Michel Lachaume creator of exclusive fruits and vegetables for chefs
“My job is to make chefs happy”, outlines Michel Lachaume, hybridizer of varieties of fruits and vegetables. A virtual expert in the matter, he collaborates with renowned chefs from Québec, of which many originally come from other regions around the world. When these chefs visit their country, they bring the seeds of rare fruits and vegetables back to the noteworthy farmer for him to grow in his field, Jardin des Saveurs, where an entire hectare is dedicated to trials and research. Thus, he produces specific varieties according to the chefs demands, who hold the privilege of having a piece of the experimental garden reserved for their needs. Attributing a particular importance to flavour, Michel Lachaume relies on fine palettes of these chefs to select the most succulent varieties to be grown. Where, last year, the chef’s farmer planted 500 varieties, he is content with only planting 200 this year. “I am sowing less because I’ve been able to identify the varieties that really please the chefs. So, I have eliminated the rest”, he states. These exclusive fruits and vegetables are not only destined for the chefs, but also for Hector Larivée, the only distributor to offer them.
MEMBER OF A WORLDWIDE NETWORK OF HYBRIDIZERS
Constantly in search of special varieties, Michel Lachaume has the chance of being a part of a worldwide network of hybridizers with whom he shares seeds in order to create varieties that do not already exist on the Québec market. These new varieties are the result of crossbreeding different strains that must then be multiplied and stabilized for eight years before being commercialized. For these last two steps, he often calls on friends to employ their expertise in the field abroad to be able to contribute to the reproduction of products that are hard to grow in Québec, notably for reasons pertaining to climate. The possibilities of crossbreeding are endless, and this independant hybridizer, known at an international level, has already engineered 800 varieties of melons before selecting a final product that is currently in production on the fields of a colleague in Minnesota.
LES ARTISANS DES SAVEURS
Québec farms also help Michel Lachaume grow unique varieties according to his own protocol, that of the “Artisans des Saveurs”. This strict protocol applies methods of natural cultivation that allow for, notably, an increase in nutritional quality of the food, their sugar levels and their mineral content. No pesticides or fertilizers are used. “In addition to obtaining superior harvests, this protocol allows us to produce fruits and vegetables that are tastier and much better for our health”, highlights Lachaume, whose fields are located in Sainte-Madeleine in Montérégie. Favoring the proliferation of ancestral seeds, this nature lover unearths fine treasures from gene pools. By testing these varieties protected by science, he is capable of developing their resistance to disease and ensuring their survival. It is long-winded work that he has been practicing for the past 30 years, always with the same amount of passion.
SOME EXAMPLES OF VARIETIES SET IN PLACE AT JARDIN DES SAVEURS
La penca de chaves (traditional Portuguese cabbage), whose stem is as tender as that of bok choy, is grown for the chef of Ferreira, João Diaz.
Aji amarillo (national pepper of Peru), that a Peruvian chef (a friend of Marcel Larrea, the chef of Tiradito), had delivered to Michel Lachaume, directly from Peru, will be produced for a group of South American restaurateurs established in Québec. The expected quantity? Close to two tons!
Riccardo Bertolino, chef of Maison Boulud in Montréal, discovered the carolfiore di Jesi (Jesi cauliflower) during a trip to the north of Italy. Upon his return to Québec, he wanted to be able to find and use it, and it is Michel Lachaume that succeeded in finding seeds in order to grow it here! Tests are in progress!
The Charlotte strawberry, coming from Mara des Bois — a favourite of the coveted Michelin stars — is now exclusively grown in the Hector Larivée fields for their clientele. To taste it, is to love it!