Christian Bégin has experienced two difficult episodes in a row in the last few months: one at the professional level, the other at the personal level. The challenges he faced caused the 60-year-old to criticize himself and reassess his priorities.
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We don’t meet our man in his adopted home of Kamouraska, but in Austin. This summer, in this charming little Estrie commune of 1,500 inhabitants, Curieux Bégin heats up its cauldrons to serve its… 16th season! The presenter is delighted. And a little incredulous. “The fact that it’s still holding up after 16 years is a gift from the gods. It would be indecent to get tired of this show. I drink, I eat, I meet exciting, passionate and talented people and perfect my education in this context. Add to that a trip to Italy and a visit to some parts of Ontario and you have just as enthusiastic a host as the first show. But there is more. “This season we’re going from 12 to 25 episodes. This is very rare as we generally observe the opposite movement. We have a very varied and exciting season.”
Photo: / TELE-QUEBEC
FROM THE PLAYGROUND TO THE GARDEN
Bégin is curious and wants to stay that way. It was also this research springboard that allowed him to discover the Kamouskara region a few years ago. He fell madly in love with it. “If I have a grocery store there, it’s thanks to Curieux Bégin,” he says, referring to the sacristan’s garden. “These people are now part of my life and have changed it in many ways. It is a wonderful playground and place of learning. It’s a blessing to me.”
In 2021, Christian, together with his partner Marie-Fleur Saint-Pierre, acquired this village grocery store. Like all businesses, Le Jardin du Beadeau has been rocked by the pandemic. “We had internal problems. It was new for Marie-Fleur and me, but we are in a good growth phase. We have found a reliable and solid team. We have specified our niche. The grocery store keeps ringing because Kamouraska is no longer just a place of transit, it has become a tourist destination. It’s a place that resembles us and whose main mission is to showcase local products.”
In this sense, he is also in his sixth year as a spokesperson for Plein Art, the Salon des métiers d’art de Québec (PAQ). This gathering, now in its 41st year, has evolved in line with the time it has gone through. “There is a renewal of artisans that are now coming to fill this ecosystem. They bring new working methods that combine traditional techniques with modern techniques. The approach is much less folkloric. It breaks away from the backward-looking view we have of craftsmanship. Many people today create objects for today’s use.
Tableware is a staple of PAQ, enchanting the Bégin foodie and gourmet. “There are artisans who make the food, but there are also ceramists, carpenters and other people who design objects to decorate the table service. More and more restaurateurs, for example, commission ceramists to design their tableware. The approach is more global than ever.”
This year, the event will take place from August 1st to 13th at Espace 400e in Quebec’s Old Port, with the theme of environmental responsibility and local consumption. “All of this is in line with my values,” remarked Citizen Bégin. The PAQ and Curieux Bégin go in the same direction, that is, they value economic and food sovereignty. Craftsmen and workers in the agri-food sector are economic levers, and I firmly believe in that.”
He cites his beloved Bas-Saint-Laurent as an example: “This is the first region to develop a food and economic self-sufficiency project.” We are also a laboratory. Eyes are on us across Canada. It’s very exciting what’s happening there right now. You can’t find anything better as an ambassador.
Simon Clark/QMI Agency
THE VALUE OF WORDS
Curious Bégin for 16 years and Y’a du monde à messe for 7 years: Christian Bégin is an established animator. However, after making a controversial statement in Everyone’s Talking About Stéphane Rousseau’s participation in the film Barbarian Invasion in 2004, he was greeted with a brick and a beacon.
With its openness, the outmoded character has polarized people for a long time. The situation has changed. “Aging and therapy have certain benefits. We recognize that the word has value, and that the zeal—or the recklessness or the claim—of youth has had its day. At the same time it is normal. I look at certain young people who I find pushing and I tell myself that when I was their age I was arrogant too. I will continue to defend certain values, but differently. This makes me less polarizing. It must also be said that Y’a du monde à mass, for example, aims to create a meeting rather than a confrontation in order to have a real conversation.
Openness, curiosity and encounters with others and with oneself often appear in the discourse of the 60-year-old. Also, to have your finger on the pulse. “The day I no longer feel that curiosity, I will die out, unable to reflect the world I live in.”
act of repentance
Host and entrepreneur, of course, but let’s not forget that Christian Bégin is first and foremost an actor. Last season we saw him in the series Indéfendable and Entre deux. We’ll see him there. He will also help distribute author Isabelle Langlois’ next fiction (Let Go): The Candidate.
With all this, isn’t Christian Bégin afraid of getting lost? “Growing up, there were times when I was really lost and felt a little isolated. But I’m privileged and I’m at a moment in my professional life where I can choose the projects I want to be part of.
So he wanted to do a solo show, and he did. But “The 8 Deadly Sins” was poorly received when it premiered in Montreal last October. He makes an act of regret: “I should have walked that show a lot more often. It was my responsibility. You can’t have a premiere in Outremont with a teleprompter. It is impossible. I will regret it for the rest of my life, and I owe a lot if I admit I didn’t show up ready. He soon got back to his homework and returned to the stage with a revamped and improved version of the show. “After the makeover, things went great. The halls were full and the reactions enthusiastic. Everything was fine until my health paralyzed me…”
AT THE TIME OF THE ELECTIONS
On June 7, Christian wrote on his Facebook page: “On March 29, I underwent major brain surgery following a providential check-up due to recurring headaches. […] CHUM’s outstanding neurosurgery team removed a benign but worrying tumor, the presence of which required prompt intervention and a minimum two-month disability.” On May 31, he returned to his pilot’s seat at Y’a du monde à mass. Unfortunately — but it’s a lesser evil — he’s had to mourn his show’s scheduled appearances. “After nearly three months of recovery, it was impossible for me to start again. The consequences of such a case lie in the decisions I must make and in naming what is important to me. I also have to take care of myself. I don’t want to pedal again.
Christian Bégin never had a career plan and will not outline it at this stage of his life. “I just want to keep going. I’m thinking more and more about giving meaning to what I do and not doing things that don’t make sense anymore. Time is precious and passes quickly…”
Plein Art, Quebec’s arts and crafts fair, will be held August 1-13 at Espace 400e in Quebec’s Old Port. Y’a du monde à messe airs Fridays at 9 p.m. on Télé-Québec.
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