When legendary British automaker and international spy darling, Aston Martin, chose to mark its first race at the Montreal Formula One Grand Prix, Manina World was called to stage a Club 1913 gathering worthy of the occasion. The event would welcome 100 of the best customers and closest friends of the brand, as well as the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing drivers and team members.
To elevate the moment, Decarie Motors, Aston Martin’s exclusive dealership for Eastern Canada, and Manina immediately turned to another legend: L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon at the Montreal Casino, the brainchild of the most Michelin-starred chef of all time. Creatively, the evening presented a challenge, as the desired cocktail format would require L’Atelier to alter its signature sit-down, counter service style to deliver an equally extraordinary standing show, a first for the restaurant.
Mabel Palomino, Manina’s president and creative director, didn’t need worry. As it turned out, L’Atelier’s director and executive chef for the Montreal Casino, Jean-Pierre Curtat, is a man who thrives in creative challenges. A gifted and jovial bon vivant with an encyclopaedic knowledge of his craft, chef Curtat summoned the talents of L’Atelier’s executive chef, Eric Gonzalez, and executive sous-chef, Stéphane Galibert, to imagine a hybrid service that would entertain guests with a surprising array of delicate passing morsels and refined, small-plate creations at the restaurant’s bar counters. The selections featured classics from Robuchon’s culinary repertoire and custom-designed dishes showcasing the best of the Quebec terroir.
When asked what defines the cuisine of L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, chef Curtat presented an insightful narrative. “When Mr. Robuchon envisioned L’Atelier, he saw food as only one of a myriad of components in a revolutionary approach to fine dining,” explained Curtat. “Mainly, Robuchon encouraged guests to abandon the ensconced Michelin-star French scenario, in which they enter a strict formal environment and enjoy their meals with much protocol at a table. L’Atelier invites all guests to sit at a bar and be received with abundant conviviality.”
This service style where waiters engage at eye level with guests while chefs create food in full view of everyone, is one that Curtat feels is extremely well suited to the culture of Quebec and Montreal. “Quebecers are hospitable by nature and hosting people warmly and informally, like family, is in our DNA,” added Curtat. “We make it a mission to hire individuals who, yes, are experienced masters of their métier, but who have first and foremost hospitality in their hearts.”
But at L’Atelier things are far from informal when it comes to execution. If a waiter position becomes available (something that practically has never happened since the opening in 2016), aspiring candidates must already be certified sommeliers to apply. Chefs and cooks have to be at the top of their game before taking it to the next level under the tutelage of Robuchon and his team. And everyone must be devoted to the discovery of and the experimentation with the most remarkable local food and beverage products to upkeep L’Atelier’s commitment to be a place of the here and now, flowing with the seasons.
“I have a deep admiration for Aston Martin’s devotion to perfection and their pursuit of beauty,” stated Mabel. “It is a boutique automaker that only builds a limited amount of spectacular cars every year, and, yet, remains very approachable for its fans. It was fundamental for me to stage Aston Martin’s Grand Prix debut at a place that shared the same culture of creativity, quest for perfection, and hospitality.”
Aston Martin Club 1913 happened on Thursday, June 7th, at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Montreal.
By Manina World
Notable Award – Best Event Planner Canada and Montreal