Chef Markus Montreuil’s first job in the business was as a bus boy at Carmels. In his down time he loved to watch the cooks and would often stand on the side of the line fascinated by the skills and wanting to learn. He would beg the cooks to teach him and finally a cook took pity on him and made a deal with him. If a ticket came into the kitchen in the next 1/2 hour, he’d teach him, if not, Markus would stop asking. Markus was excited and waited anxiously. And waited. He wandered out to the dining room and excitedly told the bartender about his upcoming cooking lesson. The bartender explained that they were closed between lunch and dinner and there were no guests to order. But feeling sorry for the kid, he ordered his lunch and that ticket came into the kitchen and Markus learned to make his first dish- nacho’s!
He went on to work at Bob Evans, with a long term goal to attend the Culinary Institute of America. However attending the CIA isn’t cheap and he had to figure out how to fund that dream. He found work as a machinist, and figured he could do that while he tried to save money for school. Life went on, as it does and suddenly 5 years down the road, Markus got injured.
During his rehab he realized that he worked very hard to be successful as a machinist but his heart was not in it. He dreamed of being a chef and while the CIA still wasn’t in the budget, he had ogther options. He got a job as a line cook at the Schindler Banquet Center in the winter of 2006 and soon after enrolled in the culinary arts program at Sinclair College.
As part of the program he interned as a saute cook at Cena, then as a pastry chef at C’est Tout. He also served as captain of the Culinary Competition Team. Upon graduating he found a job as a prep cook at Amelia’s Bistro and then was recruited back to the Schindler Banquet Center, where he worked his way up to Executive Chef, only to get let go when they lost a major contract and had to cut budgets. Luckily, the folks as Amelia’s appreciated his skills and work ethic and were able to rehire him.
The rest, as they say, is history. Markus earned the Executive Chef title at Amelia’s this past January and is now enjoying creating menu’s and producing perfectly plated meals, as demonstrated by his restaurant week specials. Speaking of which, Amelia’s Bistro will be extending their restaurant deal for a second week, so stop by and taste Chef Markus Montreuil’s specialties on the 3 course pre fixe menu for $25.12, a few of which are pictured below:
And now, Chef Markus answers our ten questions:
What is your favorite ingredient to cook with?
There are so many ingredients I love, I don’t know if I could pick only one. My top three would have to be Duck, Pork and Garlic, and not necessarily in that order.
What ingredient do you dread?
There isn’t much cooking wise I don’t like, but if you put a gun to my head I would say Offal. I know that in itself is not a specific ingredient, but rather a category of glands and organs. And I don’t dread it, it is just my least favorite. (Offal is everything from the heart, liver, lungs, and entrails of an animal, to the tail, feet, and head, each part with its own unique flavor. The word “offal” actually comes from the Old English “off” and “fall,” referring to the pieces that fall from an animal carcass during butchering.)
What’s your favorite dish to make?
I know it is not a dish, but stock is my all time favorite thing to make. It is a slow meticulous process, but I love it. There are so many things you can do with, and the difference between home made a store bought is like night and day.
What’s your favorite pig out food?
Nachos are the first thing I learned to cook in a restaurant when I was a busboy at Carmel’s as kid, and they have been my favorite ever since.
What restaurant, other than your own do you like to dine at in the Miami Valley?
I don’t eat out much, but when I do my favorite place to go is Cheng’s Gourmet. It is a little place in Xenia (and I mean 3 or 4 tables little) but the food is incredible.
What’s your best advice for home chefs?
Focus more on the journey and less on the destination. Remember that recipes are guidelines not laws. Be fearless and above all else have fun in the kitchen!
If you could invite any 4 guests to a dinner party who would they be and why?
I would have to say Sun Tzu, Albert Einstein, Jean Michel Basquiat and Julia Child. They were all innovators in their varying fields and I am fascinated by all of them. Plus I can’t imagine there would be any shortage of dinner conversation.
Who do you look up to in the industry and why?
Some of my favorites are Emeril Lagasse, Art Smith and Homaro Cantu. In spite of the over commercialization Emeril has always been my favorite. Art Smith is just an incredible Chef and person. And Homaro Cantu made the best meal I have ever eaten!
What do you do on a day off?
I really like to go to movies and festivals with my wife and kids, but I probably spend a few too many of days off reading and writing recipes, sorry Honey.
Share a kitchen disaster, lucky break or other interesting story:
I would say my lucky break was being hired at Amelia’s Bistro. It was the first fine dining job (that wasn’t an internship). In about three years I have gone from a part time lunch pantry position to Pastry Chef then on to Sous Chef and then at the beginning of this year I was named Executive Chef. So I would say that is a pretty lucky break.
Chef Markus created a recipe especially for DaytonDining:
Lemon and Dill Grilled Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps
4 boneless/skinless chicken breast (grilled and diced)
¾ cup mayo
½ cup lemon curd
½ cup red onion (fine dice)
3 Tablespoons Fresh Dill (chopped)
Zest and juice of one lemon
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
2 heads Bibb lettuce
In a large bowl, toss the chicken, red onion and lemon zest. Mix in the mayonnaise, lemon curd, lemon juice, fresh dill, and salt and pepper. Serve the salad in lettuce cups and roll up to eat.