FOUNDER, LA TABLEE DES CHEFS
Jean-François Archambault is the Executive Director and Founder of La Tablée des Chefs. Passionate about the restaurant and hotel industry, he completed his hotel management training at the ITHQ in 1997. At the time, Jean-François did not wear his chef’s hat, as he began a business career as a sales representative in the hotel industry.
However, he had a dream to create a movement among chefs and pastry cooks in Quebec to feed the underprivileged. With his dream in mind, he continued to work hard and with dedication, until a tragic event – his mother’s passing – changed his life deeply. This sad event affected him greatly and he was forced to question and reflect on his options. That’s when he decided to pursue his dream and, in 2000, he founded what would eventually become La Tablée des Chefs, an organization encouraging chefs, cooks and confectioners in Quebec to community involvement.
Then, Jean-François began spending all his free time on this project, while still working as the Sales and Marketing Director for the Marriott hotel chain in Montreal. In 2006, because of his project’s growth, he left his job to devote himself fulltime to the management and development of La Tablée des Chefs.
A social entrepreneur at heart, he believes chefs have an incredible ability to come together and help young people fight poverty by sharing their culinary knowledge with them in order to break the poverty cycle. The ultimate goal is to prevent these underprivileged kids from becoming new victims of hunger.
From there, everything quickly started to fall into place for him: he set up a food recovery program with some important establishments such as the Bell Centre, which provides more than 60,000 meals a year alone to people in need. In 2007, he was named Personality of the Week in La Presse/Radio-Canada. In June 2007, he founded the Taillevent culinary camp, which enables more than 475 underprivileged kids from all over Quebec to enjoy a culinary workshop vacation with the support of Ricardo Larrivée, a famous chef as the Honorary Chair.
He then launched the Ateliers du Frère Toc workshops offered in 16 public high schools in Quebec. The program now reaches the teenagers under child protection and is given in 16 regions of Quebec to over 500 teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19. This is the time just before the government is no longer responsible for them and they have to take care of themselves without any culinary knowledge. These workshops aim to develop culinary independence among troubled youth.
In 2008, Jean-François was named Young Socially Responsible Business Leader of the year in Quebec and received the Arista award from the Montreal Young Board of Trade. He was then a finalist in the Quebec Social Entrepreneur of the Year category of the Ernst & Young 2009 Entrepreneur of the Year awards. The same year he was named Fellow of the prestigious ASHOKA movement, which unites leading social entrepreneurs from around the world, he is now the Executive Director for Ashoka Quebec. In 2010, the Commerce Magazine named him amongst 12 top audacious leaders including Geoff Molson (Executive VP Molson Coors and CEO of Montreal Canadiens), Pierre Beaudoin (CEO of Bombardier) and Monique Leroux (CEO of Desjardins). With this recognition, he hopes it will draw enough attention towards his mission to mobilize important partners and philanthropists to help him create a sustainable organization to fight hunger.
Finally, last November after a TED Talk in Toronto to present La Tablée des Chefs, he flew back to Miami where he received a philanthropic prize of 100 000$ to develop the food recovery program in Mexico and the Americas through the ABC Foundation – Americas Business Council.
Jean-François is dedicated fulltime to his burgeoning organization’s development. Most of Quebec’s biggest names on the culinary scene are also involved, on a daily basis, including Normand Laprise from Toqué restaurant who is a spokesperson for La Tablée des Chefs, Patrice Demers from Patrice Pâtissier and Ricardo Larrivée, Honorary Chair for La Tablée des Chefs. La Tablée des Chefs has now two cooking schools in Montreal and Longueuil for the general public and foodies in order to support the organization’s growth through workshops and culinary summer camps. The organization produced two cook books through Transcontinental publishing and is currently working on a third one with ten top chefs in Quebec. Jean-François has three beautiful daughters; Daphnée, Delphine and Noémie. They are very open to new flavours and cooking!