Amine Laabi, leader of all challenges

Amine Laabi did not win The leaders! nevertheless, he emerges as the winner of the popular culinary competition. With his energy and positive attitude, he enchanted viewers and showmakers alike. “You’re a real favorite for the whole team,” said host Élyse Marquis at the time of her exit. The press wanted to know more about his journey.

Posted at 11:00 am

Veronique Larocque

Veronique Larocque
The press

Amine Laabi thrives on challenges. It might sound cliche, but that’s exactly what emerges from the hour-long interview the 29-year-old chef gave The press. “I’m always like this in life. When I stagnate, I have to move on to the next step,” he says, sitting at a table near the communal kitchen at Gentile Pizza Parlor and Gentile Café, where he has worked for the past three years.

Accustomed to cooking up lavish dishes at this Westmount Italian eatery, Amine Laabi was looking for a way to step out of his comfort zone. “I’ve always dreamed of being a gourmet cook,” reveals the man, who has already completed a three-week course at the renowned Maison Boulud. This wish gave rise to the idea of ​​preparing for the 11the output from bosses!.


PHOTO MARCO CAMPANOZZI, THE PRESS

Amine Laabi, in an interview

I said to myself, I’ll either ruin my career or I’ll blow it up!

Amine Laabi

“Can you really harm your career by participating in this show? ‘ we ask him. After all, if you’re selected, you’ll be one of “Quebec’s best up-and-coming chefs,” as Élyse Marquis has said all season.

Amine Laabi admits he was afraid to do “some bullshit” in front of the cameras. His impressive run to the final showed his fears were unfounded. With four wins, he is the candidate who has won the most challenges.

“I questioned myself very, very much. […] When I went there, I told myself I had to stop putting negative ideas in my head and just trust myself, follow my instincts and do what I love,” says the one who “ very proud” of his career is the competition and his fourth place.

“The feedback from the chefs has really made me grow,” he continues. It was impossible for me to surprise chefs like that. Even I was surprised. »

A defining moment

In episode 6, the land and sea (and mushroom) challenge gave her more confidence in her talent. With meat and fish imposed but few restrictions, this event was, in his eyes, the moment to shine.

“I figured if there’s anything to prove, it’s today. »

That evening he took the top spot. “It was unanimous. We enjoyed your dishes,” said Judge Isabelle Deschamps Plante at the time of the sentencing.

“It was the event where you had to stand out and I made it,” enthuses the energetic young man.

“I showed mine capabilities chef and cook. In this episode I proved that I am more than capable. For me, this is my greatest achievement in The leaders!. »

In the finale, the Laval-raised Moroccan decided to pay homage to Quebec by using boreal flavors. Did that decision cost him the win? “I could have done a Moroccan menu if I wanted, but it wasn’t a challenge for me. I’m in the final bosses !. I’m not here to do what I can. I’m here to show I’m capable of surpassing myself,” he replies, calm at the turn of this ultimate challenge. “I didn’t have a good day,” admits the chef.

less experience

It is worth remembering that Amine Laabi had only a few years of cooking experience compared to other candidates.

While his dream of a food career germinated in sixth grade after schoolwork on nutrition, it wasn’t until he was 25 that he enrolled in a culinary school.

After fifth grade, he began working in shoe and clothing stores and worked his way up. “I was in a company where I could grow and earn a very good salary,” he says. Until the moment when he stopped feeling fulfilled at 25.

Ready for a new challenge, he enrolled in culinary school… just as he had promised his mother many times since high school.


PHOTO MARCO CAMPANOZZI, THE PRESS

Final touch for the cooked recipe The press

Café Gentile, where he still works, was the first place he got an opportunity. “I had an extraordinary chef who taught me a lot and I’m grateful to him,” he says of his colleague Nelson Maceira.

The following ?

The show The leaders! finished, what will be the sequel for Amine Laabi? “I don’t really know what’s going to happen to me. I am open for everything. In particular, he wants to continue sharing his culinary knowledge with the public through his social networks. He also recently joined Radio-Canada’s Brigade Mordu. Later he would like to do internships abroad in gastronomic establishments.

Whatever his plans, the public will surely continue to follow him. The chef is still surprised by the wave of love from the audience. “Honestly, I never thought I would have such a strong comeback. It’s huge! I still can not believe it. »

Five gourmet questions for Amine Laabi

For dessert, to end the interview nicely, The press has put together a small gourmet questionnaire for this cooking enthusiast.

1. What is his favorite food to cook? Fishes.

2. Your biggest source of inspiration in the kitchen? “This is Pierre Gagnaire, a French star chef. A cooking legend. The team of bosses! brought me a video of Pierre Gagnaire cheering me for the final and I cried. It’s my idol. […] The video was not shown because it was received after filming. »

3. The dish that makes life difficult for him? Cacio e Pepe. “It’s an Italian dish. It’s literally cheese, water and pasta, but it’s the most difficult dish to execute for me. I almost never make it, even if it’s easy. »

4. Sweet or salty? Dirty. “I hardly eat any sugar. […] I love making desserts but I don’t eat them. »

5. His Sweet Sin? ‘A smoked meat poutine from Dunn’s. »

Recipe: Spicy Shrimp with Yellow Tomato, Parsley Couscous and Bruschetta


PHOTO MARCO CAMPANOZZI, THE PRESS

Spicy shrimp with yellow tomato, parsley couscous and bruschetta

A simple, good, colorful dish to enjoy “on the patio with a glass of white wine.” This is how Amine Laabi describes the recipe that he would like to share with the readers of The press. With its summery twist, it’s one of the new items on the Gentile Café menu.

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients for couscous

  • 1 cup of couscous
  • 2 TBSP. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 cup of boiling water

Ingredients for the shrimp

  • 8 king prawns, halved lengthways
  • 1 cup yellow tomato coulis*
  • 1 C. Olive Oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 fresh chili, cut diagonally
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 TBSP. White wine

Ingredients for the bruschetta

  • 2 yellow heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 French shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 TBSP. olive oil
  • 1 c. chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Flower of Salt

Couscous preparation

  • Mix together the olive oil and parsley with a hand mixer.
  • In a bowl, stir the olive oil and parsley mixture into the couscous.
  • Season with salt and pour boiling water over the couscous. Cover for 5 minutes.
  • Fluff the couscous with a fork and place in the fridge.

Preparation of the shrimp

  • In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil and sauté the shrimp for 2 minutes.
  • Add garlic and fresh chili. Sweat for a few seconds.
  • Deglaze with white wine, then reduce by half.
  • Add the tomato coulis and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Prepare bruschetta

  • Dice the tomatoes.
  • Mix with the remaining ingredients.

Assembly

  • In an oval plate, add a line of couscous.
  • Place 4 shrimp halves on the couscous and pour a teaspoon of sauce over the shrimp.
  • Add bruschetta and a pinch of fleur de sel.

*The yellow tomato coulis can be found at delicatessen stores or can be substituted for a red tomato coulis.

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