Becoming a chef wasn’t always Adam Lafleur’s plan.

He always had an interest in food, and enjoyed cooking with his parents and friends, and watching chefs such as Michael Smith on the Food Network, but it wasn’t where he thought his career would take him. In fact, he initially enrolled in a university for a business management program.

However, it became clear early on that business was not his passion.

“It wasn't what I wanted to be doing. It was funny because I started skipping class to cook for my roommates,” said Lafleur with a laugh. “I was sort of the house chef.”

A good friend of Lafleur’s was attending Humber for the College’s culinary programs and told him how wonderful an experience it was. Lafleur decided to enrol in Humber’s Culinary Management program, graduating in 2014.

Lafleur, who’s chef de cuisine at Toronto restaurant Constantine, has been named as one of Kostuch Media’s 2023 Top 30-Under-30 award winners.    

Also included in this year’s awards are Humber graduates Rob Yu and Anthony Marchisello. Last year, Humber alumna Liezle Espejo was named as one of the 2022 award winners.   

He said the award tells him he made the right decision to change his program and attend Humber nearly a decade ago.

“I’m being recognized, which is great, but it’s not something that I did on my own,” said Lafleur. “I’ve had a lot of support from my family and friends and my fiancé. I’ve had others support and encourage me and put me in positions where I could succeed. It takes a village, right?”

Two people in a kitchen lean up against a counter while smiling.

Professor Shonah Chalmers remembered Lafleur as a dedicated learner while Professor Francisco Rivera said he was like a sponge, absorbing everything that was taught.

“As a student, Adam was driven to learn as much as he could while at Humber College and he assisted at many volunteer opportunities while completing his diploma,” said Chalmers. “Chef Lafleur was active with the chef's association, supported local fundraisers and showcased his budding culinary talent on many occasions. Adam, since the start of his cooking education, respected the ingredients and treated them with care and respect. This is due to his deep commitment to sustainable food practices.”    

His career has taken him to RattleSnake Point Golf Club and the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald in Edmonton. He spent time at Pasqualino in Milton as well as at Glen Abbey Golf Club, which hosted the Canadian Open several times while he was there.

“It was serving 1,000 people a day for five days straight. Being part of that experience was very cool.”

He also worked at Hexagon in Oakville as chef de parti where he was able to refine many of his cooking and plating techniques. He was also in charge of their dry aging program and a dry aged duck has become one of Lafleur’s specialties.  

Lafleur felt he had struck gold when he was promoted to head chef of Noble Bistro at the age of 25. However, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the restaurant closed shortly after.

Eventually, Lafleur saw a posting for a sous chef position at Constantine. He applied, got the job and started working at a restaurant that was trying to navigate an industry being decimated by closures. It was challenging at times, but he and the restaurant survived and emerged stronger for it.

Last September, he was officially hired as chef de cuisine.

“All that hard work and long hours paid off. It’s been such a great experience. I’m still focused on the food but I’m getting to dive into the business side of the restaurant and gaining a greater understanding of how it all works.”

Constantine is located at 15 Charles St. E. in Toronto.