HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. -- Gwenael Goulet, the chef and owner of Buffet de la Gare in Hastings, died July 19 after battling with cancer for the last decade. Goulet's restaurant has been a staple in the Hastings dining scene for the past 30 years and he was one of Westchester's best known French chefs.
"It's one thing to have a restaurant and have it boom for like a year or two," said Gwendal Goulet, the son of the popular chef. "It's another thing to stay consistent for 30 years."
Goulet was born on May 1, 1950 in Locmine, France and grew up in Concarneau where he met his wife Annie. He started off as a maître d in Paris in the food and beverage industry working small jobs at the front of restaurants. Goulet learned his greatest talents on the fly though.
"Although he did study at school in France, culinary studies," Gwendal said. "He learned the basics over there, but in terms of everything else he was really self-taught."
Goulet was convinced to move to the United States by a friend who had moved to New York and raved about the opportunities. The timing could not have been better for Goulet to set up shop in Hastings.
"Back then in Westchester there weren't that many French restaurants," Gwendal said. "So when we came over it was completely new."
Goulet's restaurant, which he bought in 1980, was more an extension of himself rather than a mere profession.
"He was always passionate when it came to entertaining and food and wine," Gwendal said. "He always made a big affair out of everything. For our birthdays he used to make the cake for us."
Aside from cooking, Goulet enjoyed gardening and soccer, even playing semi-professionally in France. It was from his garden where he spent much of his time in his later years though, cooking from his own plants and vegetables.
"No one had anything bad to say about him," Gwendal said. "He was just a really decent guy. He was kind."
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