I went to meet with Lil Lacassagne, owner and Executive Chef of 4 stars AAA, Saint-Jacques of Burke Manor restaurant open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
Chef Lil welcomed me in the kitchen , offered me a glass of red wine, a St Emilion, and I was able to watch him work, share stories, photograph him in his environment and spend time with him.
The knifes, “The Cul de Poule” ( Stainless bowl), the ingredients, are his magic wand in the kitchen. But if you ask him, the true magic is, the sunshine that comes through the window that opens to his sanctuary.
After 30 years of working in the industry, his pleasure is to have, for the first time, an opening to the outdoor, from “his plan de travail”.
So Lil, on his day off, is doing what he does best, if not what he does at/to perfection: cooking for others.
I was able to witness the passion for his work. I was able to witness his passion and respect for food. I was able to witness the respect and gratitude for where the food come from and last, but not least, I was able to witness the gratitude and humility toward God that is in Lil.
This is how all these years I imagined a Chef to be: Passionate, compassionate, grateful, humble, dedicated, selfless, knowledgeable, giving and sharing his love of cooking with others.
I was given so many stories, history that included the Medici family. I was suddenly bathed with background family stories and learned how much Lil loves his family, how proud he is to have taught his teenage daughter how to cook, how incredibly proud he is of his wife and what an incredible family man God has made him.
Lil was getting ready for a big event and was making a Boeuf Bourguignon. It was being prepared the old fashion French way right there in front of me. I could slowly smell the fresh thyme and the wine marinade that took over the kitchen.
After talking about so many things with Lil, you gather that he has spent so much time overseas including in Africa.
Executive Chef Lillian understands that being a great Chef means to be grateful, and to have respect not just for the ingredients, but for the kitchen itself.