CJ’s Corner Kitchen

by Susan Fisch (February 2021)

Hemmingford diners, welcome to our newest restaurant! For those of you not already familiar with it, CJ’s Corner Kitchen is located at 491 Frontière Street on the corner of Champlain.

CJ stands for the two owners, Cassie Lussier and Joanna Bigras. The two ladies have been friends since high school and have a shared passion for cooking. At 13 they would visit each other’s homes for homework and ended up cooking up a storm together. Over the years they have both worked in various restaurant kitchens. In 2006 Cassie owned the chip stand in Sherrington, and Joanna worked with her. It was a time they really enjoyed.

Joanna lives in St-Chrysostôme and is the daughter of Gilles Bigras, Stéphane Billette’s former political staffer. She was a teacher for 14 years, but the passion slowly faded, and she wondered what her next chapter would be. Cassie, who is from Hemmingford and is the daughter of Aline Giroux, most recently owned her own hairdressing salon. Both are moms. In fact, their oldest kids are the same age and help out at the restaurant when not in school.

How did the dream come about? They had wanted to own a restaurant together for a long time, and thought, perhaps they could start by cooking meals for the elderly and producing home-cooked take-out meals for busy people who don’t have time to cook for themselves. But they didn’t have a MAPAQ approved kitchen in their homes and decided to invest in installing a fully MAPAQ certified restaurant kitchen in the old Country Harvest. And what a perfect location!

Cassie and Joanna are not always together in the kitchen at the same time. The biggest challenge is getting all the ingredients precisely measured so meals are always consistent… not an easy task for a creative cook.

Since they opened, they had been serving lunches and suppers and were preparing to open for breakfasts when the lockdown happened in October. But they are well organized for take out. All the food is home-made, including the breads for submarines.

Go on Facebook, or search in Google, to find a copy of their daily menu.

If you’re looking for a ready-made meal, or several, their freezer offers homemade chicken pot pies, meat pies, sweet and sour apple meat balls served on rice, Mexican rice, hamburger soup, cabbage rolls, lasagna made with fresh pasta, Bolognese sauce, vegan chili and sloppy joes.

There are also desserts, like cinnamon roll cake and chocolate cake. Joanna’s mom, who is also an excellent cook, comes in to help out at least once a week. In fact, she bakes all the chocolate cakes for the restaurant. A few years back, she won a prize for her kahlua chocolate cake from Soeur Angèle in a cooking contest

Both ladies believe strongly in encouraging local businesses and local artists. Next to the cash you will see a shelf filled with gift items from local artists and artisans. And as the season permits, the produce used in cooking is all from local producers in the area.

They have applied for a liquor licence for when the lockdown will be over. While they can’t serve alcohol, you will be able to bring your own wine to enjoy during a nice meal with family and friends in their charming and tastefully decorated dining room. Another thought that is sprouting is to have a charcuterie board for the summer. And maybe even to start baking fresh breads. Many people have been asking.

Cassie and Joanna look forward to receiving you in their home-away-from-home. Place an order for that pizza or sub or pasta dish by phone at 450-247-2444, or come in and pick up a meal from the freezer. They are open between 11:30 and 7pm during curfew hours. Tell them Susan sent you. They’ll give you an extra smile. I know they are looking forward to seeing the restaurant full again with happy patrons enjoying a night out, accompanied by a wonderful meal made with love.

We wish the ladies long running success. May their passion nourish Hemmingfordians for many years to come.