JAY — Long-time cook Peter Benoit was remembered Monday for his famous sauces and popovers and for his rapport with customers.

Benoit, 56, of Jay, died late Sunday at his Davis Road home after a car accident on Route 133 in Jay late Sunday, police said.

Benoit and his wife, Barbara, opened Peter’s Seafood & Steak on Route 4, also known as Fairbanks Road, in Farmington this past year.

“Peter told me it was his life-long dream to open his own restaurant,” said Mike Blanchet of Farmington, a Sun Journal advertising representative. “My family goes there once a month. He always came out and greeted us. He was really friendly with all of his customers. He’ll be sadly missed by the community.”

Benoit was well-known for the popovers he made to go with prime rib dinners, Blanchet said.

Benoit formerly worked at LaFleur’s Restaurant in Jay before he decided after a medical absence to open his own restaurant.

He made a go out of it and was surviving the economy, Blanchet said.

“Everybody told him the cards were stacked against him to open a business in the middle of winter and in tough economic times,” Blanchet said. “But he did it anyway. He forged ahead and was really starting to do good.”

Christine LaFleur, who owns LaFleur’s with her husband, Bob, said Benoit was a very good cook and employee. Benoit worked for the restaurant for about 10 years before he went out on his own, she said.

Benoit always said he could cook anything, but he didn’t like to cook breakfast, LaFleur said. But if he had to, he did it, she said.

Benoit was known for his sauces, LaFleur said. He made one of the best au poivre sauces, a heavy cream sauce with wine, mushrooms and cracked pepper.

“Peter knew the customers just about as well as Bob and Christine did,” Livermore resident and LaFleur’s customer Kurt Schaub said. “In their absence he tried to make (customers) feel just as much at home as they did.”

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