Lancelot Monteiro: Chef at Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts
Why did you decide to become a chef? When did you start working with Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts?
I love to cook. That’s the simplest answer. Before I attended culinary school at SAIT, I had gotten my private pilot’s license and was set on taking my life in that direction. But, then I came across an opportunity to volunteer at an orphanage in Mexico where I ended up doing a lot of the cooking for the children there. This is when I discovered my passion for cooking and the impact that food can have on people’s lives. When I came back from Mexico, I realized that I would rather pursue cooking than flying. I am now the Executive Chef at Cilantro, where I started as a Sous-Chef in 2010. Now I’m looking forward to experimenting with different recipes at Urban Butcher and making cooking less intimidating for guests.
What do you find the most rewarding about working in the restaurant/food industry?
Definitely the customer experience – it’s an unparalleled feeling when a customer comes to your restaurant and has had an exceptional experience. From the food they eat and the wine they drink, to the service they receive. It’s very rewarding being able to facilitate a great culinary experience for someone. I also find it very rewarding having the ability to educate people – helping them realize that cooking is not as challenging as they might think, and that they have the ability to craft nutritious and enjoyable food, at home, in their own kitchen.
What interested you the most about Urban Butcher and why did you decide to get involved?
I’ve always loved being able to connect with the local community over food, and help educate people on how they can create meals that they can connect with their family and friends over. Additionally, using quality meat and ingredients is very important to me, and that’s something that butchery really makes accessible. The ability to see the animal as a whole, break it down into its diverse components, and then creatively come up with ways to use every part – it’s really an interesting process. Both locations of Urban Butcher are right in the heart of two very active and full communities, so I’m really looking forward to sharing my passion for quality ingredients with them and showing members of the community how they can enhance their cooking by using ingredients from Urban Butcher.
Why do you think people are hesitant to try new things in the kitchen? How can Urban Butcher help?
Experimenting in the kitchen can be seriously intimidating – especially with all the cooking shows out there that show people doing all kinds of crazy things. Viewers start to feel like it’s something they could never do on their own. But if there’s one piece of advice I could give to people who want to feel more confident, empowered, and happier in their kitchen, it would simply be to believe that cooking can be easy. You just need to know where to find the right resources. That’s something that Urban Butcher is trying to help with – we want to take the guess work out of creating nutritious foods at home. We want customers to feel that they can come in and tell us what they are wanting to do, and we can set them up with exactly what they need and tell them how to do it efficiently while still having fun.
What is your favorite type/cut/kind of meat to cook with and why?
I would have to say bison, primarily because of the nutritional value, especially when compared to Beef. Bison is a very lean meat, and there is something about it that just tastes more natural. Urban Butcher gets all its bison from the Canadian Rocky Mountain Ranch, where the animals are naturally grass-fed and finished with Alberta-grown grass. It can be hard to find meat from animals that are grass-fed throughout their entire lives, so it’s nice knowing exactly what you are cooking with.
Why do you think using meat from a local butcher is important?
The big-box and chain grocery stores purchase all of their meat in huge quantities and distribute it out through all their stores, so they tend to use massive farms that have a very big carbon footprint. With butchers, you are guaranteed quality meat due to the fact that everything is handpicked from smaller and local farms, and the meat isn’t mass-produced.