A Cook’ Canvas
Shadowing Executive Chef Dominique Tougne of Chez Moi and LaVoute Bistro & Bar
by Veronica LePinske
Those who know me and longtime readers know that I dream of being a Chef one day, having started my site years ago while living in southwestern Germany. I got my start with a stack of cookbooks that my husband gave me as inspiration to start pursuing my dream. If you had told me back then that in 5 years I would be writing about Chefs who’ve trained under the legendary authors of that stack of books, that I would have the chance to watch them in the kitchen and taste their work, I would not have believed you.
Fast forward 5 years, and I have in fact written about and photographed many Chefs, attended dozens of glamorous culinary events, I’ve even attended a star gala and met the great people at Michelin guide! Though I have written about all kinds of cuisines and restaurants, lately my focus has shifted back to when I started writing about French food, and recently had the opportunity to shadow for a day one of Joël Robuchon’s own pupils, Executive Chef Domonique Tougne of Chez Moi in Chicago, a supporter, organizer, and participant in À la carte Chicago 2015.
We met first thing at 8am at La Fornette for breakfast while Chef Dominique briefs me on the schedule for today. I enjoy a black coffee and pain au chocolat while Chef Dominique explains that La Fournette supplies his restaurant with breads, and in return Chez Moi prepares salads and small dishes for La Fournette. I’ve known of this bakery for a while as one of the few that come highly recommended by European expats living in Chicago. It was the first place we found shortly after moving back from Germany that made really good, authentic breads and pastry. The level of quality and authenticity are no surprise, given that the family who runs La Fournette came from Strasbourg in the Alsace region of eastern France. They came to America with the intention of bringing their generations of skill in breadmaking to the people of Chicago, who eagerly buy up all of the delicious French breads, patisserie, and macarons that La Fournette can produce.