Cook with Jacques and Friends


Reneé Touponce

Idlewild Photography

Reneé Touponce

Reneé Touponce is head chef at the Oyster Club and opening chef at The Port of Call in Mystic, CT, both part of the 85th Day Food Community whose mission is to shorten the distance from harvest to table. Reneé’s culinary philosophy is epitomized by her dedication to sustainability and zero waste, drawing on her Italian and Puerto Rican roots, but always keeping coastal Southern New England at the forefront.

With humility and advocacy, Reneé heralds an era where gender holds no domain over culinary prowess, emphasizing that “there’s no gender in food.” She embraces her role in fostering an environment of equality and safety, ensuring that no one feels out of place in her kitchen, citing her identity as a queer woman as a catalyst for change.

Reneé was named a 2023 James Beard finalist for Best Chef, Northeast, and Chef of the Year at the 2022 Connecticut Restaurant Association Awards (The CRAzies). With every dish she crafts, she weaves a narrative that celebrated heritage, sustainability, and equality, elevating Mystic’s culinary reputation.



Reneé Touponce - Maine Smelt Boquerones-Style

Maine Smelt Boquerones-Style

Boquerones are traditionally cured anchovies served as part of a Spanish Tapas menu. My version uses local Maine smelt found in the estuaries and offshore waters from the Chesapeake Bay to Labrador. They are caught using hand-held dip nets, and I know that Jacques and Claudine love to fish and cook them. Flavorings of garlic, Calabrian chilis, lemon and olive oil make them perfect as a first course or snack served atop sourdough bread with cultured butter, tomatoes or baba ganoush.

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