Eating & Drinking

Chef Yannick Lasalle on #TakeOutDay, kitchen music, and comfort food at Les Fougeres

Lots going on at Les Fougeres! The foodie destination in Chelsea is operating their gourmet store with curbside service (just browse the huge list of items, order, and pay by phone for pick-up at a pre-determined time.)  They’re also using the store to sell $25 three-course meals on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and are trying to reach vulnerable people by setting up a free soup hotline.

Plus, chef Yannick Lasalle is offering a special dish every Wednesday to support #TakeOutDay, a national campaign that sees foodies connect through weekly Facebook Live concerts (today’s event features such headliners as the Jim Cuddy Band and Tom Cochrane). Find out more at facebook.com/GreatKitchenParty . Lasalle prepares about 100 every week; at $24 each, they always sell out.

“It’s great to sell out, but I’m anxious to be cooking with friends again,” says Lasalle. “The human interaction in a kitchen is a beautiful thing, and I miss it.” These days, his daily highlight is when owner chef Charles Part comes around to suggest new bands. They recently enjoyed a day listening to the music of Tony Allen, who died in April; Lasalle’s regular playlists include Trample By Turtle, The Avett Brothers, and Atmosphere.

And if you’re craving their fare but can’t get to the store — remember, non-essential interprovincial travel is still banned — you can find Les Fougeres prepared foods at Nature’s Buzz and other locations.

We caught up with Yannick Lasalle to ask him about his take-away operation and the impacts of Covid on the restaurant industry.

Chef Yannick Lasalle enjoys some downtime with his dog Shiraz

What factors did you consider when deciding to launch a delivery menu?
We discussed with the owners about using the store — there was a lot of food in our fridge that we had to use, and we wanted to not waste anything. We also wanted to keep that connection between our regular clients

What inspired the menu?
I’m trying to do dishes that are very comforting and are easy to reheat at home. And also dishes that people are not used to cooking at home, like pieces of meat that take hours to braise.

Braised beef with peppers and paprika (left); portobello mushrooms stuffed with Quebec cheeses and a salad of greens from the Les fougeres garden (right)

How is the Soup Hotline working? Are people using it?
We didn’t get a lot of calls, but we feel very fortunate to help out people in need

How do you think the current closures will affect the local restaurant industry in the long term?
This is a big learning curve in my career; it gives me another way to look at the different perspectives in restaurants. For example, there’s been a lot of staff who have received government help. But a lot of kitchens need a lot of hands, and I think there’s going to be a huge impact.  I think there will be a new way of looking at food, and a move towards less hands in the kitchen. I’ve worked in big kitchens with 20 or 30 cooks. When we come out of isolation, it’s going to be very hard to bring back everyone.

Les Fougeres is known for its expansive garden