This is Vincent Thuaud, co-owner of Chez Tao, Jjacques, Au Quai du Jjacques and Julio Taqeria in Quebec City.
Vincent is 32 years old. He grew up mostly in Quebec City but he also lived in Brossard for a few years during his teenage. He has no kids, but one dog and many employees. Vincent studied 3D animation and moved to Montreal from 18 to 21 years old, trying to make a career for himself in that field. It was hard to find work so he came back to Quebec City and went to University to study Administration. Since he has an important attention deficit disorder, the university academic frame was not suited for him. In parallel to his studies, he had started to work in hospitality and the switch happened quite naturally.
Like many bartenders, Vincent started as a busser in a restaurant. He worked his way up to become a server but was not the best of waiters. His attention deficit disorder made it difficult for him to remember the orders and he would often forget little details. However, when he discovered the bar, he realized that it was the perfect context for him to really express his personality and to be in control. If he forgot stuff, it was easier to compensate the little mistakes than when he was waiting tables. When he first started to work at a bar, it was at a place where there were no bartenders. The servers would make their own drinks and least would be to say that the recipes were very far from being standardized. When Vincent would ask questions about certain recipes, everyone would have a different answers. It led him to buy books and to start reading to get the answers he was looking for.
When Vincent started to explore bartending was a time when mixology was still being regarded from above and laughed at by bartenders in Quebec City. The only mixologist was Patrice Plante. There was also Baptiste Gissinger that owned a restaurant where he was making his own syrups. And that was pretty much the portrait of mixology in Quebec City at the time. One day, Baptiste needed help at his bar and asked Vincent to give him a hand. Vincent started to learn about how to make syrups and use quality ingredients. This was the year that Baptiste was taking part in Made With Love in Montreal and it opened Vincent’s eyes on a whole new universe. He started to study a lot and worked to be part of this gang. And it worked. He started getting involved more and more with the bartending community and to put a lot of efforts to showcase Quebec City’s emerging cocktail scene.
One thing we did not mention yet is Vincent’s passion for music. It’s important to tell you as this is what eventually led him to open his own bar. For a few years while he was still bartending, Vincent was also working as a host. Him and his business partner would organize music events throughout the city. Unfortunately, it was difficult to actually make money out of it so they started to plan opening their own music venue, a basement night-club specialized in aromatized vodkas. Yes, you read that right. Luckily for Quebec’s bar scene, it took them a few years before they were able to open their own place and the aromatized vodka popularity had decreased by then. Together, with the help of a couple others business partners, they gave birth to Chez Tao, a street food and craft cocktail bar that was a first of its kind and definitely serves some of the best cocktails in town. A few years later, they opened Jjacques, Quebec City’s first speakeasy. During the covid, they opened a another new venue, Au Quai du Jjacques, a bar counter specialized in gin. Lastly, they are working on a new project that is about to open soon. We will keep the suspense going for this one.
Overall, Vincent and his associates definitely changed and shaped Quebec City’s cocktail scene. They work very hard to promote hospitality as a viable career options and to provide healthy and stimulating work environments for their staff. They recently created a non-for-profit organization called Les Tabliers Solidaires whose goal is to act as a resource for hospitality industry workers. It will allow its members access to services and treatments to help physical and mental health issues as well as addiction problems, all of which are inherent to our industry.
To conclude, we wanted highlight the reasons why we took the time to talk about Vincent’s ADD. By now, we hope you understand that Vincent is one of the major players in our cocktail scene and one of the most successful and respected bar owners in Canada. By his reputation and what he has accomplished, you would never have guessed that he actually struggled to become this good. We think it’s a very good example of someone that is not necessarily a “natural” but that works very hard and adapts to the situations he is in. We hope this will inspire others who struggle with similar difficulties to persevere, but also management staff to adapt their frames to different staff realities rather than applying the same frame to everyone.
A little bit more about…
The three words that describe his best: sensible – authentic – intense
Fun fact about him: He was straight edge from 18 to 21 years old.
The most magical place he ever visited: Gili Island in Indonesia. You can swim with turtles. All the beach restaurants and bars sell magic mushroom. At night, you can hear religious chants coming from afar. He was supposed to stay there for a couple nights and ended spending the week.
What he likes most about his job: Opening a new place and bringing something new to the existing scene. He likes to bring people out of their comfort zones. He loves to create an experience that makes people travel, discover new things and feel a positive emotion.
An advice he would offer to future bar owners: Don’t open something by yourself and don’t open something with people that resemble yourself. Make sure you are surrounded by others that all have different skills sets. Furthermore, don’t give up if it doesn’t work instantly. It might take a lot of time, a lot of refusal and a lot of trial and errors before you find a space and start creating your project. It’s all about timing. Sometimes the timing is right, sometimes the timing is wrong. But you won’t know that unless you keep trying.