- Story by Lauren Kramer Photography by Darren Hull
When Stephane Facon first laid eyes on Kelowna in 2014, it was love at first sight for the Parisian pastry chef.
“It was exactly what we wanted: the fruit, the wine, the lake, the mountain,” he reflected.
In 2001, he and his wife, Beatrice, had moved their family from Paris to Shediac, New Brunswick, where they opened La Boulangerie Française. But after four years of subzero East Coast winters, they were ready for a warmer climate. A friend recommended they visit Vancouver and Kelowna and Stéphane flew west to investigate. Within hours of touchdown he called Beatrice.
“We’re moving!” he announced.
The timing was perfect. The owner of Bouchons Bistro, a 52-seat French restaurant in Kelowna, was selling and the Facons were ready to take his place. Quickly, the deal was sealed and Stéphane and Beatrice began creating an indelible culinary imprint in the city. Bouchons had long been known for superb, traditional French cuisine, the kind of restaurant chosen for special celebrations like birthdays, anniversaries and graduations. The pair had a stellar reputation with which to begin their career as restaurateurs, and slowly, they added select dishes to the menu to reflect the creations they’d known and loved when they dined out in Paris.
To cater to vegans and vegetarians, they introduced a tarte Mediterranean, a vegan bourguignon and vegan cheese. Foie gras was a must, and salmon gravlax and halibut were other popular new items.
“Our most sought-after dishes are the snails, onion soup, cassoulet and lamb rack,” Stéphane said. “My personal favourites are the foie gras au torchon, bouillabaisse and duck confit.”
|The Bouillabaisse at Bouchons Bistro. Darren Hull photography photography
These traditional French dishes have met a popular audience and most diners come because they love the combination of French food and Parisian-style service. Servers are smartly attired in shirts, ties and aprons; silverware is changed between each course and the dining experience is subtly upscale without being in any way intimidating.
“Since we bought the restaurant, we’ve seen increasing numbers of young people coming in for dinner,” Stéphane said.
Recently, Executive Chef Xavier Souvignet, previously executive chef to the French ambassador in Kuala Lumpur, took the helm of the kitchen. With his strength in French cuisine, the Facons have added private event catering to their business, operating out of a commercial kitchen.
“We brought all our baking equipment from New Brunswick to our commercial kitchen in Kelowna, so we have everything we need to make pastries and desserts for the restaurant and for private clients organizing personal and corporate events,” Stéphane said. Today Bouchons’ catering division can serve anywhere from 15 up to 100 guests at private events.
Open daily for dinner, the bistro’s success is a true team effort. Beatrice oversees the administration and finances of Bouchons while Stéphane helps prepare duck legs, terrine, cakes and profiteroles in the kitchen.
“I’m lucky to have her as my partner and wife,” he said. “We work in a very complementary way and she always delivers great advice.”
|Stephane and Beatrice Facon at their Bouchons Bistro in Kelowna. Darren Hull photography
The Facons’ Canadian adventure is going well and they are grateful to be operating an authentic French restaurant with great service in Kelowna, a city they adore.
“Bouchons perfectly represents the French culinary tradition,” Stéphane said.
Gratinée Lyonnaise (Onion Soup)
1000 grams onion
100 grams butter
1.5 litres chicken stock
10 crostini baguettes
100 grams emmental cheese
Peel the onions and slice finely. Melt the butter over low heat, add onion and stir constantly to brown. Gradually add chicken stock and cook for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Lightly toast crostini in the oven or toaster oven. Ladle soup into “tête de lion” bowls or soup bowls, place crostini on top, then layer emmental on top of the bread. Broil for 2 to 3 minutes in oven. Serve immediately.
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