Chef Jinhee Lee
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As Chef-Owner of Montreal-based restaurants including Barroco, Bocata, Foiegwa and Fugazzi, the COVID-19 pandemic and city-based closures and restrictions left #ForChefsByChefs Feature Chef Jeremie Falissard with a lot of tough decisions to make about his establishments and their food offerings.
When we last spoke to Chef Falissard early in 2020, one message about working through the pandemic that truly resonated with Club House for Chefs and our chef community was the following:
“This is a time to be creative. Now, most chefs have the time they always wished they’d had to step back, research, study, create and adapt. Stay strong and focused through this because it might bring the best in us. Our goal is to give people an amazing experience in hospitality and this time should be a time to inspire ourselves.”
Now in the spring of 2021, we caught up with Falissard and have learned that the same quote still rings true in his own processes and recent experiences as he delegates change, creativity, patience and even expansion among his multiple establishments.
“With my other restaurants [temporarily] closed, we had originally decided to put our energy more into Fugazzi because the pizza was a no-brainer for takeout. We tried to bring items from Foiegwa but Fugazzi on its own was working super well.”
While Falissard had been happy to keep some of his Foiegwa dishes alive with the brick and mortar location temporarily shut, he soon figured out that perhaps Fugazzi would be far better off with only its own dishes and identity in play.
“Serving dishes from Foiegwa eventually didn’t make sense; there was too much going on and we didn’t want people to get confused so we said let’s just concentrate on the pizza. We did eventually bring previous best-sellers back to Fugazzi like the meatball, the garlic bread and the cabbage Caesar salad.”
Seeing simplified success serving Fugazzi goods for takeout and delivery, Falissard had a model that was easy to duplicate, which led to the opening of a second location in January 2021: Fugazzi Presto.
“We studied areas in Montreal that made sense, areas that would go well with using UberEats and DoorDash. We then opened on Boul St-Laurent, which is the main street in Montreal, in the Mile End area. Surrounded by young professionals, we’re doing even better there than the first one ¾ it’s mission accomplished.”
Keeping the pizza dough rolling through the city, Falissard is currently looking to open three more Fugazzi locations, even if the pandemic continues well into the year, but hasn’t given up on the prospect of reopening his more fine dining establishments, especially Barroco.
“There’s a special energy at Barroco people really want to see again. It’s fine dining and a cozy atmosphere among stone walls in Old Montreal; the type of place you really want to be in. People are waiting for that moment.”
Falissard also owns two speakeasies, Atwater Cocktail Club and Milky Way Cocktail Bar, which he believes will be incredibly busy once restrictions are lifted.
“My cocktail bars are going to be on fire when we get back on track. I, like many others, can’t wait to go to a nice bar, have a cocktail and enjoy some shots with friends, just have that social life back.”
In the meantime, Falissard continues to spend more time out of the kitchen scouting locations, upkeeping constant contact with suppliers to pass best prices down to customers and creating new dishes at home like creative fresh ravioli.
“I’m making all kinds right now. I did one with stuffed snow crab, and then one before that with ricotta and taleggio cheese. I’m working with the ravioli dough, which contains more eggs, has a whole different texture and I’m having a lot of fun with it.”
Let’s Flavour Together.
Add innovative offerings to your menu like Chef Jeremie Falissard by finding inspiration in our many recipes.
• For Chefs by Chefs: Series Two
• 10 Things You Didnt Know About Chef Jeremie Falissard
• Culinary Connections