroi Steak House or here to discover the menu for the very first time.
True maestro in the kitchen, he likes to add his personal touch to classics of yesterday and of today. Meat no longer holds any secrets for him. He takes the time to choose it, cut it, season it, cook it and manages the ageing of the finest pieces.
To say the least: the Restaurant Beffroi Steak House experience reflects perfectly the Executive Chef’s vision.
How long have you been working for JARO Hotels?
I’ve been working for JARO Hotels for 18 years now. I am currently the Executive Chef of Restaurant Beffroi Steak House.
Why did you choose to work at Restaurant Beffroi Steak House?
It’s a long story. In fact, as a teenager, I lived in the suburbs and every Friday and Saturday night, I would go into town and that’s when I discovered that a hotel was under construction. I followed the evolution of the building and every time I passed by, I thought to myself: “One day, I will become a Chef in the hotel’s restaurant.” Once the walls were up, I came by regularly to see if there was anyone I could give my resumé to. Finally, I saw an ad in the newspaper and not only did I send my resumé once, twice, but three times. I was called back for an interview and since that day, I’ve been working for the restaurant. I started as first cook as soon as the restaurant opened. The ultimate dream was to become Executive Chef, which I accomplished in 2006.
What do you like the most about your work?
Team spirit, but above all, family spirit. Several employees have been here for a very long time. My daughter now works with me, so family is important to me. I am part of the JARO family too, only my last name is different. When something goes wrong or doesn’t go as planned, it affects me like if it was my restaurant. The feeling of belonging has been flowing through my veins for a long time. I never come to work unhappy, I like it too much!
Tell us about the people who have helped you in your career.
The first Executive Chef who was here, Denis Chabot, gave me a lot of place to express myself. He knew from day one that I wanted his job and he gave me all the space I needed to emancipate myself. Even if I am at the top of the hierarchy, I can still evolve, every day is different. I also have a good relationship with Mr. Robitaille and his daughter Nancy, which has helped my sense of belongings.
What is the best moment in your career?
The most important moment in my career is when the general manager and the owner asked me to be Executive Chef in 2006. I was only 26 at the time, so it was a big risk, which turned out to be very rewarding. This is definitely the highlight of my career with JARO Hotels.
What attracted you to the profession?
It’s to create and see how people react to what I do. The simple act of grilling meat on natural coal brings out distinguished smells and tastes. When customers come to me only to thank me, that’s very rewarding and it fuels my passion. I’m also a big foodie so that helps!
What is your favourite ingredient?
Steak rubs. It’s magical! It’s magic on scrambled eggs, on grilled vegetables, on fish … it’s magic everywhere. I make it homemade and make sure I put a salt-free base in it, since it’s not good for your health, but also because it’s not good for the steak, it hardens it.
What is your favourite meal on the menu?
First, our dry-aged prime rib. We dry age it for 40 days in a humidity-controlled environment, which makes the meat more tender. But also our prime rib, which has made the steak house famous.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I like everything outdoors and going camping with my daughter. I really like snowmobiling in the winter. My daughter and I would also like to go to Europe next year.
In your opinion, what is the most important quality in your line of work?
We are lucky to count on Jean-Michel Blouin to be a part of the JARO family. His passion and work ethic are essential and continually help to improve the growth of the company. Feel free to greet the Chef on your next visit to the Restaurant Beffroi Steak House!