Montreal Weekend Getaway: Summer of Chefs at Balnea Spa

With the summer heat continuing with no end in sight, what better way to escape the city than to spend a day at a stunningly chic spa in the country? And so we did! A short road trip to the Easter Townships, less than an hour away from Montreal, lies Balnea Spa, a breathtaking spa sanctuary located on a private thermal reserve amongst nothing but nature. The pictures hardly do it justice – it’s twice as beautiful in person.

So we arrived, took in the fresh air, jumped in the one of the number of delightful outdoor Jacuzzis and steam rooms, and then it was time to indulge in Balnea’s Summer of Chefs, a gastronomic competition bringing together nine of the leading chefs in Quebec, who created original dishes inspired by Balnea. The dishes will be on the menu at Balnea during the week following and also at the chefs’ restaurants throughout the summer season.

Here’s the notable part: The 10th chef will be elected by the public following a contest on the official website, and if you or someone you know is skilled in the kitchen, tell them to join!

On the day we visited the Summer of Chefs, the spotlight was on Manoir Hovey’s Hatley Restaurant’s Francis Wolf and Roland Menard. Manoir Hovey is a historic and stunning property located on the shores of Lake Massawippi known for its gastronomy and beauty. We asked the two-star chefs a few questions to find out about their entry in the Summer Of Chefs: 

What was the inspiration behind your dishes for this competition?
It is a celebration of the essence of summer. This celebration is enhanced by the setting and natural beauty that both Manoir Hovey and Balnea share. A colourful, light and refreshing summer dish that pays homage to the local farmers and producers who work so hard to bring the flavours of summer to our table.

Is it difficult working with another chef to combine ideas and tastes in creating the chosen dishes?
This dish was actually created by Francis Wolf who is in charge of much of the creation and innovation in the kitchen of Manoir Hovey. Roland and Francis complement one another very well as they are both excellent chefs. Francis’s focus is on the creation of new dishes while Roland’s more on the day-to-day management of the kitchen. Both chefs are hands on and cook on the line at least five nights per week with their team. Roland has been at Manoir Hovey for over 30 years and Francis has just celebrated his 12th year, so there is a great synergy, mutual respect and understanding. 

What would you describe your culinary style as?
A modern cuisine that emphasizes the best Canadian and Quebec products found in our forests, fields and oceans.

Can guests expect the same or similar cuisine and dishes at Manoir Hovey?
Most definitely. Our Chefs, along with their team, have been preparing continuously, changing lunch and dinner menus bursting with freshness and originality. Le Hatley restaurant at Manoir Hovey presides our spectacular lakeside English gardens with views over Lake Massawippi. Guests are captivated by exceptional service and the contemporary Quebec cuisine with its accent on fresh local produce.

And, might we add, their dish was a pure summer delight! To find out more about the Summer of Chefs and the roster of culinary gods coming up, visit their them here.


Images courtesy of: Balnea Spa & Manoir Hovey