by Alexandra Forbes
BALNEA, run by girl-about-town Stéphanie Émond and her hubby Denis Laframboise, is a super cool spa near Montreal where people go to spend a whole day dipping into pools and jacuzzis set at different temperatures, alternating that with a bit of sweating in the wet and dry saunas, and plain'ol lounging and admiring the stunning views. They also offer a long list of massages and other well-being treatments.
Recently, they've added what's called a "beach club": a whole set-up by the lake's edge, with a DJ, even:
Every time I've been there, the crowd's been almost as cool-looking as the couple itself, and the vibe is absolutely magical: the baths face a pristine privately-owned lake and everything is perfectly manicured and looked after.
Now Stephanie has come up with another cool idea, which she dubbed “The Summer of Chefs", or "L'Éte des Chefs". Some of Montreal's better-known chefs will take turn cooking, one week each, until early September.
|Stéphanie Emond at the launch of the Éte des Chefs with food writer Jean-Phillipe Tastet|
The chefs have been challenged to a competition of sorts, where the best-selling dish will crown its creator as the winner.
I was there for the launch of the event and got to try the dishes. The two stars of the lineup - Marc André Jetté of Les 400 Coups and Laurent Godbout of Chez L'Epicier, were M.I.A., so, in their absence, I'd have to say that the clear winners were the very fresh seafood salad by Audrey Dufresne of Trois Petits Bouchons (pictured below) and the chickpeas marinated in Xérez by Alonso Ortiz of Pintxo.
There was a pretty and tasty (though a bit ordinary) rice-paper roll at the Mikado booth, and sous-vide salmon on a disk of potato served with great fanfare by Godbout's assistant (a bit déjà vu, maybe?).
And Éric Gonzalez definitely needs to work on his pea with strawberry foam idea.... not so good. In any case, the so-called "chefs' competition" is more of an excuse to gather people around food and drink - never a bad idea, considering the spectacular scenery....
Here's the full schedule:
Martin Juneau (ex-La Montée de Lait) and Daren Bergeron – Newtown
July 3 - 9
(Daren Bergeron is chef-owner of Decca77 and executive-chef at Newtown).
Alonso Ortiz – Pintxo
July 10 to 16
This chef spent 5 years in the Basque country, Spain, where he worked for some time at Arzak restaurant.
Danny St-Pierre – Auguste (Sherbrooke)
July 17 to 23
This chef used to live and work in Montreal (Toqué!, Laloux) before opening his own restaurant in Sherbrooke, in the Eastern Townships
|Chef Audrez Dufresne and her partner at Trois Petits Bouchons|
restaurant, serving their seafood salad
Audrey Dufresne – Trois Petits Bouchons
July 24 - 30
Marc-André Lavergne – Accords
July 31- August 6
Laurent Godbout – Chez l’Épicier
July 7 - 13
Éric Gonzalez – Auberge St-Gabriel
August 14 - 20
(ex-Cube at the Hôtel St-Paul, ex-XO Le Restaurant at the Hôtel St-James)
Kimio Nguyen – Mikado
This Korean chef owns three Mikados (avenue Laurier, Monkland Avenue, rue St-Denis).
Marc-André Jetté – Les 400 coups
August 28 - September 3
Simon Laborde – Vallier
September 4 - 10
Photo Credits: BALNEA/Bicom
BALNEA's offical website
More on BALNEA on this blog