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International chefs broaden horizons of students at Stratford Chefs School

Chef Alexandre Gauthier of La Grenouille�re restaurant in La Madelaine-sous-Montreuil, France, is shown on a previous visit to the Stratford Chefs School in Stratford, Ont. He visits the school Jan. 21-25. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO

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Chef Alexandre Gauthier of La Grenouille�re restaurant in La Madelaine-sous-Montreuil, France, is shown on a previous visit to the Stratford Chefs School in Stratford, Ont. He visits the school Jan. 21-25. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO

STRATFORD, Ont. - An innovative French chef will share his expertise with students at Stratford Chefs School when he visits this week.

Alexandre Gauthier of La Grenouillere has earned a Michelin star and was designated "one to watch" on Restaurant magazine's World's 50 Best Restaurants list in 2012. He also has three Gault Millau toques, a rating system founded in 1965 by two French restaurant critics, Henri Gault and Christian Millau. (In updated rules, establishments cannot receive more than five caps.)

Gauthier is to be accompanied by the maitre d'hotel and pastry chef from his restaurant in La Madelaine-sous-Montreuil, in the countryside about 250 kilometres north of Paris, the school said in a release.

Kaya Ogruce, a chef instructor at Stratford Chefs School, worked with Gauthier for more than a year and said La Grenouillere's kitchen was "a laboratory of ideas."

"Everything was influenced by our surroundings, our terroir. Every detail of our work was a reflection of the endless variety of greens, the damp earthiness of the rain, wild game, and the smell of the sea. He transformed the cuisine of northern France into something provocative and revolutionary," she said in the release.

Last week, another international chef designed dinners at the Prune restaurant, which turns over its facility to students from the school during the winter.

Ben Shewry of Attica Restaurant in Melbourne, Australia, ranked No. 21 on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list, who like Gauthier is making a return visit, also creates dishes based on foraged ingredients.

He used snow brought in from the garden to make a dessert that was served with warm maple whisky sauce. Shewry also sent students out to scrounge in the deep snow for pine needles to add flavour to a cocktail.

The school, which marked its 30th anniversary last year, relies on local, Canadian and international chefs to expand students' knowledge. Program director Meg Westley notes that these chefs provide students a chance to see the range of culinary approaches they may want to pursue in their careers.

The Stratford Chefs School will be serving dinner menus created by Gauthier from Tuesday through Saturday. Call 519-271-1414 for reservations.

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