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After graduating from culinary school in Montreal, Marc-André Choquette staged in Normandy at the two-Michelin-starred Restaurant Gill, where he acquired a taste of brigade service and Relais Gourmand standards. Then he shipped out West and bounced around Vancouver’s top restaurants, spending time as a young sous chef at Lumière under Rob Feenie and at West under David Hawksworth before being headhunted to run the restaurant at the Loden Hotel. At Tableau, his menu relies on French bistro classics and fresh, local ingredients, which means that in summer Choquette cooks with buoyant herbs like basil, sourced from nearby farms.
Where to buy
Choquette gets his basil from Sapo Bravo, an organic farm in Lytton, B.C. (find them at Trout Lake Farmer’s Market), where the hot, dry weather produces leaves that are rich in flavourful oil. “When they bring us bunches in early July, it’s always the best–hearty, sturdy, and very fragrant, with vibrant green leaves that stay very crisp in the fridge for almost a week.”
How to use it
Feeling adventurous? Pair basil with sun-ripened peaches for a special cocktail, salad, or dessert, or stick to the classics like chef Choquette: “For summer we’ll do a fresh heirloom-tomato salad with basil, or a pistou . We do a flatbread with basil on it, and a gnocchi with mushrooms, tomato, and basil cream sauce. Basil has such a soft but fragrant flavour; it’s not too strong, but it adds defining character to simple dishes.”
Try it at home!
Watch a video of Chef Marc-André Choquette preparing a summer basil, fennel and potato soup.