Culinary Team Canada would like to extend a warm welcome to the newest member of our team: Chef Sylvain Cuerrier! Chef Sylvain has been working in kitchens around the world since he was 13 years old and is now the executive Chef of Vancouver’s River Rock Casino.
Welcome Sylvain and we are so happy to have you on the team!
Born in Lachine, Quebec, Chef Sylvain Cuerrier grew up on Ile Perrot, a small island to the west of Montreal with a mainly agricultural vocation at the time. Sylvain’s appreciation for food came at an early age, eating fish that the family would catch, harvesting produce from the family garden, canning and making soups from scratch was the way his mother and grand-mother use to cook. It was Sylvain’s grandmother who first provided the inspiration for him to become a Chef. “She was incredibly talented; food had no secret for her, everything she touched tasted amazing”
Sylvain learned his profession the old fashioned way, starting his first job at age 13 in the kitchen of his uncle’s restaurant. He worked his way up from dishwashing and washing floors to learning the ways of the kitchen, eventually earning the rights to contribute to more intricate preparations. From there he put himself through school while working in the kitchen of a private club in his hometown.
Sylvain’s first big break came in 1989 when he was recruited into the ranks of the legendary Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Montreal. With an international reputation as the pinnacle of grand hotel service and dining in Montreal; it was considered the “Grande Dame of Sherbrooke Street”. One of the last full kitchen brigades of some 75 cooks from all over the world, it was led by Chef Christian Leveque, “a man of great strength and knowledge, who knew how to extract performances out of us that we never thought were possible.” By the time he left the very intense Chef Leveque, Sylvain had earned a Chef de Partie position working as Garde-Manger, Entremetier/Potager, Grillardin/Rotisseur and eventually Saucier.
Following this tenure at The Ritz, Sylvain traveled to Northeastern Quebec where he was offered a Sous-Chef position at Hotel Tadoussac, made famous by the movie Hotel New Hampshire, where it was filmed. Under the tutelage of acclaimed Chef Jean-Claude Philly, one of Eastern Canada’s most celebrated Chefs, Sylvain continued to hone his classic French skills serving a Bourgoise cuisine based on the bounty of the local fishing industry.
A constant yearning for more knowledge and an ever growing appreciation of cultural diversity brought Chef Cuerrier out west, where he would produce Continental European fare in Fairmont’s acclaimed Chateau Lake Louise, the jewel of the Canadian Rockies.
Sylvain then returned to the province of his youth to create a fusion of classic French, Southwestern and Californian cuisine under the skillful hand of Chef Jacky Francois, a Southern USA expatriate at the five star Hotel Intercontinental Montreal.
It was upon his return to the West Coast that Sylvain met a mentor and a close friend, Chef Dominique Couton, who introduced the knowledge hungry Cuerrier to the products and influences of the Pacific Rim. During his time with Chef Couton at the Capilano Golf & Country Club, Sylvain also traveled to the Aquitaine region of Southwestern France. Situated north of the Basque countryside of France, it is one of the most renowned gastronomic areas of the country, from which have emerged some of the world’s most successful Chefs. There Sylvain spent time at the Michelin Star Relais et Chateaux Restaurant Helene Darrozze.
Following his return from France, Sylvain spent another year working with Chef Couton in Vancouver, where he applied the knowledge he brought back from France. This was the springboard for Sylvain’s appointment to the position of Observatory Sous Chef at Grouse Mountain Resorts. Early in his tenure at Grouse Mountain, Sylvain was selected by the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei to be the Guest Chef, representing BC and Alberta at the Canadian Food Festival hosted by the Grand Formosa Hotels in Taiwan. Sylvain’s time in Southeast Asia further fuelled his passion for international culinary contributions.
At Grouse Mountain’s Observatory a high-energy team led by Sylvain created a West Coast cuisine where the emphasis was on locally and organically grown products influenced by the Pacific Rim. In 2001, Sylvain took over as Executive Chef for Grouse Mountain Resorts and for the next six years Sylvain’s passion and dedication paid off, garnering the Resort numerous awards and accolades.
In April of 2007 Sylvain was appointed as Executive Chef at River Rock Casino Resort, a member of the AAA four diamond property circle, recipient of the World Luxury Hotel Awards for the 3rd year in a row and a PHG Summit Hotels & Resorts. At River Rock Sylvain is responsible for the entire Culinary Department. With nine different restaurants and bars and over 120 culinary personnel, Sylvain is kept extremely busy.
Sylvain’s commitment to innovative cuisine, promotion and coaching of apprentices, encompassing the best of international techniques, flavors, textures and styles, both classic and modern, has raised the caliber of food and beverage facilities wherever he has lent his hand. “One must share with others and especially with the youth in order to preserve, enhance and perpetuate this age-old trade and art, that unites all cultures.”
“I must say I have been blessed with the chance to have learned from some incredibly dedicated, knowledgeable, talented and upstanding individuals. These mentors not only generously shared the wealth of their knowledge and techniques, but above all their wisdom, integrity and love for the trade. They are Chefs and friends that I will always honor and respect.”
With the strong believe that one must contribute to the community; Chef Cuerrier has been involved in numerous Culinary competitions, Inter Provincial Red Seal exam reviews and translation workshops. He is a member of the BC Chef’s Association, the Canadian Culinary Federation, the Vancouver Community College Professional Advisory Committee, Go2 Cook Program Advisory Committee and more recently Culinary Team Canada.