Celebrating Valentine’s Day with a good dinner remains a timeless romantic classic. But why not try the big game by making your own gourmet meal? We entrusted the mission to chef Samuel Sirois, from the Institute of Tourism and Hospitality of Quebec (ITHQ). The challenge: create a wow effect while focusing on simplicity… and why not at a reasonable price!
Samuel Sirois? Isn’t this the leader who led the Canadian team to 11th place last year?e place in the final of the Bocuse d’or, the biggest culinary competition in the world? Who finished second in the Americas selections in Chile in 2022? Isn’t it inconsistent to call on the advice of a great master to concoct a menu whose main objective is to be easy to prepare? Worse, would such an approach risk being insulting to the main party concerned?
This is very poor knowledge of Samuel Sirois. “I love well-prepared things and attention to detail,” admits the chef. I really like high-flying gastronomy, but I’m a relatively simple person in the sense that I love a good, well-made pizza! »
Gastronomy is also a matter of exchange; moreover, a quote from (Paul) Bocuse says that – I am going to paraphrase it rather than quote it – what makes a meal good is thanks to the people you eat with.
Samuel Sirois, chef and professor at ITHQ
Being together above all
The majority of items on the four-course menu designed by Samuel Sirois can be prepared in advance, with complete peace of mind. “I did it on purpose,” he confides. You can even prepare the sauce the weekend before, especially since a sauce prepared in advance is much better because the flavors set. And the goal is also to be able to enjoy the company of our better half. »
Because there’s more to life than beauty, adds the chef. “Too often in my life, I have spent time in the kitchen, leaving my partner, my children or other people at the table while I cooked, without enjoying my evening. So, I try to keep it a little simpler, accessible, so that people have the opportunity to be with their loved ones. »
Thus, only one of the dishes on the menu proposed by Samuel Sirois requires immediate cooking – and even then, the veal striploin can be prepared in no time. For the rest, vinaigrettes, sauces, marinades, mousses, compotes or decorative and finishing elements, almost everything can be prepared in advance. We can attest to this, because he cooked and plated everything in front of us in just over an hour – and he had to prepare everything at the same time for the purposes of the cause, which won’t be the case in your own kitchen.
First have fun
When you prepare your menu in advance, you also have the advantage of being able to make mistakes. “Don’t be afraid to start again, especially since in this case, I could almost have cost the menu because it costs nothing, apart from the veal and scallops,” says Samuel Sirois. Obviously, you shouldn’t waste, but in the end, what I’m trying to say is: don’t be afraid to manipulate, to play with what you have. »
It also allows you to have a little fun with the finishing – Samuel Sirois admitted to us that he decorated some of the dishes with a punch purchased in the DIY section of an artist’s supply store!
Above all, don’t try to copy. Try to go with what you like. Try to add a little volume, play with shapes, have fun not remaining linear; I want it to be shiny, to be pretty when I dress it.
Samuel Sirois, chef and professor at ITHQ
That said, there is no need to put pressure on yourself: “The presentation will undoubtedly be different at your place, but I really want it to be said that I had fun,” Chef Sirois immediately qualifies. In fact, the shapes don’t really matter, because the tastes are going to be there, the recipe won’t change. »
Obviously, it’s the taste that counts above all else. To do this, Chef Sirois favored local foods, but without making it an illness. So, there are citrus fruits in his dishes, “because we are in the middle of citrus season, and I like citrus fruits! “, he said, laughing.
“I purposely chose things that weren’t too fancy for the Valentine’s Day menu, with accessible tastes,” assures Samuel Sirois. I favored local products, as tasty as possible depending on the season, depending on availability. But I have absolutely nothing against frozen food; the blackberries I use were frozen last summer, same thing with the haskapberries. For what ? Because it’s not just about eating local; it’s important, but diversifying is essential. »