There’s no question about it: Chef Chuck Hughes is passionate about food. It’s easy to see just how passionate when you witness him hosting his shows on the Food Network and the Cooking Channel, or winning big on Iron Chef America. Born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, he continues a legacy of world-class dining with two restaurants in his native city. Garde Manger and Le Bremner are both located in the picturesque Montreal Old Port and present hip, unpretentious haute cuisine that is uniquely Chef Hughes.
Chef, restaurateur, television host, cookbook author: he’s definitely a busy guy. However, we were lucky enough to sit him down long enough to answer a few questions, as well as pick his favorite BTR products, which can be found here.
1) How has it felt going from a local Montreal celebrity to a world-renowned Food Network super star? How do you stay so down to Earth?
I don’t know if I would say Food Network super star. I’m just a regular guy who has had things work out. I feel really fortunate to have had the chance to do what I do. As far as staying grounded – working with food keeps me humble. A carrot doesn’t care who you are.
2) How do you manage to balance your time? Writing a book, owning two restaurants, travelling, appearing on TV…it almost seems impossible for just one person!
Yeah, I’m crazy busy but at certain times of the year I’m able to take some time off. I also to try to regularly squeeze in some time for myself – it may be playing a late night hockey game on Monday night or shopping early Sat morning at the market, whatever I can fit in. Though I’m lucky, I love what I do and I find when you love what you do it’s pretty easy to get up and get going every morning.
3) What inspires you to create new meal ideas?
Travelling is a big inspiration for me. I was recently in Italy and that was amazing. The TV series Chuck’s Eat The Street has me travelling all over the U.S. meeting other chefs and food producers so I’m often being introduced to different techniques or new food ideas. I also do a lot of reading and of course tasting new things.
4) With today’s busy lifestyles, we’re all pressed for time. What are your best tips/short cuts in the kitchen?
Cooking gets this rap that to do it well it has to be complicated and takes time. I disagree. I don’t believe in short cuts, it’s more about being prepared. If you prepare and clean as you go along, cooking a terrific meal doesn’t take much time. Some tips? Set yourself up like a professional kitchen by getting your mise en place done – that way you can cook like a professional chef. You can also sear meats and make a sauce in the same pan – it’s fast and easy.
5) We know you are catering the Osheaga Music Festival this year. What are you making? How do you organize everything so that all the food comes out fresh and hot? And who are you most looking forward to seeing at the festival?
For the last couple of years we have catered the VIP backstage area of Osheaga. It’s an incredibly intense full-on three days. We have an amazing team of 45 cooks that make it happen. The dishes we offer often focus on all the food products that Montreal and Quebec are known for as well we have the best BBQ of the year! When it comes to actually watching the bands we don’t really have the time, as we are too busy feeding them. But I will try to sneak away and catch Portugal. The Man if I can.
6) Can you share one of your favorite (easy!) recipes with us?
Can’t get enough Hughes? The third season of Chuck’s Eat the Street premieres on July 10th at 10pm on the Cooking Channel in the U.S.