The chef and owner of Pastaga, Martin Juneau adds his grain of salt to the menu… of Benny&Co. At the request of the Quebec rotisserie chain, which is embarking on a more “gastronomic” shift, the high-profile restaurateur has designed a fried chicken burger recipe, which has recently arrived on the menu. This type of association, which may seem surprising, is nevertheless commonplace, according to an advertising expert.
Posted at 6:00 a.m.
“The idea of associating completely with a chain, we are not there yet. But it’s part of my DNA, making burgers. Looks like people don’t expect that. I think that’s the basis,” replies Martin Juneau straight away, when asked in an interview about this collaboration between the chef of Pastaga and fast food, which could surprise more than one.
However, this is not the first time that Martin Juneau has attached his name to the fries-burger tandem. In 2013, he appeared in a McDonald’s ad – which caused a stir – where he tasted a jalapeño burger and praised its merits.
“At the time, my restaurant La Montée de Lait was closing. I had all the creditors who were on my back. There was this offer that allowed me to settle 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 an uproar. People had the impression that I was a “sold”, he recalls. I have no problem talking about it, I completely 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, which promotes Quebec products, and we are asking a Quebecer to develop a burger. »
Although his financial 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 Pastaga reflect on his restaurant, allowing it to still be open in 2022.
Notoriety and gastronomy
As for Benny&Co., we do not hide the fact that this collaboration with Martin Juneau will bring “notoriety to the burger”. We don’t close the door on the idea of asking the chef again. “We’ve been working on a fried chicken burger for a year. One thing leading to another, we thought we needed someone creative,” explains Vincent Samuel Cabana, supply and retail director, whom we met in Old Montreal, in one of the newest restaurants chain.
With a plate of fried chicken burger with fries – sold for $15 while the average dish is around $13 – a new restaurant concept where you can sit down and have a drink and an association with a famous chef, the chain Benny&Co. does it take a more gastronomic turn? “Of course, this transition has been underway for quite a few years, answers Marc-Antoine Benny, vice-president of supply, also present during the interview. Chicken thighs and breasts will always remain 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 all summer long.
The goal is to stand out, to stand out, adds the one whose company will open six new restaurants by the end of the year. The chain currently has 70 establishments in Quebec and 2 in Ontario. According to him, customers of Benny&Co. are willing to pay $15 for the famous burger. And the strategy is above all not to offer more expensive dishes to have better profit margins, even if times are difficult, assures Marc-Antoine Benny.
Work for a channel
Moreover, this kind of partnership between well-known chefs and chains is not new. Louis-François Marcotte, chef, author of cookbooks and host of television programs, worked as vice-president of brand image and innovation for La Cage – Brasserie sportive, between 2014 and 2020. His contract is now over. , but he remains on good terms with the company, assures the main interested party.
During his visit to La Cage, he reviewed the menu from top to bottom. “Everything had to be redone,” he says on 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 said to them: “We will stop buying vinaigrette in a jar, we will make it. It doesn’t change anything in the menus. We were slowly rebuilding a culture. »
Louis-François Marcotte recognizes that being associated with a chain could undermine his credibility.
There was a risk. But I told myself that if I did my job properly, the game was worth the effort.
“The only danger that awaited me was to be tablet, admits the one who is currently working on three new projects. I have to have all kinds of opportunities. »
According to Stéphane Mailhiot, president of the advertising agency Havas Montréal, designers, artists or chefs called upon by companies for their notoriety must be able to “transfer credibility”.
“Martin Juneau, for example, has great culinary credibility and it will transfer to the brand. The perception of the brand can also be transferred to its credibility. The question is, which is stronger? »
“The idea of going for an expert to transfer your credibility to a branded product, it shows in all industries, he adds, referring to IKEA and H&M who have called on renowned designers . And the idea that it’s uncomfortable for the people who assess the credibility, the other chefs, the other artists or the other designers, it’s also common. »
Benny&Co. in short
- First family restaurant opened in 1960
- 72 branches in Ontario and Quebec
- 2200 employees
- Head office located in Bois-des-Filion
- Sells over 9 million roast chicken meals per year