The Kilted Chef
Alain Bosse is no stranger to Atlantic Canadians; the good-natured gourmand carries his culinary expertise and warm smile with him wherever he sets up shop. Recently, Celtic Life International spoke with ‘The Kilted Chef’ about his passion and profession.
What is your own heritage?
I grew up in the Northern region of New Brunswick in the city of Edmundston. Edmundston is very close to the boarder of Quebec so we are predominantly French with Acadian influences also playing a major part in my upbringing. My family on my father’s side was Italian and that amazing culture and food was also part of my childhood.
What inspired you to study the culinary arts?
When I was younger I joined the Boy Scouts, I wasn’t as athletic as the other kids so I would often stay behind and help the leaders prepare the food. We learned about survival cooking using only a hanger and tinfoil and I got to be very good at it. Soon it was my role to teach the skills to younger scouts. That’s when I fell in love with cooking. I think it was a combination of three things, my love of food, my love of teaching people new things, and perhaps I have a bit of love for the spotlight!
Are they the same reasons you do it today?
Absolutely! Especially the teaching aspect, today a large part of my career is based on teaching up and coming chefs in conjunction with the Cordon Bleu schools. We go in and teach them about the amazing seafood we have here in Atlantic Canada, I don’t think they realize that being there with them, seeing their enthusiasm and love for the craft rejuvenates me and it turn re-inspires me.
Is your creative process more ‘inspirational’ or ‘perspirational’?
I think it’s a bit of both. I am inspired by so many of the amazing things that I see on my travels, I keep mementos of them all around my office, oh yes, the office, that’s where the perspiration comes in! As much as I would love to say that this job is all about going to fabulous countries, eating great food, and meeting wonderful people, there is at the end of the day a desk, it’s where I dream up new recipes, create new ways to deliver them, think up new ideas, and wait for the next big adventure to come along.
What have been some career highlights?
There have been many, I have been so fortunate with my career. I had a chance to work in Jamie Oliver’s restaurant Fifteen and that was a once in a lifetime event. I’ve cooked alongside a two star Michelin chef at his restaurant in La Rochelle, France and worked with amazing chefs from all over the world with the Right Some Good Festival in Cape Breton, but my favorite highlight was being adopted by the elementary school in Tatamagouche N.S. They have an amazing living garden program and each October when the bounty is harvested I get to go in and spend a day with the kids, we cook together, we talk about food, where it comes from, and what to do with it, when I leave that school I truly feel blessed that I get to do what I do.
Is there such a thing as ‘Atlantic Canadian Cuisine’?
Oh for sure, there is no doubt that when you think Atlantic Canada you think seafood and for just reasons, there is no doubt we produce some of the best in the world but I think Atlantic Canadian Cuisine is less about what we serve and more about how we serve it.
If so, how might you define it?
Atlantic Canadian cuisine is simple, it’s honest and pure, we farm, fish, and harvest with integrity. We were ecologically friendly before being ecologically friendly was cool. We nurtured the land and sea not because we believed in the cause but because we believed that doing the responsible thing was always the right thing to do and all of that shows through in our food. The reason our lobster is so good is because it comes from water that is still cold and clean, our beef grows in a field not in a feed lot.
How has the food industry here changed over the years?
We’ve seen such a diversion in our cooking and with the ingredients we cook with. We have so many wonderful ethnicities in this area and they have all contributed to our cuisine. When we refer to the “melting pot” it could well be in reference to our food. Our farm markets are the perfect example, your hard pressed to find a market that doesn’t have the amazing smell of samosas wafting over it! Samosas are becoming synonymous with the Farmers Market in Atlantic Canada! As far as style of cooking I think we’ve stayed more true to our roots than some other places. We’ve seen all kinds of trends and fads come and go but here we’ve always recognized that good, honest food prepared in simple ways always tastes best at the end of the day. The rest of the industry is making the turn back towards comfort food whereas we’ve never left.
Why the kilt?
When I began to venture out on my own I wanted to create a brand that people would remember and it has worked very well for me, more people know me as the kilted chef than know me as Alain and I’m ok with that. At first I was a bit self-conscious about wearing it, I didn’t even know if it was politically correct, and with a name like Alain Bosse you’re not fooling anyone into thinking your Scottish, but the response has been very positive. And as a bonus it’s really comfortable to work in!