Richard Pilon finds his passion again as he gets back into the kitchen
Richard Pilon, owner of Richard BBQ Traiteur and Zap Pizza Mobile, was recently recognized by Mazda Canada for his entrepreneurship under its Entrepreneurs Légendaire bursary program which supports local enterprises during the holiday season. Pilon has been a part of the Brome Lake community for 17 years and he is known by many as the former owner of Knowlton’s beloved Star Café restaurant. After selling the restaurant last year, Pilon decided to focus on his cooking passion, without with the stress of restaurant management, and the bursary from Mazda Canada will help him do what he does best.
Pilon was nominated for the Entrepreneurs Légendaire program by Mazda Cowansville after establishing a relationship with the group over the years. “I’ve known them for 17 years through the restaurant and now the business that I have started. I do a lot of catering for them and every week I deliver my pizzas to the employees.”
After undergoing an operation and in need of a career change, Pilon decided to sell Star Café and focus on expanding his travelling pizza kitchen, Zap Pizza Mobile, and his catering business Richard BBQ Traiteur. “My passion is to cook, but in the last few years it became more about management. Now I’m creating more.”
Pilon has had Zap Pizza Mobile for some six years. Star Café didn’t have its own pizza oven, and Pilon’s pizza was leaving a mark on the Eastern Townships, and beyond, after setting himself up at the Lions Park in Knowlton over the summer and taking part in events and festivals. “We were very busy. We did the Festival des couleurs at Mont Orford and I have served a lot of businesses. We were also invited to Pizzafest, a pizza competition in Montreal, and my son placed third out of 50 people so we ranked well.”
He also kept his smoker and his rotisserie for chicken and set up a kitchen in the garage at his home to provide his catering services through Richard BBQ Traiteur. “I’ve always done my own smoked bacon, smoked salmon, BBQ chicken. I do chicken ragout, beef bourgeon, my chili sauce, my spaghetti sauce. We also do seasonal products. We have a smoked salmon and smoked bacon dip for crackers or bread, that are very popular.”
Supporting local products through his creations is a must. “We use a lot of local meats and other local products,” emphasized Pilon. While Zap Pizza Mobile is closed during the winter season, he is getting ready to garner new points of sale, with spots at Barnes Home Hardware and at Le Rocket in Bolton-Est, for frozen pizzas and other products. “I have one place in Waterloo that I am speaking with at the moment and there are two other places, but it’s the holiday season and we are a bit bombarded so after the holidays I will concentrate on my
points of sale.”
Despite his career change, Pilon said it was the right decision considering he already had an established clientele that he knew would support him. “I have more of a family life now and Imake my own things but I don’t need to have a set menu like at the restaurant.” With the financial support from Mazda Canada, Pilon will invest in equipment.