This year too, the owner of the restaurant Le Sacristain is offering his traditional “free dinner” for everyone who feels a little hungry and, like him, hopes for peace in the world.
“My wish for 2024? Silence the guns once and for all. You are loud and vulgar, never said anything nice,” he wrote on social media this week.
Jacques Langlois does not live in the land of unicorns. The 49-year-old likes to think that harmony around you begins by taking a concrete action to break away from the gloomy surroundings and by turning a blind eye to the winter blues in the process.
This Saturday, January 20, from 12 p.m., around 150 meals will be offered to as many people as arrive at the entrance of his small restaurant on Bonaventure Street in Trois-Rivières. First come, first served until the cauldrons are empty.
“You come over, eat your lunch and that’s it. If possible, bring your meals with you, this means less waste for us. And most importantly, if you feel like it, pick up lunch for people you know who don't go out. I think of grandpa or grandma, or anyone who can't travel but would be happy to have a good meal. We'll meet people downtown. But I know that there are many alone and isolated people everywhere that we don’t know,” he also mentioned in his message.
On the menu: dishes that provide a dose of well-being, “and are really good!” emphasizes Jacques Langlois, who has incorporated six or seven types of peppers into his chili con carne, seasoned according to his inspiration. Just because it's free doesn't mean it lacks flavor.
“Those who are poor often get food. But tasty is rarer. Food enables survival. The delicious thing is used differently. It comforts and nourishes the soul…”
In addition to the spoon, Jacques Langlois also mastered the use of a pen. He is a master of words and not just on social media. On the back of his novel “The Saga of the Roy's Daughters,” written during the pandemic, the father of four presents himself as a housewife, career counselor, sociologist, psychotherapist, businessman, restaurateur and writer.
Jacques Langlois was a regular customer of the Sacristan before he bought it with the aim of spending his money on it. The original Sherbrooke resident has always loved cooking.
“I was 10 years old listening to Sister Angèle,” he says of the nun known for her recipes prepared in front of television cameras.
Jacques Langlois, a resident of Trois-Rivières for 25 years, came up with the idea for this free meal in the spring of 2020, when a public health emergency was declared in Quebec. He was worried about his children being “stayed at home” due to the containment measures and refused to sit idly by in the face of the social isolation imposed on us by this pandemic.
“If I have dinner in front of the restaurant, anyone can come!” he said to himself and decided to respond specifically to the slogan “It’ll be okay,” which was shouted by all the stalls.
Jacques Langlois simply wanted to be useful and please without asking for anything in return. He's got a taste for it.
This Saturday the sexton's “free dinner” will take place for the fourth time, despite the current economic situation, especially for restaurateurs who are particularly faced with an increase in food costs and a decrease in the number of customers.
“Despite everything, we did quite well. We are happy and grateful,” wrote Jacques Langlois about the sacristan, confirming that at least 150 portions will be generously distributed this Saturday.
“We start serving at noon and it should be done around 1 or 1:30 p.m.”
Jacques Langlois' initiative aims to promote coexistence. He wants to make a communal gesture, without discrimination between people who live in poverty (or not).
“Would you like me to serve you lunch that day?” You’re going to have lunch.”
With that in mind, if the restaurateur takes the risk of running out of food, he or she will subtly favor the person in line who is not only feeling a little hungry but has a downright empty stomach. He also provided meals to homeless people who are used to warming up in the harbor park parking lot.
In addition, you should not hesitate to ask for a dish for grandma who does not have the strength to move. The former psychologist promotes the possibility of visiting our loved ones. One of them is to bring grandma a plate of steaming cassoulet.
Jacques Langlois hopes there will be food for everyone, but apologizes in advance for people who are late.
The man is not forcing anyone, quite the opposite, but those who want have the opportunity to leave “a little money” in exchange for a free meal. There is a pot on the restaurant counter for this purpose. The amount will be paid to an organization to be determined.
“I want to offer it to those who defend peace in the world,” suggests the restaurateur, adding: “My heart is still as broken as it was on the first day of the war in Ukraine…”
In this fourth edition, the sexton will not be the only one who takes care of everything. Le Manoir du Spaghetti and the Restaurant l'Épi have agreed to offer bread and dessert together with Jacques Langlois. Les Couleurs de la Terre farm will come by with gratins and a few bags of potatoes. A neighbor offered to cook a good soup, her daughter Cassandre, 11, is looking forward to serving people, relatives and friends will also come and help her…
Jacques Langlois is sure of that. “We will have fun!”
And that too is free.