The chef and owner of Pastaga, Martin Juneau, puts his grain of sand in the menu… of Benny&Co. At the request of the Quebec steakhouse chain, which is embarking on a more “gastronomic” shift, the high-profile restaurateur has designed a fried chicken burger recipe, which recently hit the menu. This type of association, which may seem surprising, is nonetheless commonplace, according to an advertising expert.
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“The idea of completely associating ourselves with a chain, we still haven’t arrived. But it’s part of my DNA, making burgers. People don’t seem to expect that. I think that’s the basis”, Martin Juneau answers right away, when asked in an interview about this collaboration between the Pastaga chef and fast food, which could surprise more than one.
However, this is not the first time that Martin Juneau has added his name to the fries-hamburger tandem. In 2013, he appeared in a McDonald’s ad – which caused a stir – where he sampled a jalapeno burger and praised its merits.
“At the time, my La Montée de Lait restaurant was closing. I had all the creditors who were on my back. There was this offer that allowed me to fix everything at once. I had nothing to do with the development of that burger. It looked like it was going to be okay, but it caused a ruckus. People were under the impression that I was a “sellout,” she recalls. I have no problem talking about it, I fully assume my choices. »
This time, with Benny&Co., the situation is completely different, says Martin Juneau. “We are talking about a Quebec chain that creates jobs in Quebec, that promotes Quebec products, and we are asking a Quebecois to develop a hamburger. »
Although his economic situation is not the same as it was then, he frankly adds that “in life we always need money”. The restaurateur explains that the contracts he makes outside of Pastaga are reflected in his restaurant, which allows it to remain open in 2022.
Notoriety and gastronomy
As for Benny&Co., we do not hide that this collaboration with Martin Juneau will bring “notoriety to the hamburger”. We do not close the door to the idea of asking the chef again. “We have been working on a fried chicken burger for a year. One thing leads to another, we thought we needed someone creative,” explains Vincent Samuel Cabana, director of supply and retail, whom we met in Old Montreal at one of the newer restaurant chains.
With a plate of fried chicken burger with fries – it sells for $15 while the average plate is around $13 – a new concept of a restaurant where you can sit down for a drink and a partnership with a famous chef, the chain Benny&Co. Is there a more gastronomic twist? “Of course, this transition has been underway for quite a few years,” replies Marc-Antoine Benny, Vice President of Supply, also present during the interview. Chicken thighs and breasts will always be the heart of the business. We must ask ourselves what we can have to complete our offer. The dish created by Martin Juneau will be on the menu throughout the summer.
The goal is to stand out, to stand out, adds the company whose company will open six new restaurants by the end of the year. The chain currently has 70 stores in Quebec and 2 in Ontario. According to him, the clients of Benny&Co. are willing to pay $15 for the famous burger. And the strategy is, above all, not to offer more expensive dishes in order to have better profit margins, even if times are difficult, says Marc-Antoine Benny.
work for a channel
In addition, this type of alliance between renowned chefs and chains is not new. Louis-François Marcotte, chef, cookbook author and TV show host, worked as VP Branding & Innovation at La Cage – Brasserie sportive, between 2014 and 2020. His contract is now up, but he remains on good terms with the company, assures the main interested party.
During his visit to La Cage, he went through the menu from top to bottom. “Everything had to be redone,” she says over the phone. The opportunity to rebuild was enormous. The challenge was very big. »
“We were talking about very standardized things, prepared in the factory, which were then reheated,” he illustrates. I told them, “We’ll stop buying jarred vinaigrette, we’ll make it. It doesn’t change anything in the menus. Little by little we were rebuilding a culture. »
Louis-François Marcotte acknowledges that being associated with a chain could undermine his credibility.
There was a risk. But I told myself that if I did my job well, the game was worth it.
Louis Francois Marcotte
“The only danger that awaited me was being a tablet, admits who is currently working on three new projects. I have to have all kinds of opportunities. »
According to Stéphane Mailhiot, president of the Havas Montréal advertising agency, the designers, artists or chefs summoned by companies for their notoriety must be able to “transfer credibility”.
“Martin Juneau, for example, has great culinary credibility and will carry over to the brand. The perception of the brand can also translate to its credibility. The question is, which is stronger? »
“The idea of going to an expert to transfer your credibility to a branded product is noticeable in all industries,” he adds, referring to IKEA and H&M that have called on renowned designers. And the idea that it’s uncomfortable for the people who assess credibility, the other chefs, the other artists or the other designers, is also common. »
Benny and company shortly
- First family restaurant opened in 1960
- 72 branches in Ontario and Quebec
- 2,200 employees
- Headquarters located in Bois-des-Filion
- Sells over 9 million rotisserie chicken meals a year
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