Cookbook | Arnaud Marchand: Democratizing the Boreal Terroir

The world of catering and gourmet agriculture is full of stories, reflections, solutions. Once a month, we give the floor to those who make up the richness and diversity of Quebec’s mouth-watering trades.

Posted at 11:00

Iris Gagnon-Paradis

Iris Gagnon-Paradis
The Press

(Quebec) At the head of Chez Boulay – boreal bistro since its opening on 1er May 2012, Chef Arnaud Marchand strives to highlight our boreal soil. Ambassador for Aliments du Québec on the menu, the Frenchman of Origin has set himself the mission of democratizing the products of our territory while rethinking the restaurant model in a healthy way.

Premier Service

“I come from the center of France, a small village of 400 inhabitants called Chalmazel. I grew up in an environment as much agricultural as working. We had our garden, our chickens, our rabbits. My father hunted, he made his own charcuterie. We made our terrines, our beans, we harvested, we listened! I was raised in this love of food where there was also this concern for economy. »

“I loved cooking with my mom, but until I was 14-15, I had no vision of going to the kitchen. Then I went on a four-year course, but I did internships that I didn’t really like. I didn’t get hooked until my very last internship. It was a logis hotel in France, a two star hotel where everything was homemade. It was the whiplash! My first sacred fire, the first stove thrill. »

I then stayed to work during the summer. I was in the pantry. One day I will remember it for the rest of my life, the chef made me come warm with him one afternoon. The room was full, we stood up, we stood up, I knew exactly what I had to do, I loved it. That’s what it takes in the kitchen: someone who gives us that desire. This leader changed the course of my life, in the end.

Arnaud Marchand, co-owner of Chez Boulay – boreal bistro

“One bath at a time, I worked one winter at Les Airelles, in Courchevel, in the Alps, a luxurious hotel with very high standards where it serves a very traditional Bocuse cuisine. All the mastery behind a background, a juice… I learned a lot. I worked with the best products in the world, while learning the basics. I finally did seven seasons there and ended up as deputy chef with 30 cooks under my command.


Originally from France, Arnaud Marchand was trained in excellent tables in his country.

“In this type of establishment, the relationship was not necessarily with the local product, but with the beautiful products, the exceptional products. We worked with the smoked salmon from Russia, the most prized and expensive in the world, we received products from the Mediterranean directly from the fishermen who were five hours away to bring them to us, the shrimp were still moving!

“In Les Airelles, I met my wife Sophie, a Quebecker. I applied for a work holiday permit and came to Quebec, I worked at L’Initiale with Yvan Lebrun. Then we got married, and we went back to France for three years. I had great proposals, great job opportunities in Michelin stars. I had two options: write an exceptional resume with a life dedicated to work, work, work, or come and move to Quebec, where I saw more latitude to continue in the profession while having a family life . »

Second service


Chez Boulay recently celebrated its 10th anniversary.

„I arrived at the Château Bonne Entente with Marie-Chantal Lepage. I stayed a year and then just then, the first season of the show The cooks! was beginning. At first I didn’t want to embark on it, but I ended up being persuaded, and I was selected to join the brigade. It was a beautiful human adventure, I loved the experience, the endangerment.

I met Jean-Luc Boulay at that time and some time later he offered to join me to open the bistro. I refused three times! But he did not give up. I had never wanted to be a boss, but I ended up saying, why not? And that’s how we launched Chez Boulay, 10 years ago, with this desire to thank this caring province that welcomed us both.

Arnaud Marchand, co-owner of Chez Boulay – boreal bistro

“Initially, I had never tasted a boreal spice!” I started from scratch. Le Boulay, at the time, was a veritable laboratory of continuous research and development: the boreal spices of Fabien Girard, a forerunner with whom we began to collaborate, the vinegars from here and the verjus to work the acidity other than with citrus, lemon, how to replace olive oil with sunflower oil, camelina, cranberry seeds … Pe an essay full of things.

“There have been exceptional discoveries, such as roasted canola oil from the Cape Coop in the Gaspé, links that have been forged like [Saindon], who had just started growing sea buckthorn in Saint-Ferréol, at a time when this small fruit was not yet known. Discovering products like asclépiade, quenouille heart, daisy buttons with Gourmet Sauvage and Ariane [Paré-Le Gal] who have greatly popularized this aspect.

“All this in a kitchen that looks like me, with my bottoms, my sauces, all the techniques I learned during my years in France.” The balance of the dishes, the flavors, the textures, that’s what interests me. We are a bistro in Old Quebec, we had to adapt to our customers. »


Arnaud Marchand in a restaurant located at 1110 rue Saint-Jean, Québec

For me, a restaurant is a place of education. So what we had to find was how to popularize the boreal, get people interested in what’s growing here, but integrated it into something they recognize, like a veal blanket with balsamic myric. As I like to say: reassuring cuisine that gives you a boreal slap.

Arnaud Marchand, co-owner of Chez Boulay – boreal bistro

“To call oneself a borealist is to use products that grow in Canada. This does not mean that all the time, I will have products from Quebec. At the beginning of 60% of local products, then at an evolution of 70%, 80%, 90%. We see 100% local restaurants in Quebec, and so much the better. We are not there yet, there are some challenges with the volume we are making; But thanks to this volume, we are an important support for local producers. »

Third service


Rethinking the way the restoration is seen is also a workhorse of the leader.

“I have a very special connection with Jean-Luc. In 10 years, we never hung up. We like to tease and challenge ourselves. From the outset, it was a success that did not go unnoticed. At one point, I found that it was too much and on a reduced capacity of the restaurant from 20% to 30%. To regain the pleasure of cooking, to spend time with customers, to slow down services. Going to growth at all costs, I’m far from it. Me, I want to handle a decline, and I think it can be very bright, it’s very good.

“Over time, evening chef Guillaume Caron, who started committing here 10 years ago, day chef Olivier Langlois, who has been here for five years, and restaurant manager Patrice Auclair, have become associates. For me, it was essential in the evolution of a restaurant that the people who signed up, who gave themselves, have that reward.

“We opened Les Botanistes just before the pandemic, and then the Comptoir Boréal, a laboratory where people can taste our pastries.” The pandemic has brought us a lot of things. We started from scratch, we redid all the foundations. It was an opportunity to ask ourselves: what do we want for the future?


Democratizing the local and the boreal: the heart of Chez Boulay’s mission.

“We’ve found ways to put producers ahead, we’ve structured things better for our employees, with 40-hour, 4-day / week schedules for everyone. I work a lot on the revaluation of the profession of cook, restaurateur. It is very important and it is up to us first, to give a quality work, in a healthy environment.

“Pe o platformă creată, For the family, with beautiful content, stories of producers, customers, employees, things we want to share. On a vu, avec la pandémie, an extraordinary solidarity of the people who encouraged the producers. We try to enhance these links between customers, employees and producers.

“With this war going on, we see that food self-sufficiency, and of countries in general, is taking on a new meaning. Are we forced to eat so many products from other countries, with shipping costing a fortune? There is also the issue of accessibility to Quebec’s maritime products, an issue that is paramount. To break this system installed and encrusted there and which no longer needs to be. It is a sharing of a wealth of land in a region that is being lost. »

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