Manitoba Club chef Mickaël Cazemayor has been cooking up great-tasting dishes for almost 20 years. We asked him a few questions about his start in the industry, his inspirations, favourite summer ingredients and more.
Can you tell us about your history as a chef?
I started cooking when I was 14 as an apprentice at the George Sand, a three-star hotel restaurant in my hometown of Loches, France. At the age of 16, I did a two-year pastry apprentice. I have loved cooking for as long as I can remember. I just love food. At the age of 21, after getting married to my wonderful wife (born and raised in Manitoba), we moved to Winnipeg just to get a different experience and just fell in love with the city.
I started working at the Manitoba Club in April 2002 and never left that place. I just love it there. The family feel is fantastic and we have a great team of individuals that I just love working with. It’s a pleasure to go to work every day and never feels old. Always something new to learn and improve on. I love it.
Who first taught you how to cook?
My first chef in France was chef Bernard. He was really tough and very challenging to work for, but he was a great teacher and inspired me to keep going and believe in myself.
When did you first fall in love with cooking?
As I mentioned before, I’ve loved cooking for as long as I remember, even though I was a terrible cook as a kid. Glad I stayed with it, as it’s a great career and a really fun job to do.
Can you tell us a bit about the dishes you create at the Manitoba Club?
The Manitoba Club is so different from anywhere else in the city, from the bistro to the dining room to the banquets. All have different feel and inspirations. Our dining room is more traditionally French-oriented with a modern spin, while our bistro is more modern and fun with very different ingredients with more trendy, cool food. The banquet menu is more traditional.
What inspires you in the kitchen?
I work in a kitchen with a lot of different ethnicities. Being in Canada, we are surrounded with so many cultures and inspirations. New ingredients and different seasons keep inspiring me to create something cool and tasty. I couldn’t do it without the help of all the inspiration my coworkers have to share.
What are your favourite local ingredients to work with?
There are so many ingredients to love right here in Manitoba, but I really enjoy bison. The texture and flavour are just great.
What are your favourite summer ingredients to work with?
I absolutely love tomatoes. So many different kinds, and every single one of them have a different texture and flavour. By far my favourite summer ingredient.
Any great local places to find fresh summer ingredients?
Jardins St-Léon Gardens or the St. Nobert Farmer’s Market are my favourite places to get local ingredients. Small and welcoming and just fun places to go to.
Favourite place to eat in Manitoba that isn’t your own? Favourite patio?
My family loves to eat out. My wife and daughter are always ready to try something new and different. We love La Roca – the ambiance and Mexican flavours are great. It’s also our favorite patio. The roof top is just awesome. But we’re always down for a good burger at Nuburger.
Favourite summer drink?
I’m boring when it comes to summer drinks. I really love stout beers (Grandpa’s Sweater from Barn Hammer Brewing being my favourite).
Any tips to keep food healthy while still delicious?
I try to cook with olive oil as much as possible and try to keep everything as lean as possible, but to be honest, nothing will ever beat butter and bacon.
What’s for dinner tonight?
BBQ pork chops and baked beans. We really love family cozy food!