Behind the scenes with Normand Laprise at Toqué!

Posted on November 26th, 2009 by .

In a previous post, I visited a farm with talented chef, Normand Laprise, from Toqué! — one of Montreal’s top restaurants. After our field trip, Normand kindly invited to visit his kitchen! So, as a good Insider, I wanted to give you a behind-the-scenes glimpse into one of Montreal’s most famous gastronomic institutions. Now you can see his culinary innovation first-hand as he continues to promote farm-fresh products in his restaurants.

Here an insider’s view of Toqué!‘s kitchen.

Let’s make something clear right away, I already had an enormous amount of respect and admiration for the work of Normand Laprise, the talented chef from Toqué! — one of Montreal’s top restaurants. Now I’m more impressed than ever, especially considering the fact that he remains so humble and endearing after being named a member of the Order of Quebec — the Quebec government’s highest distinction. Not to mention that he continues to be innovative and tireless in his pursuit to promote locally grown produce by using farm-fresh products in his restaurants.

Much to my delight, after shooting our visit to one of his supplier’s farms, Normand surprised me by kindly extending an invitation to visit his kitchen. So, as a good Insider, I made sure we could give all of you a behind-the-scenes glimpse into one of Montreal’s most famous gastronomic institutions.

You can feel the excitement and the energy as soon as you walk into the kitchen. Every night, nearly 45 staff members buzz around like a hive of busy bees, focusing all their attention on serving up to 900 dishes in an evening. It’s quite impressive to see in action, like a complicated ballet or symphony, with Norman Laprise at the helm, conducting this orchestra, checking every plate before it leaves the kitchen.

All the staff call him, ‘chef’ and he refers to his brigade as “the youngsters”. He considers it his role to stimulate them and inspire them. He regularly takes them on field trips to the farm so they can help with harvesting the crops and he can pass on respect and knowledge about the environment. He’s got a lot to teach them, considering the fact that Mr. Laprise grew up on a farm and still feels connected to the land.

We could say that Normand Laprise is something of a ‘mentor’ in contemporary Quebec gastronomy. Many reputable chefs have earned their stripes in his kitchen such as David McMillan and Frédéric Morin from Joe Beef, Patrice Demers from Newtown as well as Martin Picard, from the Pied de cochon, who consider him a culinary “father figure”.

Insider tip: If you want to get a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes action, ask your server if you can visit the kitchen and wine cellar. If it’s not too busy that evening, you might even get a tour from Normand Laprise himself!

Toqué! is the only Montreal restaurant to be a member of the Association Relais & Châteaux and it’s one of the few restaurants in the country to receive a CAA/AAA Five Diamond award.

900 Place Jean-Paul-Riopelle, Montreal, Qc, H2Z 2B2, 514 499-2084

Open Tuesday to Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Reservations are mandatory
Dress code: chic
Average bill (before taxes, alcohol and tip): $75 per person or $92 for a tasting menu

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