Interview
Jerome Ferrer: A recipe for success

Jerome Ferrer: A recipe for success

He segues from haute cuisine to street food with the same cheerful bounce because he’s motivated first and foremost by a desire to please – whether by producing a fancy five-course menu at Europea or a “Jerry burger” to be eaten on the fly!

Jérôme Ferrer arrived in Montreal at the start of the new millennium, in the company of his two “frères de casseroles”, Ludovic Delonca and Patrice de Felice. They came from Perpignan, France, armed with a burn­ing desire to succeed as well as several years’ cooking experience in the restaurant business. Their first Europea restaurant, located in a semi-basement on Rue de la Montagne, had 25 seats. The decor was on the funky side, featuring blue-leather chairs and other clichéd accoutrements. But the food was divine.

Fast-forward 17 years. Today, the Europea Group boasts some 20 locations including three partnerships in São Paulo, Brazil. The de la Montagne restaurant has grown fivefold and is now listed as a “Grande Table du Monde.” Ferrer himself has been anointed Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux. It’s been quite a journey.

Inside the restaurant Jerry Ferrer – Casse-Croûte Terroir

Photography: Julien Faugère

“What fires me up is the idea of giving customers as much pleasure as they’ve given us,” he says. “I see each obstacle I face as a challenge. And when I stumble, I pick myself up and try even harder. We value the relationships we have with our clients, and we strengthen them by always offering the best we can.” The customers certainly validate this by patronizing his restaurant 365 days a year, something that few other restaurants can boast, here or elsewhere.

STREET FOOD’S POSITIVE VIBE

Busy as he was with running Europea, Ferrer was eager to venture out of his comfort zone by setting a new goal for himself: tackling street food, in line with the current trend for democratizing haute cuisine and highlighting terroir products. The result has been a string of food trucks and snack bars called Jerry Ferrer – Casse-Croûte Terroir par Europea.

Wall decoration from the Jerry Ferrer's restaurants

Photography: Julien Faugère

“We were invited to provide food at the Just for Laughs festival one year, alongside other food trucks. Street food was something new for us, and we had two big revelations. The first involved serving thousands of hungry but cheerful customers. The second was having all these people saying thankyou for helping them discover dishes they thought they already knew.”

Mind you, Ferrer’s interpretations of some traditional dishes are indeed surpris­ing, like his special lobster roll or his version of poutine with house sauce, foie gras and creamed mushrooms. “Last summer, we had a food truck in Quebec City, and there were 6,800 clients in one day,” Ferrer remembers with a smile. No doubt that’s what he means when he speaks of “bringing a positive vibe to customers.”

PEPPER: AN IMPORTANT INGREDIENT

Next, Ferrer shares a tip for making a special burger. “First and foremost, you need good-quality meat that your butcher prepares to your specifications. Seasoning is the next vital element. I’m not talking about anything complicated here: Good salt – fine or crystal – and good pepper will make all the difference. The sheer variety of peppers from around the world is amazing. I’ve got at least 10 pepper mills on my kitchen counter. Friends tease me about them all the time, until they taste the same dish seasoned with a different pepper each time, and they discover how much this single element can transform what’s on their plates.”

WINE IS YET ANOTHER PLEASURE

When asked about his favourite wines, the chef doesn’t hesitate. “I am a wine grower’s son. My father cultivated the vineyards, harvested the grapes by hand and pressed them himself in Tournissan, southwestern France. I grew up hiking in the Massif des Corbières, working with my father at harvest time. I have a special fondness for vins de pays, not just from my corner of the world, but from everywhere similar grapes grow – they’re rustic and produce wines with a distinct character.”

Jérôme Ferrer

Photography: Julien Faugère

CHEF’S SECRET

To get the very best from the lobster, it’s important to leave the chunks big and intact. Do not immerse them in mayonnaise. Instead, drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice.

JERRY’S LOBSTER ROLL

Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking: 15 minutes
4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

1 lobster, cooked and cracked
1 tomato, peeled and diced
Olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and freshly ground pepper
60 mL (1/4 cup) garlic butter
4 to 6 hot dog buns
250 mL (1 cup) julienned celeriac
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
200 mL (3/4 cup) mayonnaise
2 green apples, julienned

Preparation

1. Cut lobster meat into chunks and place in a bowl. 2. Add tomato. 3. Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. 4. In a small saucepan, melt garlic butter. 5. Brush hot-dog rolls on each side with melted butter. 6. Toast both sides on the barbecue. 7. In a small bowl, combine celeriac and a celery slices. 8. Add mayonnaise and mix. 9. Fill the rolls with the celery mixture. Add lobster meat, tomato and julienned green apples. Serve immediately.

PINK PAIRING

Sparkling wines are a great accompaniment for seafood and crustaceans. The lobster roll perfectly suits Domaine Paul Mas, Le Berceau, a sparkling rosé laced with residual sugar but retaining a fine freshness. This Languedoc-Roussillon, from the chef’s native region, also matches the colour of the lobster’s pink flesh. A feast for the eyes and palate.

Domaines Paul Mas Le Berceau Brut 2017

$13.60$14.60

Domaines Paul Mas Le Berceau Brut 2017

Sparkling rosé750 mlFrance
Domaines Paul Mas Le Berceau Brut 2017

Domaines Paul Mas Le Berceau Brut 2017

$13.60$14.60

Sparkling rosé750 mlFranceSAQ code : 12841510
  • Grape variety(ies):
  • Grenache, 
  • Cinsault, 
  • Syrah

 

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