Mushrooms, mushrooms, mushrooms. Two large paper grocery bags full of every kind of button-top fungus you could imagine. Head chef Jean-Claude Chartrand at L’Orée du Bois is honoured with the tall task of preparing a delicious four-course meal out of these mushrooms for the annual Mycologue Amateurs de l’Outaouais forraging group dinner. The spring kick-off party has been at the Chelsea restaurant for 14 years now and every time the kitchen makes up something new and creative with last year’s mushroom haul. “We have to transform them,” explained Chartrand’s second in command Nicolas Boily who said they never know what kinds of mushrooms they get until the bags arrive.
Due to a death in the family, the second leg of the group of 66 mushroom lovers was managed in the kitchen by Boily instead of Chartrand who was away. But the head chef left the kitchen in worthy hands; Boily has been working at the French-cuisine chef’s side for three years and hopes to one day to inherit the head chef’s apron. “He’s got good taste buds and he knows how to please people,” said Boily of his mentor.
The Friday night group started arriving around 6:00 p.m. and the energy in the kitchen was relaxed as the kitchen rolled into prep mode. Olivier Wera Duguay was prepping one of L’Orée du Bois’ most popular accruements by shoving duck fat through the industrial-sized shredder, while salad and dessert cook Zachary Perron was getting his side of the kitchen ready.