Beaches, Ballet and the French Gourmet

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It’s a fine day in July and Chef Emmanuel Charretier is standing on a beach in Grand-Digue, surrounded by sun, sand, sea…and ballet dancers. He’s lending his cooking skills to a unique fundraiser for local dance company, Atlantic Ballet Atlantique Canada.

The visually stunning outdoor performance, paired with the culinary stylings of Charettier is, in every way, a feast for the senses.

“Of course, I had to make a dish that represents the Maritimes,” said Charettier, who treated the audience to his signature seafood chowder – made with locally sourced ingredients, of course. “I have always worked with local producers. I request it up front.”

So how does a chef from France’s Loire Valley end up on New Brunswick’s Acadian Shore? It all comes down to a matter of taste.

After following his passion for cooking from France to England, upstate New York, California, Florida, Hong Kong, Australia, and Québec, Charettier and his wife fell in love with the cultural and culinary flavours of the Maritimes. They settled in New Brunswick and opened their own restaurant.

Since 2013, Charettier has been sharing his cooking expertise and industry insights with Culinary Arts students at NBCC Moncton Campus, preparing them follow their own food-inspired career paths.

“I want to give them a taste of the industry. It’s a tough, complicated business,” he admitted. “At the same time, it’s the most beautiful job in the world.”

For Charettier, cooking is about creating connections. Food is at the centre of our community gatherings, family get-togethers, and special occasions, he explained. It’s about how we feel when we’re enjoying a meal together.

When the pandemic hit, Charettier worried about the impact isolation was having on his students, so he created a series of YouTube cooking videos as a way to connect with them and others in these extraordinary times.

“Sharing knowledge is essential for me,” he said.

And the most rewarding part of his profession?

“Seeing the joy on people’s faces around the table.”

Check out this story and others like it in the Fall 2020 issue of Rise, NBCC’s Report to the Community.

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