• James Parry

DDO budding chef wins prestigious international scholarship in world of fine cuisine

PHOTO COURTESY DOREEN CROLL

Cooking up a storm in the kitchen during his recent internship in France, Jonathan Prima (right) looks forward to the day when he will open his own restaurant in Quebec promoting local produce and culture.

Recently returned from a three-month stay in the ski resort village of Val Thorens in France, Dollard-Des-Ormeaux resident 21-year-old Jonathan Prima is already planning his next trip away from home. Namely to Peru, California, and Singapore. But not for a vacation.

Rather, Prima, who went to École Secondaire Dorval/Jean XXIII in Dorval and graduated in 2012 from Vanier College in St. Laurent, will be further pursuing his dream of one day becoming a top chef in Quebec and opening his very own restaurant promoting local products and produce while developing a cooking culture that is truly reflective of the province. And he is certainly off to an incredible start.

While in France from February to April, he was serving an internship with the 2 Michelin Star winner Restaurant Jean Sulpice. And upon his departure, he was one of only five to be awarded a prestigious Grands Chefs Relais & Châteaux Scholarship - Bourse d’excellence de l’ITHQ - which will see him continuing his apprenticeship for the next three years at three distinguished restaurants of his own choosing around the world.

“The first I chose,” Prima told Your Local Journal this week, “is the Restaurant at Meadowood in California because their style of cooking is really pure and they have a respect for the produce that I would like to participate in. They also have their own garden in which they produce vegetables and this I find really interesting.”

The second is the Restaurant Centrale in Lima, Peru, because he says, “I want to learn Latin American cooking and culture and for me Peru is the best place for my objective because there is a big food culture developing there. I also chose this restaurant because they go foraging and they are pushing forward the Peruvian food culture by putting forward local products that are at their best which I am very interested in doing here in Quebec.”

As for the third, Prima opts for the Restaurant St. Pierre in Singapore. Mainly, he explains, because he absolutely wants to go to Asia to learn about the culture and food there. “They have an incredible knowledge of how flavours work together and how to balance them. I also want to learn more about fish since Singapore has a lot of different types and different ways to cook them.”

Adds Prima, “It is an incredible opportunity for me that can only help me in achieving my goal of being at the helm of my own kitchen in Quebec five years from now, developing my own style of cooking, and putting forward Quebec cuisine.”

As for his own personal favourite dish to prepare? “Wild mushroom risotto,” says Prima. “Because I love the earth-meaty taste of mushrooms and, for me, it is one of those foods that just makes you feel warm all over. I also love game because they have a taste that is really robust and unique.”

Apart from the scholarship, what will he always remember about his recent internship in France? Laughs Prima, “I was working in the kitchen one day and a Canadian TV crew came in to interview the chef. I started to talk to them and one of them told me he was from Montreal. More precisely, Pointe-Claire. For me, it was really funny because out of all the places in Quebec he came from almost the same place as me which is incredible. It really is a small world!”

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