Tall, handsome and in his early thirties, looking more at ease on the deck of a big yacht or fast motorbike than in a kitchen, Sebastien Houle has already explored several continents in search of his own signature as a chef.
Over the past fifteen years, he has visited Europe, most of North America, the West Indies, Australia from coast to coast, Thailand and Malaysia.
Curiosity is the key to all artistic expression and Sebastien has pursued his desire to learn by exploring markets around the world, questioning local producers about their products, staying with local residents to learn their secrets about cooking, trading recipes with grandmothers and chefs alike. He has learned to respect the quality and taste of local produce and to blend them with the flavours and creativity of an international palate.
True to the artistic soul, he believes that the colours and shapes on the plate add to the gastronomic pleasures of taste and smell.
He started training under the watchful eye of chef Serge LeBlanc at Saint-Brieuc, Bretagne, France in the 1990’s and was convinced that he wanted to become a chef. He returned to Québec for professional study at the École hôtelière Barthélémy-Joliette, graduating with a diploma in 1998.
He began cooking professionally at the Hotel l’Éstérel in the Laurentians and then moved to the restaurant Edelweiss in Lake Louise, Alberta. His experience there helped to encourage his interest in exploring other cultures and cuisines.
As the year 2000 began, he decided to travel to Australia in their summer season and worked in some of the best restaurants in the country. He then set sail for South East Asia to learn more about the regional differences in cooking. He returned to Québec for a brief time and worked in two Montréal restaurants, Bocké as a chef and then at Area, as a sous-chef with owner-chef Yan Perrault.
But the desire to learn more by travel was too strong and he decided to become a chef at sea on some of the most prestigious yachts and liners. In 2002 he became chef on the M/S Beaugeste, which sailed across the Atlantic and into the Mediterranean. He had the privilege of dining at Ducasse in Monaco and spending time in the kitchen of Édouard Loubet at the renowned Moulin de Lourmarin, learning about the legacy of Marc Veyrat and his desire for excellence. He became the chef on the M/S Kaori in 2003 to travel the Mediterranean and Caribbean and then became chef on Tatoosh, one of Paul Allen’s boats. Paul Allen was an associate of Bill Gates at Microsoft. While he visited some of the most beautiful ports in the world and had access to quality produce, he learned that the VIP clientele on a luxury yacht can be very demanding and critical and to keep them happy, he had to seduce them with innovative dishes made with the produce available. Sebastien met this challenge with flying colours and became a sought-after chef for “floating palaces”. One of the guests on an elite yacht wrote the following ”Thank you for introducing us to the best cuisine I have tasted. Your talent will lead you far and it was a privilege to meet you. Please send me twenty copies of your first cookbook.”
In 2006, Sebastien opened his own restaurant with his partner and friend Guy Bourbonnière, a sommelier. Located in the centre of Mont-Tremblant, Québec, the restaurant, sEb, l’artisan culinaire offers a sophisticated menu and wine list and a cuisine made from the best selection of local products from the Laurentians and the province of Québec. The menus he prepares for the restaurant reflect his international experience and his profound knowledge of food.
At the Saturday market in Mont-Tremblant village, Sebastien gives a cooking demonstration to highlight the different meat, fish, greens, cheeses and fruits available in the area. Together with his partner Guy, he has also launched a fine wine importation company called Les Fils de Bacchus.
Sebastien has found his culinary signature and it is the fusion of innovative cuisine and the art of presentation.
In the meantime, sEb continued his development, becoming increasingly interested in the major international trends in the more innovative gastronomic arts. His taste for molecular cuisine, as invented by Ferran Adria of the El Bulli restaurant in Spain, began to develop. This cuisine has so often been spoken about internationally that it has given rise to all sorts of crazy myths and rumours.
On two occasions at the local markets, sEb explained this original product-treatment philosophy to customers and displayed the concrete results in the form of two specific recipes: cocktails with liquid nitrogen yogurt and ice cream with maple syrup. Those present were enchanted.