Joe Beef is one of Montreal’s popular restaurants
By Diego Flammini
A teenage farmer near Quebec City is influencing the local food scene.
Louis Bilodeau, a 14-year-old sheep producer from Saint-Michel-de-Bellechasse, supplies Joe Beef, a popular Montreal restaurant, with meat from his farm. He sends the restaurant four lambs per production cycle.
“It’s a meat that’s not too thin, and it cooks well,” Frédéric Morin, co-owner of Joe Beef, told CBC Sunday. “I’m making an ethical choice by choosing to buy (from Bilodeau) rather than elsewhere. I’m sure the animals are raised with respect and have had a good life before being (processed).”
As a thank you to Bilodeau, the restaurant named its smoked lamb Méchoui, after the young farmer. The French translation is Méchoui fumé de Louis.
Bilodeau started his operation two years ago. He decided to raise sheep after his father Rémi, a dairy farmer, suggested choosing other animals to raise. The young farmer originally wanted to raise pigs, but his father worried about having enough space.
Three days later, Louis saw an online listing for a flock of sheep for about $6,000. His father gave him an old building on the farm to start his sheep operation.
Aside from making connections in the restaurant industry, the young farmer has also started to introduce his friends to life on a farm.
“On Friday after school, my friends come to help me with (the sheep),” he told CBC. “We’re in a village here, and they have nothing to do. It changes the routine.”
Fellow sheep producers are happy to see a young farmer like Louis take an interest in the industry.
And having his peers around the farm is a good way to encourage others to take an interest in ag, said Phil Kolodychuk, chairman of the Canadian Sheep Federation.
“It’s great to see young people want to become ag entrepreneurs in our industry,” he told Farms.com. “There’s lots of great opportunities for kids in ag these days. It definitely helps when they see someone their own age having success and enjoying it. I think, for them, it has a different impact than having an adult show the farm.”
Louis Bilodeau and Frédéric Morin/CBC photo