By Joan F. Simoneau, Community Reporter
Marlborough/Hudson – Leon Roberge, a retired local chef, at age 78, is still going strong and having lots of fun participating in the many activities he enjoys. While most people were relaxing after the Christmas holidays, he was busy preparing to make ice carvings at First Night festivities in Boston and judging the National Ice Carving Association and Food Contest for the Boston Epicurean Club.
“This year First Night was a challenge with all the rain and cold weather,” Roberge said, noting that he has worked with Steve Rose, owner of Ice Effects, for over 35 years. “We have carved through all kinds of weather, but the faces on children who watch us at the Frog Pond on Boston Common and at the skating rink there makes it all worthwhile. I love talking to them and answering their questions,” he said.
A five-star Certified Executive Chef, Roberge is a member of the American Academy of Chefs (AAC), the National Ice Carving Association, was Cafeteria Manager and Chef at Digital/Compaq in Stow, and chef at many area restaurants, including Longfellow's Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Seaman's Inn in Mystic, Conn., the Lenox Hotel in Boston, and Salem Country Club in Salem. In the early “80s, he owned his own business with his son and serviced hotels, restaurants, and entertainment groups throughout the Boston area.
Most local residents know the talented chef for his ice carvings and famous raw bar at the Annual Evening of Giving for Roland's House – the Marlborough-Hudson homeless shelter – where he prepares shrimp, clams, and oysters for the more than 1,000 people who attend the event each year. He has been participating in the fundraiser for more than 20 years.
One of the most exciting moments of his career was when he met and talked with chefs at the White House in Washington, D.C., during President George Bush's administration. He attended a chefs” convention there which included a meeting with the culinary staff.
Roberge has received many awards and citations though the years, including a service award certificate from the AAC, presented “in recognition of your valuable contributions, distinguished service, and enhancing the culinary profession by your leadership role in providing knowledge and guidance to your colleagues in the AAC and American Culinary Federation.”
A hobby that he thoroughly enjoys is raising red golden pheasants and breeding rare birds at his home in Marlborough.
“I also love making apple pies with my grandchildren – all 19 of them,” he said. “It is quite different from the 600 to 700 pies I used to make every Thanksgiving at Digital in Stow.”
Judy, his wife and mother of their 10 children, said he doesn's have time to slow down. He is too busy sharing his love for cooking and teaching young chefs.