Executive Chef Jean-Francois Fortin's Biography
Chef Fortin has been cooking professionally for more than Fifteen years and thrives through testing himself to reach new heights and taking on new challenges all over Canada. Having moved back and forth between Québec, Alberta and New Brunswick during his culinary career, Chef Fortin finally responded to his calling as Executive Chef at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in September 2016. He has taken the lead at the hotel’s restaurants; Fairview, Walliser Stube, Lago Italian Kitchen, Poppy Brasserie, Lakeview Lounge, Alpine Social and the Chateau Deli, as well as overseeing banquets, in-room dining and all food and beverage operations at the hotel.
Born and raised in Québec and intrigued by the outdoor mecca that Banff National Park is world-renowned for, Chef Fortin packed his bags at the ripe age of 18 and flew west. Finding work in a small hotel in Canmore, Chef Fortin met a chef that left him fascinated with the culinary world. From here, his full-fledge passion for creating good food began to grow and flourish.
Upon graduating from the Culinary School at Fierbourg technical college in Québec in 1998, Chef Fortin accepted a culinary internship at Le Chateau Frontenac. With the drive to keep growing, he later moved on to become a Sous Chef at L’Intimiste, a fine dining restaurant in Québec.
“Learning the fine dining aspect was an invaluable experience. It taught me so much about the independent restaurant world but I knew my heart was truly in the hotel industry,” says Fortin.
In 2006, Chef Fortin continued to pursue positions at an array of Fairmont resorts across Canada. He has held positions including Sous Chef, Restaurant Chef, Executive-Sous Chef and Executive Chef at Le Chateau Frontenac, Jasper Park Lodge, the Algonquin in St-Andrews by the Sea and Le Chateau Montebello. The keys to Chef Fortin’s success has always been surrounding himself with talented people and diving passionately into his position. In 2013 at Le Chateau Montebello, Chef Fortin won Leader of the Year, one of his proudest achievements to date.
“I had said to myself, I need to be a chef by the time I’m 35 years old but I was already there by the time I was 31.” This is a testament to Chef Fortin’s innate motivation and desire to succeed.
Chef Fortin found himself continually wanting to grow within Fairmont. “If you follow my career path, you will see that I am attracted to wonderful resorts that not only have charm and appeal but take their food and beverage offering seriously. The chance to showcase culinary creations to a wide array of guests excites me,” comments Chef Fortin. “I am really excited to be working at such a successful hotel where there’s a great sense of culture that you don’t always see at some properties.”
Chef Fortin brings a unique Québec flair, passion for good food and culinary innovation to Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. Here, his culinary team prepares approximately one million meals a year, averaging to 3,000 per day and up to 5,000 per day in the summer months. With a passion for providing guests with an authentically local and sustainable dining experience, Chef Fortin aspires to build strong relationships with regional farmers, artisans and purveyors and make long-lasting contributions to Lake Louise and the Bow Valley.
When he’s not in the kitchen, Chef Fortin spends time with his wife Marie-Pierre and two sons, Thomas-Xavier (14) and Felix-Edward (12). “My kids share my passion. They love to come out and meet new producers with me, taste the local products and learn more about how they are cultivated - it is a family affair,” says Chef Fortin. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without their ongoing support.”