The Grand Cru is about to set sail for its summer season and the crew are working flat out to ensure that the catamaran is shipshape (pun intended!) and ready to receive passengers. The kitchen too is a hive of activity! The chef and his team have been working all spring, to create a new menu of tasty dishes, showcasing local ingredients.

Just prior to the start of the new season, we spoke with Alexandre Poulin, Executive Chef aboard Grand Cru, Escapades Memphrémagog’s cruise boat.

When did you begin this nautical adventure with Escapades Memphrémagog?

I have been in this job since June 2022, but I arrived only a few days before the beginning of the high season! This year, I’ve had more time to prepare.  I started from scratch and created my own menu, designing it from A to Z…

Of course, I’ve been in the restaurant business for a long time. I started back in the 1990s, when I was 15-16 years old. I washed dishes in a brasserie. An opening came up for an assistant cook, so I applied for the position and got it. I really wanted to learn. From there, I worked my way up the ladder. I worked in big restaurants where I had to get out hundreds of covers every night. Finally, I’d had enough! I wanted to spend more time with my family and that’s when the job came up at Escapades Memphrémagog.

What do you do during the winter when the boat isn’t in operation?

My days are still busy! Our last outing on the boat last season was October 16. After that, we had to clean everything, stow equipment, and close the kitchen. After a few days of vacation, I then went to help out in the other kitchens that are part of the properties of the PAL+ group, mainly at the OMG Resto and at Bistro 4 Saisons. The winter passed quickly. In March, the meals on my new menu were ready for tasting!

Tell me about the new menu…

My goal is to offer our customers meals that are hearty and refined, using regional products that might not be familiar to them. They’re generous portions with lots of seasonal vegetables and fresh, high quality local ingredients, that are prepared in surprising ways.

Maxime, my sous-chef, contributed many of his own ideas and I’m grateful for his input. Cooking is a team effort!

This year, we‘re again featuring trout from Ferme Piscicole des Bobines. It’s very popular, especially for brunch/lunch. We serve it on an English muffin with wilted local mushrooms, Hollandaise sauce, spinach, and a poached egg.


I also offer a vegan meal, so it’s lactose free and even gluten free. It’s a Buddha bowl with sweet potatoes, chickpeas, broccolini and fried kale. Those who tried it during our tasting session really loved it!

I’ll also have a smoked meat croque-monsieur, a tender flank steak, an Asian-style salmon steak… Anyway, I’ll let you discover them for yourself!

How do you decide what local products to incorporate in the menu?

Tracking down what I’m looking for takes time. I search the Web, I call a variety of places to find out who can provide me with enough fresh products on a regular basis. I also have my favourite suppliers—Ferme des Bobines for trout, Canard du Lac Brome for duck, Épices Crousset for spices and a number of local cheesemakers, like Fromagerie Saint-Benoît-du-Lac at the Benedictine monastery, Fromagerie des Cantons, Fromagerie La Station, and so on.

Glass of sangria

Is it challenging to create meals for a restaurant that isn’t stationary?

Oh yes! The logistics aren’t easy. We have to plan the entire menu taking into account that the dining room is floating on water! Our dishes must be prepared ashore in our kitchen and then transferred to the boat, where we add the final touches. That’s the reason we ask our passengers to make their food choices ahead of time. The galley on the boat is so cramped that we wouldn’t be able to prepare the entire meal on board.

We then have to make sure that everything—absolutely everything!—is on board the boat before it heads out on the lake. I’m talking about dishes, glasses, cutlery, napkins… Once you’re away from land, if you forget something, it’s too late!

And finally, the service has to run like clockwork. Our team has a limited time to serve all the courses. We certainly can’t get back to the dock only to find that dessert hasn’t yet been served… Good teamwork is the secret! In short, yes, there are a lot of things to think about, but the challenges are what motivates me and my team.


This summer, sample the creativity of Alexandre and his team for yourself, by taking a cruise on Grand Cru on Lake Memphremagog.