The Quebec government office in Atlanta and a group of consuls from French-speaking countries brought a chef from Quebec City to the Georgia capital to prepare a dinner celebrating the Canadian province’s 400th anniversary at JoÃ«l restaurant in Buckhead April 7.
Yvan Lebrun, a native of St. Malo, France, and chef at Quebec City’s Restaurant Initiale made his first visit to Atlanta to prepare the meal with JoÃ«l’s executive chef Cyrille Holota.
March is recognized as Francophone month by French communities worldwide and the dinner served as the closing event for Atlanta’s celebrations, which are organized each year by the Atlanta Francophonie Committee.
This committee, comprised of the consulates of Canada, France, Luxembourg and Switzerland and the Quebec government office, Alliance Francaise d’Atlanta and the French American Chamber of Commerce in Atlanta, organized cultural events in several Southeast states throughout the month.
Atlanta hosted concerts, film screenings and book readings featuring French artists at Georgia State University, the High Museum of Art and Rialto Arts Center while North Greeneville University in South Carolina and the University of Memphis in Tennessee held French film festivals.
Mr. Lebrun told GlobalAtlanta, with translation help from Mr. Holota, that Quebec City’s consular corps frequents Restaurant Initiale and suggested that their colleagues in Atlanta invite him here.
The chefs did not meet until 10 a.m. on the day of the dinner, but Mr. Lebrun sent a list of ingredients required for the meal and Mr. Holota got everything from Atlanta-area distributors.
“It’s all about communication,” Mr. Lebrun said of the collaboration, adding that the few times the chefs spoke on the phone were enough to formulate the menu.
The chefs carried a French theme throughout the meal, pairing several of the courses with wines from French-speaking countries, beginning with one from NeuchÃ¢tel, Switzerland. Two other wines were produced in Bordeaux and the RhÃ´ne River valley, famed winemaking regions in France, and the last was an ice wine made in the Niagara Peninsula in Canada.
An actor playing Samuel de Champlain, who founded Quebec City in 1608, interrupted a speech on the history of the city to tell the approximately 45 guests that ice wine is made from frozen grapes to give a sweeter flavor.
Mr. Lebrun’s two-day visit did not leave much time for sightseeing, but he did visit the Dogwood Festival at Lenox Square mall April 6.
Ginette Chenard, head of the Quebec government office in Atlanta, said that celebrations of the province’s 400th anniversary will continue throughout the year in Canada and around the world.
The Atlanta office is helping to organize the April 23-27 Festival International de Louisiane in Lafayette, La., one evening of which will celebrate Quebec’s 400th year.
Events in Quebec will continue until October, focusing on the culture and history of the province.