Chef Louis Pacquelin: Sailing on to Excellence

Chef Louis Pacquelin: Sailing on to Excellence

LiQ_Mag_Dec_2014This article first appeared in the December 2014 issue of Life in Québec Magazine.

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By Héloïse Leclerc

The well-known show Les Chefs proves it: this high-stakes profession intrigues.

Through the small screen, viewers have gotten acquainted with Québec’s new talents in the food industry, but one of its emerging stars still remains fairly unknown. Louis Pacquelin simply prefers the kitchen life to the limelight.

At the age of 25, he is the executive chef of Le Panache, one of Québec’s finest tables, nestled in the acclaimed Auberge Saint-Antoine.

Pacquelin was 14 when he had to pick a place to intern as part of France’s professional exploration curriculum. With little interest for prolonged formal studies, he went for what he thought would be easiest, and settled for an internship at a restaurant near his home. The shock was brutal.

Thrown in the dishwashing pit right off the bat, he was then assigned to the usual trainee tasks, such as the dreaded potato-peeling duty. It was not long before the bug bit him. “The setting, the ambiance, the fact that as soon as I step in a kitchen, all my worries seem to vanish…,” he now explains.

Pacquelin began hospitality training in secondary school and then studied, interned and worked in several Michelin-starred establishments in France. When the opportunity to join Le Panache’s brigade presented itself, he packed eight years of training and experience into his suitcase and set sail for Québec. And he couldn’t have chosen a better place to drop anchor!Louis_Pacquelin_Panache

In this restaurant inspired by Quebec’s rich heritage, he found the business that would provide him with challenges to match his curiosity and willpower. In less than a year and half, he went from line cook to executive chef.

The young captain manages a team of about 50 cooks and keeps striving for the excellence associated not only with the Panache, a restaurant in a carefully restored maritime warehouse which has received a 4-diamond rating from the Canadian Automobile Association, but also with a catering and banquet service, seasonal food stands, and creative menus for special events such as Thé à la mode, jazz evenings at Le Café Artefact and the 60th Anniversary of Relais & Châteaux.

In spite of the bustle, Chef Pacquelin sustains an ongoing exchange with Alexandre Faille, the Auberge’s gardener on the Île d’Orléans, on top of mobilising the creativity of his four sous-chefs and getting involved at every station in his kitchen. “I mostly get time to think about my dishes while I’m in transit, with some music in my ears. Daft Punk in the morning and Aretha Franklin at night.”

Respectful of classical cooking and of his ingredients, Pacquelin nonetheless supports innovation in his kitchen, as long as it is with finesse – no fuss allowed.

While he states that “love is the only ingredient essential to a good dish”, you can bet he does keep a few secrets for himself. And he will need all of them, as he aspires to earn a coveted fifth diamond for Le Panache and hence become one of the youngest great chefs of the Relais & Châteaux circuit.

LiQ_Mag_Abonnez-vousWelcome aboard!

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About Author

Héloïse Leclerc

A passionate writer, a trained cook and a hungry traveller, Heloise Leclerc was born and raised in Quebec City, and has lived in Montreal, Beijing and Vancouver for the best part of the last decade. Her food obsession now channelled in food blogging, she is hoping that her many culinary projects will help the Quebec food scene thrive and get recognition as one of the most exciting anywhere in the World.

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