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.
“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.
“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.”
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.”
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
1 lobster, cooked and cracked
1 tomato, peeled and diced
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
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.
Domaines Paul Mas Le Berceau 2017
$14.60Sparkling rosé750 mlFranceSAQ code : 12841510
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