It is official. Marc-Alexandre Mercier is among the class of Eater Young Gun finalists for 2014. As such, the Hôtel Herman chef will be fêted in Los Angeles tonight with a group of sixteen chefs, restaurateurs, sommeliers, and hospitality industry professionals from all over North America.
In a Young Guns profile of Mercier for Eater National, your editor wrote:
Ultimately, you may have to summon the assistance of Dominic Goyet and Ariane Lacombe, Hôtel Herman's owners, to trumpet the gifts of a chef who has co-led a movement away from the punchier brand of cuisine that has put Montreal on the map over the past decade. While facile to label Mercier's food as terroir-driven, vegetable-centric fare (he is more versatile than those terms suggest), the artful, accessible plates that unfurl from his kitchen feel like a mindful salvo in the face of so much foie gras.
As Goyet explains, "He's the talent but it's like we're his managers. He's very humble and likes to keep things low key."
Low key, much like Mercier's origins in Saint-Cyrille-de-l'Islet, 200 miles outside of Montreal in Quebec's Chaudière-Appalaches region.
"We always push him," jokes Lacombe, "because when we have people who want to talk to him he's always so shy. He always stands up for what he's doing if people ask but he won't be the first to talk about it."
See the list of Young Guns finalists here.