Charles-Antoine Crête comes from Saint-Augustin de Mirabel.
He started at Jean-Paul Giroux’s restaurant at the age of 11 where he worked as a dishwasher and an entry-level cook.
A little later, he moved to Toronto and worked for David Lee and00 Mark Thuet.
Upon his return to Montreal, he enrolled at the ITHQ; from where he was quickly expelled. Jean-Philippe Tastet has always called Charles Antoine Crête a free electron. “An electron weakly bound to the atomic nucleus; which participates, among other things, in the circulation of electricity”. That’s hard to control in a classroom. But oh, how creative.
After being expelled from the ITHQ, a friend of his referred him to the restaurant Toqué! – which was on St-Denis street at the time. He started as a clerk, and then became a cook. The Toqué! establishment is now a Relais et Château and is one of the 100 best restaurants in the world.
He then left to travel, working in Spain at El Bulli, among others, then elsewhere to Australia and France.
He returned in 2004 and took the position of chef de cuisine at Toqué!
A few months later, Charles-Antoine and Normand gave a “Cooking from scraps” conference in New York City on the importance of scraps in cooking. “We thought about how we cook; about what we do differently, and what we do differently is use every element of each ingredient. We have a ‘poor man’s heritage’; we peel the potatoes, but we don’t throw away the peels: we invent a dish with them. From our heritage comes an imagination that forces us to be creative with every element of the ingredients.” Many top chefs now work with this principle.
In 2010, Charles-Antoine Crête and Normand set up Brasserie T. “I made the menu, hired the people, we trained them, took care of the running of the place, and I was the chef for a little while.”
In 2012, they released the book Toqué – “I’m really particular with the details. We postponed the book because of the asparagus. It wasn’t asparagus season, and we couldn’t put up pictures of less than perfect asparagus. If you look at the book, there are 4 photos of asparagus. But we saved time and did it exactly the way we wanted. I’m very proud of the book.”
In 2013, he left Toqué! after years of work. Normand Laprise said at the time, “It’s not really a departure; it’s more like a normal evolution, a bit like when children leave home, they don’t really leave, ever. Charles-Antoine is one of the chefs of the future for Montreal. He’s one of the kind of cooks that are innovating. David (McMillan), Derek (Dammann), Martin (Picard), they are all trailblazers. And with Charles-Antoine, I will remain as I did with Martin, very close, very connected.”
In 2014, he participated in the program “Dining with the enemy,” produced by TV5 Monde.
He then helped develop the spirit of the bar and restaurant Majestique; putting together the menu, building the kitchen team, etc. The place quickly became a success – in fact, it’s one of our favourite places to have a drink and a bite to eat.