Blade For Hire

Having been brought up in a traditional French family,  I had food culture bred into my bones. As a kid, one of my favorite things was to accompany my mom on her food journeys in our hometown. We would visit local artisans and enjoy not only the beautiful displays of produce, cheese, charcuterie, hanging furry rabbits or wild boars, but also the interaction between people: shop owners recognizing each client, knowing their likes and dislikes and recommending delicious new products; customers chit-chatting about their families or exciting happenings in the neighborhood. I remember thinking that my quartier was just a big giant family. That was my first exposure to community.

To this day I strive to acknowledge and teach the importance of human relations, the benefits of learning from people’s differences, their stories, cultures and beliefs. Listening, watching and learning; conversing with friends, clients and neighbors; spending time with my morning barista while waiting for my caffeine fix — I try to do it all. I try to always stay aware of the significance of my community and the influence that it has on my everyday life, at home or at work.

I’ve managed to create a little niche for myself in my industry that allows me to do what I love, which is cooking, all the while growing within my community. After owning a restaurant for five years, I took a break to reflect on what I had accomplished and where I wanted to go next. During that time, my phone kept ringing. Friends, chefs, clients, people were constantly asking me to cook, whether to fill in on the line for a sick employee, cater a wedding or help open a new restaurant. I was amazed at how the community kept me busy doing what I love. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to take a different approach and start an eclectic form of food venture. My slogan is “Blade for Hire.” I’ll jump into any situation and make it happen. From catering in clients’ homes and interacting with their guests, to training pastry teams in various restaurants, to throwing together fun and unique events with my chef collective, I get to be a part of the community, to take from it but also give back. I’m very lucky. This direction allows me to meet new people all the time, to travel, brainstorm, learn, educate and collaborate.

I am a strong believer in karma and that you get back what you give. Karma is what community is about. It is a big family. Take care of it and it will take care of you. Two voices, three opinions, four approaches are better than one. Diversity is strength. If you join forces, you can make anything happen. In the mean time, take Ruth Reichl’s words to heart: “Pull up a chair, take a taste. Come join us. Life is so
endlessly delicious.”

Bertrand Alépée
Guest Food Editor

Bertrand Alépée is a Parisian-born chef and founder of The Tempered Chef Ltd., a culinary company that provides a variety of cooking services, including catering, freelancing, teaching and restaurant consulting. Before starting this venture, he studied under French culinary icons Guy Savoy and Alain Ducasse, worked in the kitchens of several Relais & Châteaux locations across France and moved to Canada to work at the Inn at Manitou in Georgian Bay. He would eventually find himself in Toronto working under Marc Thuet at Centro Grill and Wine Bar before opening his own establishment, Amuse-Bouche Restaurant.

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