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Summer Lovin’ L’Été des Chefs

The summer-long foodie event, Été des chefs Balnea is all about the pleasure of discovering new flavors while out for a day of relaxat...


The summer-long foodie event, Été des chefs Balnea is all about the pleasure of discovering new flavors while out for a day of relaxation. With a little lighthearted competition thrown into the mix, nine renowned chefs will stretch their talent muscles and execute on some innovative dishes for the festival’s fifth straight year.

In one of the highlight media launches of the summer, a busload of eager editors spent a heavenly day at Bromont’s popular Balnea Spa for an avant-goût of the plates and to indulge in the blissful surroundings. Part nature reserve, part upscale hotel spa, this destination is among the region’s top day getaways, and more than lives up to all of the positive feedback it gets here in Montreal.



After changing into bathing suits and bathrobes, we made our way to the upper-level terrasse overlooking the property and pristine lake beyond. Here we enjoyed a sparkling cocktail while taking in the press conference where the competition officially got underway as we were introduced to this year’s cast.

The roster is talent personified from some of the city’s most lauded kitchens, and a veritable who’s who of the Montreal culinary scene. They are:
  • Alexandre Gosselin of Chez Victoire
  • Guillaume Cantin of Les 400 Coups
  • Marc-Alexandre Mercier of Hôtel Herman
  • Carles Abellan of (as yet unopened!) Tapas 24
  • Eric Gonzales of Les Enfants Terribles
  • David Côté of Crudessence
  • Shinji Nagai of Shinji
  • Luc Vaillancourt of Antidote FoodLab, in Sherbrooke
  • Fisun Ercan of Barbounya
Beginning June 29th, inspired by the region and the setting, each chef will prepare one dish to be featured at the spa during one week, as well as all summer long at that chef’s home restaurant. The scope is limitless, except that each dish must contain at least one product designated ‘Créateurs de saveurs’, an official certification for items coming from the Townships region.

To ‘sweeten’ the deal, decadent Old MTL pastry shop La Maison Christian Faure has gotten in on the act and will create a new dessert each week to accompany the chef’s plate and wine (from the Townships wine route) paired by the restaurant’s sommelier.


A jury picks the winner, but the public can also partake by ordering one of the dishes, either at Balnea or city restaurant, and entering a prize draw worth $5000 that includes a couple’s spa member card valid for one year, a gourmet tasting in each of the 9 restaurants, a recipe book signed by the chefs, an all-inclusive epicurean weekend getaway, and a selection of ‘Créateurs de saveurs’ products.

Back to launch day, where post-conference we were treated to a sampling of the star dishes in the form of gourmet food stations set up around the property. 


For Barbounya, it was a zucchini pancake with smoked mackerel, coriander, and spicy salsa, while Shinji had me back for seconds with his salmon, matane shrimp, seaweed, and Jerusalem artichoke chips concoction. 



Served in the shell, Hôtel Herman’s razor clams with squid ink breadcrumbs looked like they had just been born from the sea, and Les 400 coups’ cold smoked Gaspésie lobster with local radishes and tomatoes, pine dressing and fermented buttermilk foam was as attractive to look at as it was delicious! Even the vegetarian entry amped up the flavor with delicious shitake mushrooms and tempeh served with a cashew crème fraîche, courtesy of Crudessence.

          

After making the rounds and snapping photos, we had time to take in the thermal experience, complete with live music, chair massages, and new paddleboard yoga. A fan of the bath cycles myself, I made sure to get in a few before kicking back on a chaise to admire the blissful backdrop and to ponder my favorite plate!


For information, visit Balnea.ca

D.G.


Photo Credits: ©Jimmy Hamelin

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