CHEF MEAGAN LARMANT
I grew up in Hawkestone, Ontario, Canada north of Toronto. I am the youngest of three girls and born with a congenital heart defect. Not letting my heart condition slow me down I was involved in sports and music without really knowing what I wanted to be when I grew up. It was my Uncle Moe that got me into cooking, he had the most beautiful vegetable garden and loved to watch the food network. He inspired me to go to culinary school and give it a try, if I didn’t like at least I would know how to cook for myself.
In culinary school, I spent some time in France and worked in a family run restaurant in Strasbourg. After school, I worked all across Canada including Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Ontario, and Vancouver. After my third open heart surgery, I left to work at three hat in Australia, and staged in Denmark eventually bringing back to Vancouver to work at some of the top restaurants in the city.
Wanting to focus 100% on my chocolate education I traveled to Peru to Farm and harvest cocoa and meet with the farmers, bringing me to work at Temper Chocolate and Pastry.
What inspired you to enter the world of pastry?
Funny enough pastry was not an area of culinary I ever thought I would enter, nor was it somewhere I wanted to be. Early in my career, I was focused on savory cooking, looking to be on the hotline and eventually to running a bergaged. Unfortunately, I have a congenital heart defect that forced me to re-think if that was the right decision for me and my health. It was then that Pastry Chef Isabelle Dionne at the Four Seasons introduced me to the world of pastry and more importantly chocolate. She taught me about how difficult an ingredient chocolate is and how pastry requires 100% of your attention, there is no room for error and no fixing a project halfway through. I was able to appreciate the nuances of such a difficult craft, the science behind the madness, the critical thinking you develop, and gained a huge appreciation for those who could do pastry at the highest level. It was after my time with Isabelle that I switched my focus to pastry and through pastry my skills as a savory chef also developed exponentially. Now I can't imagine a world where chocolate work and pastries are not a part of my daily life.
Where do you find inspirations for your creations?
Culture is a huge inspiration for me, with Vancouver being so culturally diverse I am able to pull from techniques and flavors from all over the world. More importantly, I look at what is my own backyard, British Columbia has one of the most diverse ecosystems yet to be thoroughly explored by chefs and pastry chefs.
At Temper Pastry as a team we are inspired by street art and the amazing cocktail bars here in the city, we have chocolate dedicated to the Pimms Cup, Classic Negroni, and Whiskey Sour. We like to partner with microbrewers, and distillers in our community to get everyone involved in our product development.
How is your team Responding to the new realities of the world during and eventually post-Covid 19?
I could not be more proud of the team here, they have handled everything with such high spirits. Dealing with new restrictions on a weekly basis and having to re-imagine how we can serve our guests has been a challenge. The response and support we have received from our community has been overwhelming, we have been able to keep our doors open and continue to create. I feel as though we have been busier than ever, there is nothing more comforting than a good cup of coffee and warm croissant and the neighborhood appreciates our efforts. The future's looking bright and we are excited for a time when we can provide our full Temper experience, and for now, we are having fun with what we are able to do.
What Social Responsibility / Community initiative are the proudest of taking part in?
Mind the Bar is a charity organization that was formed here in Vancouver. It provides mental health services to those in hospitality dealing with addiction, anxiety, depression, financial issues, and the list goes on. With hospitality workers being so vulnerable to serious mental issues Mind the Bar partners with mental health professionals experienced in our field of work.
What are your hopes for the future of the world of food and pastry?
My hope is that people remind themselves of the reason they got into this line of work and our guests see the amount of work, love, and tears that goes into everything we make. Food and pastry requires and demands so much from us, at the end of the day we just want to share something that is delicious.
What should the role of the food/ pastry industry be in the community? The world? The environment?
I think it was Ban Barber that said “chefs dictate the trends” as chefs we have this awesome power to put obscure ingredients into the mainstream, bring back techniques from ancient cultures, and highlight farmers that refuse to contribute to commercial methods. Chefs have the capability to drive the masses to a more sustainable way of eating, which brings diversity of food to work with. A lot of the food we eat today is void of the nutrients that our bodies require to function properly leaving us vulnerable to disease and food allergies, we need to support those that want to grow the best versions of our food because that means more vitamins, more minerals, and a healthier community.
What is your earliest dessert memory?
Apple pie! A good old-fashioned apple pie made with Bourbon is what my family has been making for as long as I can remember and was the first dessert I learned how to make all by myself as a kid. My family has a healthy competition of who’s apple pie is the best, my dad would like to argue that his is the best and my brother-in-law comes in a close second. But every time I am home I remind them of who makes dessert for a living so I am currently undefeated.
If you could pass one bit of insight down to a chef just getting their start, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to do something because you think you don’t have enough experience or you think you are not good enough. I have been a Chef for 12 years now and I still think I don’t know anything, what people care about most is your attitude. Show up ready to work and ask questions, pay attention, take notes and absorb the information and the people you want to learn from will want to teach you.
What is your favorite perk of the Cercle V program?
OMG! I am in love with the app they launched, it has made my life a lot easier when it comes to discovering new product lines and developing new products.
When & how did you hear about Valrhona for the first time? / When & how did your “relationship” with Valrhona start?
I first discovered Valrhona while working at the Four Seasons 10 years ago, my relationship started two years ago when I look over as Head Chocolatier for Temper Chocolate and Pastry.
Meg, Meggy, Megatron, Meggy loo who
Celsius or Fahrenhight?
Favorite Valhrona Chocolate?
Ask for Luigi, Vancouver
Favorite pairing with chocolate?
Hazelnut, hands down
Coffee or tea?
Favorite Kitchen tool?
Japanese Petty/utility knife
Favorite type of dessert to make? To eat?