Offering tasty meals for one or more
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This article was published 29/04/2021 (767 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The exterior sign at 996 St. Mary’s Rd. might read ‘CJL Specialty Catering’, but it has been home base for Les Filles Cuisine for the past few years.
Les Filles Cuisine is a full-service catering company run by co-owners Denys Curle and Michelle Walker, both of whom grew up in St. Vital. Curle is a Red Seal chef who provides the culinary expertise while Walker has a background in finance so looks after that side of the business. The women have worked together for the past six years after meeting on a movie set.
Walker said her husband Corey works in Manitoba’s film industry. After she left her job as a financial planner in 2005, she began offering food service on movie sets. When she met Curle, she asked her why she wasn’t operating a catering business, and soon Les Filles Cuisine was launched.
Curle said she hadn’t originally intended to become a chef. In fact, she was pursuing a master’s degree in geology when she decided to change her career path and train at Stratford Chefs School in Ontario.
“I’ve always cooked and worked in kitchens,” she said, adding that she chose this school because its training is based on classic French cuisine.
After graduation and a short stint working in Ontario, Curle returned to her hometown. She has worked in several local restaurants, but it was when she was employed at 17 Wing Winnipeg air force base, preparing meals for up to 200 members at a time, that she realized catering could be a business opportunity.
Walker said that, like all businesses in the hospitality industry, Les Filles Cuisine has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There are no funerals, no weddings to cater,” she said, estimating that their sales have fallen by about 65 per cent in the past year.
Thankfully the Manitoba film industry has remained active for most of the pandemic and that, along with government grants, have helped her and Curle stay afloat.
Another change within the past year has been the partners’ greater reliance on selling individual-sized frozen meals to keep money coming in. They offer a range of entrees such as stuffed chicken breast, roast turkey, southern fried chicken and pulled pork on a bun. They have a buy three, get one free offer that is popular with local residents.
Curle said many of their regular customers are seniors and she tries to prepare meals that will appeal to them.
“Curry doesn’t move as well as roast beef,” she joked.
At the same time, Walker said, the pandemic-related slowdown in business has allowed them to try some new menu items such as seafood and Asian-inspired dishes. “We’ve just gotten a bit more creative.”
Larger servings of frozen foods such as tourtière, shepherd’s pie and cabbage rolls are also available. A variety of full meals can be pre-ordered with free delivery. Curle and Walker sold special meal packages at Valentine’s Day and Easter, and now have a Mother’s Day special featuring stuffed chicken breast or salmon with rice pilaf, vegetables, soup or salad and dessert.
Walker said that, with restrictions on restaurant dining, some people feel more comfortable sharing a well-prepared meal at home.
They are hoping that the number of people permitted to gather for celebrations will increase in the coming months, and Walker said they have a number of catering dates for summer weddings tentatively booked.
For more information on Les Filles Cuisine, see lesfillescuisine.ca
Andrea Geary is a community correspondent for St. Vital. Email her at email@example.com
St. Vital community correspondent
Andrea Geary is a community correspondent for St. Vital and was once the community journalist for The Headliner.