Stratford ~ Rene’s Bistro ~ A Team in Life for Life!
by Judi "Scoop" McWilliams, Festival Nomad Correspondent
"Rene at work in his kitchen."
We were fortunate to spend some extra quality of time with restaurant enthusiasts, Rene and Margaret. Margaret says Rene is “the Star” and he most likely will tell you that. But he did not. Rene shared with us his joy and delight of working side by side with Margaret, who shows her own talents of artwork on the wall of the Bistro. They both are very talented people and are equally proud of each other. The meal we enjoyed was prepared by Chef René Delafranier, who was featured on the Food Network series “Fink,” and is a graduate of the Stratford Chefs School. Rene’s offers traditional favourites ranging from homemade focaccia, Poulet Chasseur, Orange Roughy as Cartoccio, amazing polentas, crème bruleé and more. Our meals were outstanding, a photo doesn’t really capture the favours and textures that we enjoyed. Both Margaret and Rene like to travel the world (when they can get away) and discover new techniques, cuisines. They are star “tea semolina’s” and make their own teas. There is an International Tea Masters Association, the Gold Standard in tea education that offers ITMA Tea Mastery Certification. Apparently there are only 14 “tea semolina’s” in the world. The Stratford chef school helped inspire Rene from the start. Here’s the scoop, Rene was a freelance writer travelling the world, to Rome, Paris, France with 10 students. His first passion was in sports broadcasting. The Festival Nomad and Rene soon struck up a conversation that left both Margaret and I wondering what they were talking about (football I think). Margaret went to art school where she learned some of the talents that she shares with customers today. The “behind the scenes” tour of the kitchen caught us off guard. One, it was immaculately clean (they had just finished serving a busy night in the Bistro). And Two, it was tiny. Rene says that the 3 main chefs all stand beside one another, like clockwork, ticking together in harmony to get these amazing exquisite tastes and meals out to the customers. The tour of the basement revealed many photographs of the “stars and celebrities’” that have graced their company over the years. Each photo carefully framed antique frames, Rene’s mothers old photos from days gone are here also. The entire experience was incredible as these truly genuine folks welcomed us with such wonderful hospitality, fine food and an experience to remember for a long time!