Jean-François Archambault was surrounded by a love and respect food from a young age. He says that after school, while most kids would hurry home to enjoy playing outside, he would hurry home to see what his mother was cooking in the kitchen.
His father was a legal advisor for La Société des Chefs Cuisiniers et Pâtissiers du Québec and fostered Archambault’s love for eating good food by inviting him along to his gourmet dinner club. While Archambault couldn’t partake in the wine, he fondly remembers that he was more interested in what was being served on the plates (rather than in the glasses).
However, it was not only a love for eating that was instilled in Archambault as a child, but a deep appreciation for how food is produced and grown. Archambault learned firsthand how vegetables grew in his family’s garden. This understanding of the work that goes into producing fresh fruits and vegetables, followed Archambault into his professional career and inspired his movement – La Tablée des Chefs.
La Tablée des Chefs acts as a liaison between donors of food surpluses and the various organizations that will ensure the recovery of the donation and its distribution to beneficiaries in need.
“We are thus mobilizing chefs, cooks, and pastry chefs in the hotel, restaurant and institutional sectors to manage their food surpluses while respecting the culinary vocation, and promoting social inclusion and respect for human dignity,” says Archambault. “In 2018, in Canada, more than 670,000 servings of food were redistributed to food insecure individuals and families through our food recovery program.” (1)
By looking strategically at major institutions like chains of hotels, hospitals, or conference centres, Archambault sees potential to send a message from the top down and set an example for the entire foodservice industry.
Looking to the future, Archambault is thinking about how he can impact the next generation through education. One of the education pieces Archambault has concentrated on this year is Kitchen Brigades.
The program places young people from Quebec high schools (12-17 years old) at the centre of the action, making them aware of the joy of cooking and creating a certain excitement in the school environment around food and healthy lifestyles. (2)
For the 2018-2019 school year, the Kitchen Brigades program is offered in 125 high schools to nearly 3,000 young people, mainly as extracurricular activities. Though the program is centered in Quebec, it’s seeing expansion outside of the province in the rest of Canada.
For his work and efforts in creating a more sustainable future for the foodservice industry, Archambault garnered the prestigious RC Leadership Award, presented at RC Show 2019.
The award is bestowed upon an individual who made an outstanding and pioneering contribution to Canada’s restaurant and foodservice industry and had a positive and measurable impact in their community.