The Velvet Restaurant will feature a 360-degree bar with a view of the Silverlode chairlift. (Chelsea Novak/Castlegar News)

Chef Choquette bringing fine dining to Red Mountain

Red Mountain will soon be home to a fine dining experience with a view of the chairlift.

ROSSLAND — Red Mountain will soon be home to a fine dining experience with a view of the chairlift.

Marc André Choquette has been hired as executive chef of the Velvet Restaurant and Lounge, which will soon open in the Josie Hotel.

Choquette, who is originally from Montreal, was most recently a product development chef for Cactus Club, was chef de cuisine at Vancouver chef David Hawksworth’s flagship restaurant Hawksworth, and worked at West, Lumière and Voya in the Loden Hotel — all of which is to say that he has an impressive resumé and more than knows his way around a kitchen.

Even when it’s under construction.

Last Thursday Choquette and the Josie Hotel’s marketing manager, Liz Day, gave Rossland News a tour of the still-under-construction dining room and kitchen of the Velvet Restaurant.

A main feature of the dining room is a clear view of the Silverlode chairlift, which Choquette cited as an influence on his menu.

“Imagine like you just have a crazy day on the mountain, you’re totally tired, you’re hungry — what else but a nice earthy beef onion baked French soup,” he says.

The windows of the dining room and lounge will open up during the summer to a concrete patio, which Choquette says will also be heated in the winter.

The lounge features a 360-degree bar and the dining room also offers a view into the kitchen, as well as a six-stool bar in front of what Choquette says will be the gardé manger or cold appetizer prep station.

He describes the colour-scheme for the restaurant as dark walnut with splashes of colour, and while the design of the dining area and the kitchen was already decided on before Choquette was hired, he and his team have been picking out serving dishes, which he describes as his canvas.

As for the medium, Choquette will use on that canvas, he arrived in September and has already been able to meet with some local farmers.

“I was able to go to about four of the Rossland farmers’ markets. Made some connections there with local meat suppliers and some farmers for vegetables as well,” he says.

Choquette envisions having farmers pull up to the hotel with trucks loaded with local produce that will not only be used in the Velvet’s seasonal menu, but it’s daily specials as well.

“I’m hoping a minimum of two changes per season, but with tons of daily features,” he says.

The Velvet’s drink menu will also be locally inspired.

Choquette says that Donald Haddad, who he worked with at Lumière, is an awesome sommelier.

“Knows his wine. Great selection of local wine as well, a little bit of European wine as well, a bit of our lovely neighbours down in California, Washington, Oregon. Trying to keep it local that way,” Coquette says. “A cocktail program focused on organic, pure juice. Blueberries, huckleberries, watermelon, herbs from the mountains. So we’re going to do infusion. Infuse some vodka, infuse some gins perhaps.”

With the kitchen still under construction, Choquette and his team have been limited to planning the menu on paper, but soon his own home kitchen will be employed for testing.

But even if it isn’t ready, the Velvet’s kitchen still has some shiny goodies in place.

The kitchen is equipped with, among many other things, a convection oven, which will allow Choquette to smoke a number of things.

“We’ll do our charcuterie as well, some like beef bresaola or like pork coppa, which are all delicious dry charcuterie,” he says. “We’ll smoke some fish. Smoked vegetables, you name it, we can do everything.”

The kitchen will also provide catering options for anyone using the Josie Hotel’s banquet facilities.

The opening date for the Velvet has yet to be determined, but Choquette estimates it will take 12 to 14 days for his team to set up and train in the kitchen once construction is complete.

The chef says he is excited to welcome locals to the restaurant and is hoping to do some dry runs about two weeks before opening. The public would be invited to come eat while the staff practices.

Day says a notice regarding those events will be posted on Bhubble and the Josie Hotel’s Facebook page.

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