Liyna Boucher was born in France into a large, close-knit family. Growing up in France, she spent endless hours in the kitchen with her grand-mère, learning how to cook the recipes that had been passed down through her family for generations. Liyna Boucher attended culinary school in France and worked at several restaurants as a young adult. Although she loved working as a chef in different restaurants, mastering all types of cuisine, she dreamed of one day opening her own restaurant so that she could share her family’s recipes with the world.
In the mid-2010s, Liyna Boucher immigrated to Canada to begin pursuing this goal. When she first arrived, Liyna worked at a well-known restaurant in Vancouver, where she learned the ins and outs of the restaurant industry in Canada.
After working as a professional chef in Vancouver, Liyna Boucher opened her first restaurant in Burnaby, a city just outside of Vancouver. The cozy French restaurant saw quick success and eventually led to the opening of a second location in downtown Vancouver. Today, Liyna manages and cooks at both of her restaurants. She focuses on offering customers traditional French dishes, along with fusion-inspired options for those who are a bit more adventurous.
Liyna Boucher is also involved in the local European community. She regularly contributes by
helping to organize and oversee events, as well as donating some of her famous French pastries as a catering option.
Why did you decide to open a restaurant?
I’ve wanted to open a restaurant ever since I can remember. I’ve worked as a professional chef in several restaurants, but it’s always been my goal to have my own place where I could share my family’s recipes with the world.
What do you love most about the culinary industry?
I love the endless opportunities to be creative. Some chefs stick to the classic dishes and cooking styles that they know. But, if you’re willing to be creative, the industry will definitely reward you. In this time of technology and social media, the more creative you can be with your food, the better. I love that that’s possible. There are too many industries that don’t allow for creativity, so I feel lucky to be involved in such an imaginative profession.
How do you motivate others?
I’ve heard many stories about restaurant owners struggling to motivate their employees. In my mind, it’s all about feeling valued. If your employees feel appreciated, they’ll work harder and be more motivated to do well. So, what that looks like in my restaurants is monthly meetings where we discuss what’s working, what’s not, and any ideas that the staff have. I think that involving my staff in decision-making and asking for their opinions and ideas is very helpful in making them feel valued. We also get a lot of great ideas this way. Above all, I’m always sure to compliment my staff when they are performing well and to thank them for the hard work they do — sometimes just with words, but, when the restaurants do well, with monetary bonuses as well. So far, these methods have helped me to maintain a solid group of key staff that are amazing at what they do.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from my family — especially my grandparents. They may be gone now, but I feel like they’re with me every time I go into the kitchen to cook the dishes that they have inspired. I grew up watching them work hard and I try my best every day to live up to that diligence.
Who has been a role model to you and why?
My grand-mère has always been my role model. If I can be half the woman she was, I will consider myself a success. She raised five children and, even with little money, managed to make her family amazing meals and create a happy and loving home. As a grandmother, she continued with these traditions. She taught me everything I know about cooking and I thank God for that every day.
What traits do you possess that make you a successful leader?
I’m a doer. I think that helps me to be a good leader because I end up leading by example. People don’t respect the boss that shows up to work late and leaves early just because they can. They value someone who works as hard, or harder, than they do and who practices what they preach. By being a go-getter I’m able to show my employees what it looks like to work hard so they don’t feel that I am taking advantage of them when I ask for their best.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to other chefs?
I would tell any aspiring chef to follow their dreams. Yes, it’s a hard road — lots of long days and criticism can be expected no matter how good you are. But, even when those things stand in your way just take them as they come. Learn from every experience, good or bad, and keep pushing forward. If you have an idea — run with it.
Where do you see you and your company in 5 years?
My dreams have already been far exceeded with the opening of my second restaurant. But, now, my goals are even higher. In the next five years, I hope to open an additional restaurant in Vancouver. This one I would like to focus solely on French fusion food. I think it would be an exciting venture and a great outlet for my creative energy.
Explain the proudest day of your professional life.
The proudest day of my life was when I watched them hang the sign over the entrance of my first restaurant. That was the first time in my life that I felt I truly made my grandparents proud. Although they couldn’t be there with me, I know they were looking down smiling and gloating to their friends about my accomplishment.
What is your favourite dish on your menu and why?
I love all of the dishes on our menu, but my favourite is the bouillabaisse. This classic French dish was inspired by my grand-père. I’m honoured to be able to share it with patrons in my restaurants. I feel like he would be so proud to see his dish on a menu. Every time I eat it, I think of him and his great smile and positive attitude. No matter what’s going on in my life, when I take a bite of that soup it turns my day around.