Chef Alain Léger
Just a few words to introduce myself to you. I was born and raised in New Brunswick, descending from a long line of Acadian ancestry with a French family name going back more than 260 years in the new world. I developed an early love of eating and as a direct reaction, a deep passion for cooking. After a short stay in Université de Moncton, I then moved to Montreal in the late eighties to attend the renowned cooking school: l’Institut de Tourisme et d’Hôtellerie du Québec, where I got my Red Seal. It is during those two years that I started working in numerous restaurants and hotels in Montreal, where I stayed for 7 years. Some of these include, Le Bonaparte, the famous “gastronomique” restaurant Les Mignardises, The Ritz Carlton and the Hotel Inter-Continental Montréal.
It is then, that I was tempted with adventure and the drive to see the rest of the country. Looking at a Canadian map I decided to move to Vancouver, attracted by the mountains, the sea and the wonderful nature, devoid of the white snowy stuff I was so used to. In Vancouver, I have worked for Fairmont Waterfront Hotel and Four Seasons Hotels where I met my mentor, Michael Noble and world famous Pastry Chef Thomas Haas. It is under this Canadian Chef of the Year winner, Chef Noble, that I think I became a true cook. Michael’s mentorship provided amazing structure and knowledge to my thirsty mind. Chef Noble’s new adventure after the Four Seasons was opening the multi award winner; Diva at the Met in The Metropolitan Hotel and I couldn’t resist participating in such an exciting project. The opening of Diva resulted in a new culinary revolution in Vancouver and its legacy lives on today. I eventually stayed there for close to 5 years, going through every stage in the kitchen, culminating at the time of my departure in the position of Executive Sous-Chef. The awards for Diva are too numerous to mention here. It is also during that time that I had the opportunity to witness the process for 4 different Bocuse D’Or competitions taking place in Lyon, France.
My hard work paid off and when Mr. Noble left it was also time for me to move on to other culinary adventures. There was a knock on the door and Earls Restaurants Ltd was requesting my presence as Product Development Chef for the entire 52-restaurant chain. After that very exciting and productive time, I went back to my French roots and realized a dream of mine, becoming Executive Chef at the award-winning Bistro Pastis in Kitsilano. It was a return of sort to the roots of classic French cooking for me and a wonderful experience.
The next few years were spent as a Product Development Chef and Project Coordinator for a new Earl’s concept, The Publik. It was right after the end of that contract that Victoria came calling and I moved even further west to oversee, as Executive Chef, the kitchens of the Brentwood Bay Lodge and Spa in Brentwood Bay where the fine dining restaurant, Arbutus Grille achieved the top-5 best new restaurant in Canada from EnRoute magazine.
I then moved on to Canoe Brewpub, Marina and Restaurant in Victoria where l continued my ongoing quest for excellence and passion. I’m so thrilled to be working in such a beautiful region, filled with lovely wineries, amazing seafood and a wide selection of local products from committed farmers and producers.
After the Canoe experience, I helped opened a café in beautiful Brentwood Bay before landing at the Penny Farthing and Vis-à-vis restaurants to oversee the kitchen. It is yet another return to my true passion and I’m so grateful at the opportunity to go back to my first “true love”; French cooking.
Throughout my career, the accolades have been numerous, the awards have kept coming and my culinary profile has been featured in numerous local, national, international magazines and newspapers. I’ve also had the chance and opportunity to give cooking classes, seminars and do some consulting for various establishments. I’ve also been a judge at various cooking competitions. It is very important in the development of a young chef to find and follow a mentor and now, I can say, that I’ve become a mentor to a new generation of young chefs. I take this role very seriously. If there is a legacy to be left behind, it is that one that I’m most proud of.
During my free time, which there is very little off, I love my two daughters, consume mountains of books, visits as many restaurants as possible and dream of traveling the world in a continuous thirst for culture and knowledge, watch movies, and listens to my extensive music collection. I also admit a certain weakness for the Grands Crus Pinot Noir of the Côte-D’Or area of Burgundy, France.
I describe m cooking style as simple and pure. I much prefer to let the great ingredients shine for themselves and believe that a truly great Chef is one who can be a minimalist in transformation; a master perfectionist in technique and the ultimate purist in the choice of his products. Let the food speak for itself in bold creative ways. I am no artist, but a craftsman who cooks from the heart, with instinct and passion. It is this passion, this thirst that drives every aspect of my life. I cook things, that’s what I do and love. I am so grateful for the opportunity to do that.