Le Crocodile participated in Good France on March 21st, 2017 this year and I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to meet with Chef Michel Jacob, owner of the world renowned French restaurant. I waited at a beautiful long bar. The staff were incredibly friendly and efficient, asking if I had been taken care of or needed anything multiple times. The event’s focus is to celebrate French cuisine and 2000 chefs in 5 continents were involved. Chef Jacob was in Good France in 2015 and this isn’t his first run. French Consulate, Jean-Christophe Fleury, is the main organizer. The evening’s menu was sent to Paris in January and received acceptance based on guidelines such as using less fat, sugar and salt and making it French focused. “It is good PR,” said Chef Jacob who has been cooking for 46 years. But why was Le Crocodile chosen? Let’s start with Chef Jacob.
From when he was ten to twelve years old he cooked with his father. It was World War II and in Chef Jacob’s words, “You had to cook because you had to eat.” His father wanted to become a chef but couldn’t considering the climate. “You became a chef because I couldn’t be a chef,” he said to his son Michel. Fast forward to 1977 where Chef Jacob worked in Montreal for 3 years after moving from his hometown in Strasbourg. He then traveled to Vancouver in 1980 and opened up Le Crocodile in 1983. It immediately became a destination. Chef Rob Feenie worked as a first cook for him and Ned Bell, who did an apprenticeship, is currently head chef at the Four Seasons Hotel. Le Crocodile has now been up and running for 34 years.
The secret to it’s success is “consistency,” according to Chef Jacob. As a young apprentice he ate at Au Crocodile in Strasbourg, France. Chef Emile Jung explained his methodology and Chef Jacob was so inspired by the experience that he named his own restaurant “Le Crocodile.” Since then he has received much notoriety over the years. He has served such celebrities as Sean Penn, Quincy Jones, Robin Williams, Jimmy Fallon, and the King and Queen of Norway, but it’s his regulars that matter the most; “It’s not important about the movie stars it’s about the committed customers.” The Chef applies 99% French technique, and less butter and cream. Some items have been on the menu for 33 years. The problem with up and coming restaurants, in his opinion, is they change their menu and lack consistency. “It’s hard to repeat top notch food everyday. For example a singer has to be pitch perfect when they tour.” For Chef Jacob being trendy is not important; there’s no need for bells and whistles.
Although Chef Jacob is a French cook all his ingredients are locally sourced. He uses French technique and French style but uses ingredients from BC. As for the restaurant itself, there are 85 seats in the dining room. “You can wear Jeans and a dress shirt or a suit and tie.” Le Crocodile is warmly lit and has an open, welcoming layout. I found the staff to be incredibly friendly. There are beautiful floral displays, mirrors, and artwork. Chef Jacob offered Lobster Bisque which was topped with a dollop of creme fraiche and garnished with scallions. It was divine. The soup was smooth, silky, and creamy but not too rich and heavy. The lobster was delicately fragrant. I thoroughly enjoyed every spoonful. He told me that they roast off the shells and then create a stock which is reduced for four hours. Another example of patience paying off. Le Crocodile has a full house for the event. The menu is 6 courses and includes a cheese plate. I encourage you to take part in Good France next year, and relish in the food of a self-proclaimed “perfectionist.” Or why wait? Book now. With consistency as the key one can expect the same brilliance and excellence in culinary vision to come.
Thank you to the French Consulate for this series of the dishes served at #GoodFrance 2017 participating restaurant Le Crocodile.
Reviewed by: Fabina Rajwani