Job: Founder of Ils en fument du bon and Les bons buveurs
How long have you been a Montrealer?
Since I was 17. I started out in Saint-Bruno. I didn’t really listen in school and I couldn’t wait to go to Montréal and have fun. It wasn’t exciting enough for me on the South Shore!
Talk to us a bit about how you started your business, Ils en fument du bon.
I was lucky enough in my life to meet Ulysses Lamberger who was 75 years old and made every imaginable kind of sausage in his garage. For two and a half years, I went every Monday to learn how to make them. Making sausages became a hobby that I did in my spare time. One day, I was tired of wearing a suit and tie and I wanted to create something that felt more like me. Ils en fument du bon started in the trunk of my car! I took my mentor’s recipes for fresh sausages and I added my own twist. He freaked out because I was putting chunks of smoked meat, truffles and foie gras in my sausages. I promoted these unique products on social media saying, “I’ll be in Montréal if you want to buy some!” That lasted a year. I built Ils en fument du bon on the concept of scarcity.
What is the main factor in the business philosophy of Ils en fument du bon that has led to your success?
What really propels IFB is love. The love for my mentor, Ulysses, who passed away. He was the one who taught me the techniques and recipes and gave me the suppliers. Then there are all my friends who came to help me, not to mention all the people I don’t even know who came to buy my sausages, who met up with me during that crazy phase of selling on street corners, who shared it on social media. Then, of course, my greatest strength has been to surround myself with the amazing team at Ils en fument du bon. Without them, nothing would work.
It’s a cheesy answer, but it’s true!
I think starting Les Bons Buveurs with my partner François Fortier – we specialize in high quality Québec microbrewery beers. This is what I’ve really been enjoying. I am not the biggest beer expert but, for me, going to meet craft beer producers and comparing how crazy our lives are, that has to be the most fun I’ve had this year.
What’s the next big thing you have planned?
The next big project is to open two Ils en fument du bon stores in the next two months. But I can’t say where!
What’s your favourite Montréal memory?
It would be all the big meals with lots to drink at the restaurants of friends who are chefs and people in the restaurant business. I have memories from every corner of Montréal. And sunrises. I wake up very early…and every time I see the sun rise over Montréal, it reminds me of being young and those nights that ended when the sun came up.
That’s a tough question. There’s too much talent in Montréal, chefs who are cooking with seasonal and local products. But for classic food, I would take a visitor to Au Pied de Cochon to see Martin Picard. I would be proud to have them discover Québec cuisine at Au Pied de Cochon.
We don’t have enough time to list all the places I go. But if you want to live the real Québec microbreweries experience, Vices Versa on Saint-Laurent is an institution with a hidden terrace. It’s an oasis in Villeray. That’s where I go.
A “ragout de pattes de cochon” [pigs’ feet stew] at La Binerie. My mother made me this dish every year for my birthday. I could have named 150 other places, but I’d say La Binerie.
What is the perfect way to celebrate the Saint-Jean Baptiste holiday in Montréal for you?
In my opinion, the best way to celebrate Saint-Jean Baptiste like a Quebecer is to go to a park and drink beer … with a few fireworks!
Why did you set up shop in Villeray?
The Jean-Talon Market was always a favourite place for me, so when we had the chance to rent a space there, we jumped on it. The market has become the HQ for Ils en fument du bon. My lab is downstairs and we get all our vegetables at the market. Then I started discovering Villeray, with the store and being here 100 hours a week. At one point, we considered moving, but the employees were sad at the thought of leaving the neighbourhood. This is one of the nicest neighbourhoods in Montréal!
Next, the Sud-ouest [Montréal’s Southwest borough] is an area that I love. It’s been a bit bumpy but that’s part of its charm. I discovered Saint-Henri when I was at hotel school at LaSalle College. The locals are pretty colourful – like me – and that’s why I opened my second store there.
What is the one thing a visitor to Montréal absolutely must do?
If I had to give one piece of advice to a tourist arriving in Montréal, it would be to get out there and try, like, 150 restaurants; talk to servers, cooks, and talk to locals. Montrealers we are proud of what we have to offer. They’ll tell you where to go, their favourite spots and even a few things they probably shouldn’t tell you – they’ll tell you everything!
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