Ever-industrious Montreal chef Hakim Chajar is set to spend a little less time on-screen and a bit more time at the stovetop as of this Thursday: he’s joining Plateau demi-French spot Chambre à Part not just as a chef, but as a restaurant co-owner alongside Stephanie Labelle and Jean-Baptiste Marchand, both known for their work at La Fabrique.
Chajar first made a name for himself as a finalist on Radio-Canada cooking competition-cum-reality show Les Chefs! back in 2012; he appeared a second time on La Revanche, an all-stars reformulation of the show in 2014, too. Chajar also took on substantial challenges off the airwaves — he was tasked with cleaning up the mess that was Gordon Ramsay’s Laurier BBQ. He did good work piecing together a new reputation for the restaurant under the moniker Laurea, and a new ownership team consisting partly of Jeff Stinco, guitarist for the internationally ear-piercing Lavallois band Simple Plan.
Chajar left Laurea over a year ago to bounce back to TV, and Laurea was put on ice not too long after. Chambre à Part is definitely a more low-key operation than Laurea for Hakim: it has less big money behind it, and had a rocky start with a mix of rave and not-quite-rave reviews since opening a year ago.
He starts right in time for the annual festival of set menus MTLàTABLE and the menu he has put forward suggests that he’ll stick to his trademark style, injecting characteristic hints of Moroccan flavours into his cuisine — the menu definitely has the Chambre à Part vibe of French crossed with north-east North America, but raisins, lamb, cauliflower and labneh (to name a few) assert Chajar’s presence.
- With Laurea, the Reboot of Gordon Ramsay Laurier BBQ is Complete [EMTL]
- Mile End's Laurea Loses Chef Hakim Chajar to Television [EMTL]
- Laurea, the Makeover of Gordon Ramsay Laurier BBQ, Closes to Restructure [EMTL]
- Chambre à Part Scores Second Consecutive Rave [EMTL]
- New Plateau Restaurant Chambre à Part Falls Apart for Critic [EMTL]
- Chambre à Part [MTLàTABLE]