Following your true nature: riding the momentum with Camilo Lapointe-Nascimento

If you’re into the Quebec food scene, you’ve probably heard of Camilo Lapointe-Nascimento, who made a name for himself on TV competition shows like Les chefs! and Top Chef Canada, among others. This month, our team caught up with this rising star to learn more about his career path.

Weaving two passions together

You might be surprised to learn that cooking wasn’t always Camilo’s passion. “At first, it was biking. I did BMX with my friends in high school. We watched biking videos on YouTube and I started filming our sessions to record our best moves.”

“I eventually developed a passion for audiovisuals, I wanted to become a director. I started studying in this field, and looked for a job to finance my video projects.”

It was then that Camilo set foot in a professional kitchen for the first time. Soon after, he had a revelation.

“I hated it!” Camilo said. “I was convinced that cooking wasn’t for me. I felt exploited being hidden away at the back of a kitchen. Until one day, I found myself in a restaurant where contact between clients and the kitchen was encouraged.”

“Something clicked when I saw how people reacted when they tasted my food. The joy they experienced being at a restaurant. I wanted to be a part of their happiness. And today, I’m doing it in my own way by sharing my recipes and culinary experiences on video.”

The art of perseverance

“I’ve always had a love of cooking. It just wasn’t always a clear passion – I never thought about becoming a chef. My grandparents cooked a lot. I was fascinated by my grandfather’s knives and wanted to learn how to use them. Cutting mushrooms, developing the right technique. I ended up trying lots of different things.”

“When I was about 20 years old, it became clear to me: I wanted to be a chef. I poured so much time and energy into my career. I was always at the restaurant practicing my skills, I completed my education at the ITHQ. I had no social life, but that sacrifice helped get me where I am today.”

“I was working at a restaurant that encouraged us to enter competitions. I was also asked to collaborate with a YouTuber who’s popular in Europe. I decided to fire up my camera again and ride the momentum by launching my own channel, @Camiloouichef.”

“Even when I wasn’t filming, I was consuming lots of cooking content. Chef videos, behind-the-scenes kitchen footage. It helped shape my culinary philosophy and now, it’s what I want to do as well.”

As he dove back into filming and editing, Camilo rediscovered a passion that he’d been missing all these years. So, he decided to take the leap: he quit Menu Extra, the company he co-founded, in search of an opportunity that would allow him to dedicate more time to content creation.

“Over the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to cook for a number of exclusive events. I could charge X, and people would pay. But it didn’t sit well with me that my cooking was so inaccessible.”

The perfect opportunity presented itself: become a private chef for a creative hub, including a label, sound studio and video production company. “I cook breakfast and lunch for the team, then I get access to the studio to create content in the afternoon. I didn’t think a career this perfect even existed. People enjoy my food every day, and I have the chance to share my philosophy and recipes for free via my channel.”

Discomfort as a catalyst for growth

Once Camilo started filming, it took him a year to find his rhythm. “It’s the same as being in the kitchen. When I launch a new menu, day three is the best. It’s never as successful at the beginning. I need time to learn the moves. When everything falls into place, when I no longer need to think and it just flows, things feel totally authentic and aligned. But it takes time to get there.”

At this point, it’s probably not a shock that Camilo’s third passion is endurance sports. “Biking is a really special sport. The continuity of the movement, the lack of impact. You get to a point where everything is connected. All of your senses. And each decision you make has an immediate effect on your body.”

Camilo believes that repetition and discomfort are where we find growth. “I’ve always been someone who seeks out self-improvement. Who wants to figure out how to move forward. It takes practice to get comfortable with what you’re doing.”

Sharpening your sharing skills

While he certainly believes in endurance, sacrifice, and effort, this young chef has never been on board with the secret-keeping culture that’s long reigned in the culinary world.

“For me, there’s no secret recipe. Nobody invents anything. If you create a recipe, there’s a good chance someone has already cooked it.”

“I’ve had some extremely generous mentors. They had no filter, which helped me learn quickly and climb the ranks early in my career. If we protect our techniques and secrets, what happens to the next generation? They’ll have to work twice as hard to learn.”

Thankfully, this culture is slowly changing, thanks in part to chefs who share their expertise through online channels and books. “The concept of a ‘secret recipe’ is starting to fade away. Think of chefs like the Noma team, who spent years perfecting fermentation then wrote an easy to understand book on the topic.”

“It’s essential for me to share as much as I can. I want to be one of the chefs that pushes things forward.”

An admirable mission that will take Camilo far.

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