The Canadian chef and inn proprietor on his go-to kitchen tool, most memorable meal, favourite hobbies and more.
Owner and chef of a multi-award-winning inn, Benjamin Leblanc-Beaudoin’s roots run deep in the hospitality world. His journey began more than 15-years ago when he took a job working at the front desk of a hotel. It was there that he fell in love with hospitality and cuisine, inspiring him to attend culinary school.
Trained in classic French cuisine, Benjamin has worked at Michelin star restaurants in Paris and Switzerland as well as famed restaurants in Ottawa and Toronto. He has taken his learnings from each of these restaurants to establish his successful inn, the Iron Kettle Bed and Breakfast, in Comber, Ontario.
We chatted with Benjamin to learn all about life as a chef and officially introduce him as a Butterball spokesperson.
When did you first discover your love for cooking?
I discovered my love of cooking when I moved out of my parent’s home to go to school. Having grown up in a very healthy-eating household, I was eager to eat as much junk food as possible. After 3 weeks of it, I gave up and started cooking for myself. Years later I realized that my parents had it right all along.
What is the first dish you learned to master?
The first dish I ever learned to master was Rice Pilaf. Long grain rice, vegetables, water and butter. I loved the smell of the onions cooking in butter and have been making it ever since.
What is your favourite ingredient to cook with (other than turkey) and why?
My favourite ingredient to cook with (other than turkey) is butter. There is no substitute for it. Butter adds flavour, texture, and creaminess to every dish. Cooking without butter for me is like cooking without passion.
What is one kitchen tool you can’t live without?
There are so many kitchen tools available and new ones keep being invented. The one kitchen tool I can’t live without is a wooden spoon. You can buy the most expensive one or the cheapest one, it always serves its purpose.
What is one of the most memorable meals you’ve ever had?
Food memories are huge for me. One of the most memorable meals I’ve had was flash-fried seafood, caught off the coast in Cinque Terre, Italy. There is no substitute for this freshness – I would go back to that same town just to eat this very thing.
What’s your favourite part of being an inn proprietor?
My favourite part of being an inn proprietor is the guest interactions I get to have daily. There are people from all over the world that stay with us. People always leave with a smile and that is an amazing feeling.
Sweet or savoury?
If the question is sweet or savoury, my answer is always savoury – 10 times out of 10.
What is your favourite meal to cook at home?
At home, I love cooking simple foods that nourish and can last more than one meal. My pet peeve is preparing a meal for 4 hours, just to eat it in 15 minutes. Simple is best. For that reason, I love making pizza and to use up leftovers to clean out the fridge on it.
If you didn’t become a chef, which profession would you have chosen?
If I didn’t become a chef, I would still be working in the travel and tourism industry. I loved my first front desk job and I would still do it today. As a matter of fact, I actually do (to a certain degree at the B&B).
What is your favourite thing to do outside of the kitchen?
My favourite thing to do outside of the kitchen is travel with my family. Whether it’s a day trip or an actual vacation, I love travelling and exploring. My travels always revolve around food, markets and new experiences to stay inspired. Food is my life and my passion.