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Marc-André Choquette fondly recalls Easter dinners orchestrated by his aunt, and the sense of celebration they inspired among friends and family. It spurred his lifelong interest in food. As a teenager, he scrubbed pots and set tables at a Greek restaurant in Laval. During a hectic Mother’s Day brunch, a line cook went AWOL and Choquette was pressed into service. “I didn’t know what I was doing,” he remembers, but he got hooked on the adrenaline rush. Cooking school followed, and when it came time for an apprenticeship, he didn’t travel far: just down the block from his house was Richard Bastien’s Le Mitoyen. (Choquette recalls Jeremie Bastien (see page 105) as the shy kid who would help out on weekends, shelling beans.)
In the three-and-a-half years that followed, Richard Bastien had an indelible impact on Choquette, teaching him the first notes of multi-course dégustation menus that he would later apply to his virtuosic performance at Lumière. But his next stop was Normandy—at the two-starred Michelin Restaurant Gill he acquired a taste of brigade service and Relais Gourmand standards. This training was key when Choquette arrived as a 23-year-old sous-chef at Lumière, where he oversaw the ambitious dégustation program that turned out hundreds of impeccably composed plates every night.
Unlike the formal, white-tablecloth rooms he trained in, Choquette will focus on refined comfort at Voya. “This is the way people want to dine now,” he says. With some shared dishes (côte de boeuf for four), he aims for elevated communal dining with all the warmth of a family meal.
For now, while Voya’s kitchen is still a welter of construction, with plastic-tarped kitchen equipment being rolled in daily, Choquette spends time at home in his own kitchen, where he grinds homemade chorizo and hangs the finished sausages in his pantry.