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Bringing Michelin Talent to the Eastern Townships

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A Quebec Relais & Châteaux Resort has built a fairytale dining team

Located just 90 minutes from Montreal, Manoir Hovey is a five-star Relais & Châteaux property on the shores of Lake Massawippi. Arguably one of Canada’s most charming and romantic inns, it has 36 exquisitely appointed rooms and suites, year-round activities, and hosts weddings, conferences and special events. Its award-winning restaurant, Le Hatley, showcases fine regional cuisine and an extensive wine list. Le Hatley overlooks the lake and is surrounded by English gardens. It is a tranquil setting with spectacular views that has attracted many notable guests, including the Clintons.

Today, Manoir Hovey can boast yet another remarkable achievement. Attracting top culinary talent from around the world, Manoir Hovey is leading a chef-driven culinary evolution. The resort has welcomed an astronomical talent roster replete with Michelin experience—a team of 65 that is led by Chef de cuisine Alexandre Vachon.

“I grew up on a farm in Franco-Ontario. Moving to North Hatley and taking over the kitchen of Le Hatley Restaurant at Manoir Hovey has brought me right back to my roots in the countryside. I am thrilled to share my passion for the bountiful produce of this region with our guests, as well as with my two young children. I am surrounded by inspiration every day here. For or a chef, there is nothing more satisfying!” – Alexandre Vachon

The additions to the resort’s team include food and beverage manager Jean-Charles Brakhausen, who has worked with Alain Ducasse at Spoon in Hong Kong; 3-star Michelin chef Arnaud Lallement; 3-star Michelin chef Yannick Alléno; and 2-star Michelin chef Michael Caines.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working in a few different Relais & Châteaux properties around the world, and Manoir Hovey is among the best. I’m very passionate about gastronomy and wine and collaborate closely with our chef Alexandre Vachon and our sommelier Jerome Dubois to create an amazing culinary experience for our guests.” – Jean-Charles Brakhausen

Jerome Dubois, who came to Manoir Hovey in 2018, has been named head sommelier and has worked for 3-star Michelin chef Marc Veyrat.

“Quebec is one of my favorite regions, and I’ve been living here since 2016. I’m thrilled to be able to share two of my passions, sommellerie and apiculture (beekeeping) with our guests and culinary team. I feel right at home in the Eastern Townships and at Manoir Hovey. It’s a dream come true.” – Jerome Dubois

New assistant sommelier Reynald Belkacem was formerly at Joel Robuchon’s Hotel Metropole in Monaco. The rest of the team brings extensive experience with some of the most celebrated chefs and restaurants in the world, including Jean-Georges, Guy Savoy, Fréderic Anton and Mathieu Viannay.

Chef de cuisine Alexandre Vachon joined Manoir Hovey in 2018 from Maison Boulud at The Ritz-Carlton, Montreal. His approachable, refined cuisine has transformed the dining experience at the hotel’s two restaurants with modern, diverse dishes that showcase regional ingredients. “The influx of such culinary talent to Manoir Hovey is very exciting,” said managing director Jason Stafford. “My family is proud to call North Hatley home, and it’s especially gratifying that these talented professionals from around the world are choosing to come and work here, a town with a population of only 750, instead of the city. It’s a testament to the culture of hospitality we’ve created at the hotel and the region as a whole, and we look forward to creating delicious journeys for our guests.”

Manoir Hovey was built in 1900 and marked its 40th anniversary under the ownership of the Stafford family this year. A new-state-of-the-art kitchen was recently completed as part of a series of planned upgrades to the property.

The Eastern Townships, dotted with charming small towns, are within a few hours’ drive from Montreal and Quebec City. With their beautiful scenery, year-round outdoor activities, and a thriving food and wine scene, Manoir Hovey has built a captivating story around itself that attracts visitors and great culinary talent from around the world to this idyllic region of Quebec.

Q&A with Jason Stafford

Managing director of Manoir Hovey

How did Manoir Hovey attract Michelin-starred talents to a small town of 750?

Although North Hatley has a small population, we’re very close to Sherbrooke and Magog, two larger towns, and we’re not too far from Montreal. Manoir Hovey is a world-class Relais & Châteaux luxury resort and restaurant, so it has not been difficult to attract top Michelin-starred talent here.

We’re situated in a unique area in the southernmost part of Quebec, where both the French and English languages co-exist harmoniously. We have a vast array of farms, wineries and other producers here that provide our culinary teams with the highest quality regional ingredients. The quality of life and robust economy in the Eastern Townships are second to none, and we’re seeing more top culinary talent choosing the area as a place to settle down long term. Housing is affordable, there are excellent French and English schools, great medical care, as well as access to nature and recreation in every season.

Manoir Hovey is clearly a special place. Please speak to the vitality of culinary programs while attracting global chefs to the table.

As a member of Relais & Châteaux, Manoir Hovey is part of a global family of 600 properties in over 60 countries with some of the world’s best chefs and hospitality professionals. The association has a commitment to working together to promote and move these professionals from one country or property to another as they develop their respective careers. In the 40 years that my family has owned Manoir Hovey, we’ve had the pleasure of welcoming top hospitality talent from all over the world. Some of the young professionals we’ve worked with early in their careers have gone on to become some of the most well-known chefs in the world. The key is remaining engaged with the global community of hospitality professionals and maintaining a good network, which is what we do.

How has hospitality changed?

Here at Manoir Hovey, the most significant change has been the evolution of our two restaurants and the separate identities they’ve established independently of the hotel. Fifteen years ago, the restaurants existed under the bigger banner of Manoir Hovey as a luxury hotel, and guests got a rate that included an overnight stay, dinner and breakfast. Now, each of the two restaurants, Le Hatley and Le Tap Room Bistro, has its own distinct identity. Guests look at the accommodations as one element of their stay, and then they’ll branch out to include their restaurant options. Most come for the hotel and gastronomic experience at Le Hatley, while others choose a stay and a more casual bistro experience at Le Tap Room. We’ve also seen an increase in the local residents who come to dine at both restaurants.

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