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Aaron and Bronwyn Linley of Bijou Restaurant, Stratford, ON

By Waheeda Harris

Aaron and Bronwyn met at Stratford Chefs School where they both graduated in 1996. They then worked, travelled and worked some more before returning to Stratford, Ontario, to open Bijou and raise their two children, Liam and Hazel.

Inspired by the neighbourhood bistros of France, the Linleys set out to create an atmosphere of comfort and originality, offering simple cooking at unimagined heights. Bijou’s menu—modern French with some Asian and Italian influences—is crafted by Aaron; it changes daily, enabling him to incorporate seasonal ingredients and concentrate on bringing the best possible food to the table. Bronwyn is the pastry chef, and has an equally watchful eye for detail.

What specialty dishes or local items do you recommend to visitors?

Aaron: Any product from Soiled Reputation, Montforte Dairy and elk products from Lyle Renecker

Bronwyn: Pork! Especially in Perth Country.

What’s your favourite place for a meal under $10 in Stratford?

Aaron: Perth County Co-op

Bronwyn: Pearl Sushi

Favourite restaurant in Stratford (other than your own)?

Aaron: Rundles Sophisto Bistro

Bronwyn: Too many to list! Down the Street Bar & Restaurant would probably be my fave.

What do you love to eat that is simple to make?

Aaron: Fresh pasta

Bronwyn: I come from a British family, so roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and rice pudding

Is there a food style or trend that you would be happy to see disappear?

Aaron: None—there is room for everyone.

Bronwyn: Fast food

What culinary trend are you happy to see has become popular?

Aaron: Meals arranged around several smaller courses

Bronwyn: Tapas, eating local

What’s your ideal for a day off from the restaurant?

Aaron: Sleeping in, spending time with my family, reading a book that has nothing to do with cooking and cooking simple food for dinner

Bronwyn: Sleeping in, taking a walk with my husband and kids, having a meal outdoors with my family and a great bottle of wine!

Do you have a favourite ingredient or style of cooking that you will always do as a chef?

Aaron: I will always be inspired by French technique.

Bronwyn: I love fruit in season. This works all year here in Stratford.

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