Head Chef & Owner Julien Jourdain
Julien's journey from Calais to Ipswich started when he was 15. His parents, aware that Julien was not interested in school, enrolled him at a catering college. It wasn't until his first placement in a local restaurant that he fell in love with catering. Julien found himself working very hard and saying of that time, it was a lot of fun.
The day before the summer holiday break, Julien's father announced that Julien was to go to England tomorrow to work at a friend of a friend's restaurant in Ipswich. The next day, Julien set off on a journey that would change is life. The restaurant in question is the one Julien now owns.
Not knowing England very well, and thinking Ipswich was in London, he got in a cab at the train station and asked to be taken to Ipswich. The cabbie, to his credit, explained to Julien the distances (and cost) involved and dropped him at Liverpool St Station.
Later arriving at the boat on the quay in Ipswich, Julien was met by the head chef and was told "We're fully booked tonight, get down the kitchen now!" Over the next two months, he worked very hard, learned a lot and loved every minute of it. So much so, Julien would spend the next four years travelling between France and England to work on the boat in the summer, and the Great House (Lavenham) in winter.
Four years passed, and the end of catering college and its exams was approaching. Back in France, Julien made the decision to move permanently to Ipswich to work on the boat. However, Cupid had other ideas. With just two weeks to go until the big move, Julien met Karine, his now-wife. The timing was terrible, but Julien moved to Suffolk as planned. After a month, and desperately missing his new girlfriend, he returned to Calais to be with her. Happy to be with his love, Julien, however, struggled with life in Northern France. He missed Suffolk and the boat, and after a year trying to make it work, he announced he was going to return to Ipswich – in true Jourdain fashion – the next day!
Julien was back in England, happy in his work but without his love. Fortunately, a position became available on the boat, and he called Karine and said "You've got to move here". With true love being able to cross the great divide – even the English Channel – Karine left her job, her house and moved to Ipswich. Together they lived and worked, both making Suffolk their new home. After a year Karine moved on to other opportunities and Julien went to work as chef at what is now the Waterfront Bistro.
Then, in 2018, Julien discovered the boat was up for sale. Seizing the moment, he bought the boat in October. Not only was he back, but he was also back as head chef and joint owner with his wife, Karine.
If anything, this is a story of love and passion. A passion for what he does, and a love of Ipswich and Suffolk and the life he has made here with his wife and children. The good thing about this journey; however, it doesn't end here; it's just the beginning of another chapter in the story of an old Belgium Gun Boat and the vision Julien has for it.