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French Chef Liyna Boucher Discusses Food and Creativity

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Liyna Boucher is an accomplished French chef based out of Vancouver, British Columbia. Growing up in France, Liyna spent much of her time in the kitchen with her grand-mère. Watching her grandparents cook at an early age and eventually learning their ways inspired Liyna to become a professional chef. After completing culinary school and spending years perfecting her craft in her home country, Liyna immigrated to Canada in the mid-2010s with her husband and two children to follow her dream of opening her own restaurant and bringing her family’s traditional French recipes to Vancouver.

Just a few years after arriving in Canada, Liyna made her dream a reality. She opened her first French restaurant in Burnaby, British Columbia. Liyna Boucher’s restaurant was an instant hit and became quickly well-known among locals. On the heels of success, she decided to expand and opened a second location in downtown Vancouver.

Today, Liyna Boucher owns and operates two restaurants in the Vancouver area, with the hopes of expanding even further. Liyna has built her restaurant brand around the idea of family. Her restaurants boast a warm and welcoming atmosphere — the kind of dining experience you would expect at a family dinner. Patrons come from far and wide for a taste of her culinary genius and the delicious family recipes that are so dear to her heart.

Liyna Boucher is also actively involved in the French community in Vancouver. When travel is permitted, she regularly takes trips to Montreal and France to explore new culinary ideas. Boucher aspires to combine the French and Canadian cuisines together to build a whole new taste palate.

  1. Where did the idea for your career come from?

I’ve known that I wanted to own a restaurant since I was a little girl. Growing up, I was always in the kitchen with my grandparents. They taught me everything they knew about cooking, including all of our secret family recipes. I loved being in the kitchen with them and having that connection with my loved ones. Once I was old enough, I attended culinary school. After graduating, my goal was to move to Canada and open a restaurant. It’s only natural that my restaurant serves the French food that my family and I adore.

  1. How do you make your day productive?

My typical day involves shopping, cooking, and managing my restaurants. Each morning I get up and head down to my location in downtown Vancouver — that’s where my office is. I check my emails, schedule any tasks for the day, and look to see if any special guests will be coming into either of our locations. Then I normally head to a market to pick up a few local ingredients for specialty dishes. When I return, I’ll usually help prepare food for the opening. Then, depending on where I’m needed, I move between locations to help cook, serve, and mingle with guests. I love what I do, so it’s not hard to stay productive and on track. I also set monthly and yearly goals for my restaurants, which helps keep me motivated with activities like marketing and hiring.

  1. How do you bring ideas to life?

Sometimes I get inspired ideas — new concepts for dishes to serve or even marketing ideas. To bring them to life, I always start by recreating them on a small scale. If I come up with a new dish, I’ll try cooking it. I’ll taste it myself then maybe make it for a friend or my family. Once I know that I’m on to something good, I go to my chefs. From there, we work together to bring the idea to our menu.

  1. What’s a trend that excites you?

I really love what’s happening right now with fusion food. Chefs and people at home are getting creative with the food they’re making, incorporating different cultures and styles into a single dish. I love the creativity behind this, and I hope that this trend will continue in the culinary industry. I think French food offers many opportunities to incorporate creative ideas into traditional dishes. After all, French cuisine is a collective art, with each generation adding something new to the dishes we all know and love.

  1. What is one habit that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Getting up early and going into the office before anyone else arrives helps me to be more productive. When I have time alone in the morning I can get a lot done. I also find that going to the markets helps with productivity too. It’s a fun task and it gives me a chance to relax and clear my mind as I focus on beautiful, fresh ingredients. Not to mention, browsing the markets and seeing new, seasonal ingredients is always helpful for sparking ideas for new dishes.

  1. What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t be afraid to get creative. Growing up in the kitchen and learning how to cook from my grandparents, I just always followed their methods and recipes. I loved their food and still do, but I think a lot can come out of being creative in the kitchen. It wasn’t until later in life that I started to try new things — adding new flavours here and there, mixing dishes in new and creative ways. Looking back now, I wish I would have started sooner — who knows what I might have come up with as a kid full of imagination. 

  1. What do most people disagree with you on?

Brussels sprouts are underrated. I know a lot of people don’t like brussels sprouts, but when they’re done right or incorporated into the right dish, they can be an amazing and delicious ingredient. If you don’t believe me, come down to one of my restaurants and I’ll prove it to you!

  1. What is the one thing you do and recommend everyone else do?

I dine at a different restaurant every time I eat out. This is a bit specific to my industry, but I do recommend that entrepreneurs visit other establishments in their field. You can learn a lot from others. The way they do business, what products they offer, and more. For me, I like to see what interesting dishes are on a restaurant’s menu, what their atmosphere is like and what unique features their location might have. I’ll talk to the servers and ask what the most popular dishes are and try those as well. Trying out new cuisines helps me to be more creative and to stay on top of local trends.

  1. What is one tactic that has helped you grow your business?

Being involved with the French and European communities in Vancouver has really helped me get the word out about my restaurants. This was especially helpful in the beginning when I first opened up in Burnaby. Although it wasn’t my intention to make business connections at community events, it just so happened that way. Not only did I find new customers who helped spread the word about my restaurant, but I also came across a few people with who I do business now — local vendors and even marketing experts. It’s been a great experience being part of a community and has really helped me with my business.

  1. What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur?

When I first moved to Vancouver, I hoped to open a French restaurant downtown. With the help of some friends that I met through the international community who own restaurants in Vancouver, I discovered that it would not be feasible to start with a location downtown. This wasn’t necessarily a failure, but it could have been. It proved to me how valuable advice from others is, especially those who have already done what you are hoping to do. It saved me from losing a lot of money and time. Although I had to change my goals slightly, it was a good learning experience. 

  1. What is the best $100 you recently spent?

I recently bought a subscription to an at-home exercise app. I had never considered something like it before. I like to keep active and normally I would go to some sort of class at the gym. But, being unable to go in person, this program has allowed me to stay active in the comfort of my own home.

  1. What is one piece of software that helps you be productive?

My chefs and I have found that Google Drive and the docs specifically are great for storing and sharing new ideas and even shopping lists. I love the concept of being able to keep new menu item ideas and recipes all in one place where everyone can view them and make changes. It saves us the hassle of going back and forth with all this information — we can just sign in and everything is right there.

  1. What is the one book that you recommend?

One of my favourites is Le Père Goriot by Honoré de Balzac. It is a historical piece written by one of the most famous French writers. It is a heavy read, but it does highlight one really important lesson- money can’t buy you happiness.

  1. What is your favorite quote?

Something I heard growing up and that always has a place in the back of my mind is a French saying — Petit à petit l’oiseau fait son nid. It has the same connotation as saying something like, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. The direct translation is, “little by little, the bird builds its nest”, so it highlights that patience and persistence are the key to doing any task, whether it is hard or easy.

CEO of Penske Media Group. Experienced Content Editor with a demonstrated history of working in the newspaper industry. Spoken on stages around the globe - NYU, US Embassy, P&G Toronto, and much more.

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