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Chef Spotlight: Francis Wolf of MANOIR HOVEY in Quebec, Canada

Chef Spotlight:  Francis Wolf of MANOIR HOVEY in Quebec, Canada

Chef de Cuisine, Francis Wolf of Le Hatley Restaurant at Manoir Hovey in Quebec, Canada has been an integral part of the culinary team since 2002. Manoir Hovey is a member of the Relais & Châteaux hotels and restaurants.

Wolf discovered his passion for cooking when he was 18 years old. He began his culinary apprenticeship in his home province of Quebec, going on to hone his skills at celebrated New York restaurants under the auspices of chefs like Alan Ducasse, Daniel Boulud and Charlie Palmer, and then, later, in San Francisco with Gary Danko.

Always seeking the perfect harmony of flavors and textures, Chef Wolf constantly pushes into new culinary territory. His ambitious, terroir-driven cuisine is inspired by the bounty of the region. As a responsible citizen, he ventures beyond the boundaries of cooking, encouraging sustainability, valuing and supporting the small producer, the determined forager, the local wild mushroom purveyor, and the young and eager agricultural producer.

Broadwayworld.com had the opportunity to interview Chef Francis Wolf of Le Hatley Restaurant at Manoir Hovey in Quebec, Canada.

What was your earliest interest in cooking?

When I was about 12 years old, my father showed me how to cook and prepare some wild game. I also remember baking cake with my mother - and by baking, I mean licking the batter off the spoon! I also "stole" vegetables from my aunt's garden and would eat them with some wild berries in my cousin's tree house.

Who were some of your career mentors?

Back in 1999, I bought 2 cookbooks that changed my perception of cuisine - Cuisine Essentiel by Michel Bras, and The French Laundry Cookbook. It was, for me, a whole new world of cuisine. My father was also a role model. He worked more than 60 hours a week at two jobs until he retired. I learned the meaning of hard work from him.

What culinary styles have influenced your career? You can mention ethnic specialties or the types of food you enjoy preparing and presenting.

In my early career, it was new Spanish Cuisine by chefs Joan Roca, Martin Berasategui and Juan Mari Arzak that influenced my culinary style. Now, because my cuisine is based on authentic, regional ingredients, I'm inspired by and have tremendous respect for those chefs who closely work with their terroir, which creates very distinctive cuisines from all over the world, such as Jeremy Charles at Raymonds in Newfoundland and Virgilio Martínez Véliz at Central in Peru.

What do you consider the most distinguishing features of your work as a chef?

My cuisine is defined as bold, authentic Quebec cuisine that is influenced by what I've identified as seven seasonal flavor profiles, inspired by the bounty of the region. Birch, Chevreau, Seafood and Shellfish, Wild Mushrooms, Plants & Herbs, Sea Plants, Poultry & Fowl, and Preserves. The menu changes constantly to reflect these seasonal offerings. I try to find new ways to interpret and pay tribute to old ingredients. For example, we tap our own birch trees at Manoir Hovey to make syrup and vinegar that is incorporated into our dishes, from the amuse bouche to desserts, from pickled fish to cakes. Often, simplicity is key to bringing out these delicate flavors, but other times we like to walk a finer line and push the boundaries with our approach. But these are also the times where we can really elaborate on great new dishes.

What is your favorite meal?

Venison, any freshly picked vegetables, fresh pasta, foie gras and sourdough bread

Tell me a little bit about your restaurant for our readers.

Le Hatley Restaurant is at Manoir Hovey, a beautiful luxury lakeside resort in the Eastern Townships region of Quebec, and a member of the luxury travel association Relais & Châteaux. We're just 20 minutes from the Vermont border. Our guests enjoy an authentic dining experience that conveys a sense of place, discovering many ingredients found nowhere else, prepared meticulously by a team of local and international talents, along with exceptional service and an extensive 800-label wine list. We have the largest cheese cart in Quebec, and an original, creative list of cocktails and pre or post dinner drinks. All this with a magnificent view of our English gardens and Lake Massawippi.

For more information on Le Hatley Restaurant at Manoir Hovey in Quebec, visit their web site at www.manoirhovey.com.

ABOUT RELAIS & CHÂTEAUX

Established in 1954, Relais & Châteaux is an association of more than 540 landmark hotels and restaurants operated by independent innkeepers, chefs, and owners who share a passion for their businesses and a desire for authenticity in their relationships with their clientele. Relais & Châteaux is established around the globe, from the Napa Valley vineyards and French Provence to the beaches of the Indian Ocean. It offers an introduction to a lifestyle inspired by local culture and a unique dip into human history. Relais & Châteaux members have a driving desire to protect and promote the richness and diversity of the world's cuisine and traditions of hospitality. They are committed to preserving local heritage and the environment, as encompassed in the Charter presented to UNESCO in November 2014. For more information and to learn about all of the Relais & Châteaux landmark hotels and restaurants, visit: www.relaischateaux.com.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Manoir Hovey

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