Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Confessional | Stelio Perombelon


Stelio Perombelon, Montreal | He’s been at the helm of some of Montreal’s most delectable kitchens. These days, you’ll find him at his recently opened restaurant, Les Cons Servent. This Chef who also happens to be a music aficionado & a media darling, knows how to tease, challenge and satisfy pallets. If you consider Food to be a Religion than Stelio just might be your Spiritual Leader. Lucky for you, he will now see you in The Confessional.

What will be harder? Answering this Questionnaire or picking your Menu du Jour? The creative process is a very complex thing to describe. It works on different levels; sometimes you can be influenced by trends but the most interesting thing for me is that I'm also influenced by music and visual arts. In these times when cookbook and cooking shows show a lot, you have to submit yourself to a lot of gymnastics to please a customer. You have to give something often new, personal and cheap. Changing the menu is a lot more complicated than we think these days.

TV Land is inundated with Chefs and cooking shows. If you were to be approached to have your own show, what would it be called? Keep It Simple! I'd show how to make the most of a product instead of combining 20 things on a plate. For example, grilled fish with marinated Swiss chard stems and wilted chard leaves. You can do so much with so little. Sometimes just bread, butter, onions, garlic, salt.

There has been, much to my chagrin, an American backlash on Foie Gras. What’s your take on this boycott? It WAS very sad for Chicago but the law has just been abolished last week. I personally went to Chicago during that time and some fellow chefs were very sad about the situation. On the other hand, Chef Charlie Trotter of Charlie Trotter's restaurant has banished foie gras from his menu for almost ten years because he does not agree with the way foie gras is raised. There is the whole environment aspect involved in cooking now. It makes us reconsider the products we are using and the way they are raised or packaged. I guess i could say that this is another influence in my cooking.

You are cooking the last supper for Jesus and the Apostles. What’s on the menu? I'd start with fish…let's see. Maybe Loup de Mer..grilled, with marinated tomatoes, onions, parsley, some great oilve oil. Then, whole roasted lamb on the wood fire with sautéed greens and lemon confit. I'd put lentils somewhere. Oh yeah! A lot of wine...Madiran. By the magnum. For dessert, poached peaches with almonds and vanilla ice cream.

In my view, Chefs are Artists. What has been your Mona Lisa? I've always thought that if you have a signature dish, you are telling people that you can evolve more than this. That the highlight of your carreer will still be this plate in 20 years. I don't think people have decided on a signature dish for me( you can never call a signature dish yourself. The customers do it), but i was very proud of a plated of savory crêpes a few years ago( while at Les Chèvres). It was mounted on chanterelle mushrooms and black trumpets and truffles. We would put a few roasted asparagus on top and people would go crazy over it. We has a hard time taking it off the menu. These days, I am very proud of a simple soaked brioched called BABA. it is serve with a rhubarb compote and some chantilly. It is very simple but so hard to deliver; the brioche requires some serious bread technique knowledge, the rhubarb compote is hard to do if you don't want to end up with some fruit purée, Chantilly…not too sweet, just whipped enough, just enough fresh vanilla.

What’s the soundtrack to the perfect meal? Ballads by John Coltrane.

McDonald’s has had to upgrade its menu with time: adding such items as salads, wraps and Angus burgers. If Ronald McDonald were to approach you to add a new item to the menu, what would it be? I just want the regular stuff.

What food item is most in need of a new PR campaign? Rabbit. It is lean and Quebec-produced.

What meal never fails to impress a girl? I've been told my gnocchi never fails.

Name five dinner guests (dead or alive) you would like to have sitting around a decadent meal. My mom (deceased), my dad, my daughter, her mother.

Since eating is the most fun one can have with their clothes on, tell me what is foreplay? And what is climax? Foreplay: oysters and champagne. Climax: great cheese, a very well braised lamb shank, moist roasted fish. So many things come to my mind.

Every year, Wolfgang Puck cooks the Oscar dinner at the Governor’s Ball which he’s said is the highlight of his career. What would be your ultimate gig? It is not so much a gig than a dream thing. I would like to cook for French Chef Michel Guérard. He has been such a big influence on me without even knowing me.

On a deserted Island, what do you bring? My cd's. La Vie Devant Soi by Romain Gary (Blogger’s note: The book was translated as “Momo” in 1975 and then as “The Life Before Us” in 1986), a non-stick pan.

What’s on heavy rotation on your i-Pod? I've been going mad over Chris Potter's underground band live and Carla Bley and the Lost Chord find Paolo Fresu. Paolo fresu( italian trumpet player) has such an unique sound on this cd.

What is the perfect Stelio outfit? Jeans and t-shirts with my city shoes but i really enjoy being in a suit.

You’re given the post of Secretary General at the United Nations. What do you fix first? Cafeteria food. Alot has already been said on that but...

Name the Artist/Celebrity that should be on a media blackout immediately. We should really think about letting Britney go. She'll be back when she's able. Medias are doing so much damage to her carrer. She's talented and was very dedicated. Now she needs some rest and some calm.

When will I see you next? Several things will be happening in the fall; I'll be cooking at LA Vittoria (the money really goes to the people it is meant to). I will be cooking with some fellow chefs for the annual Montreal Passion-Vin. I will be giving cooking classes at Les Touilleurs in Outremont.

Les Cons Servent Restaurant: www.lesconsservent.com

Photo by : Samuel Archambault

2 comments:

gourmande said...

Cute and he cooks? Jackpot.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, There goes my diet.

Ciao and thank God for shoes (sigh).