Chef Normand Laprise and the High Lights Festival’s Honorary President, Chef Anne-Sophie Pic, together welcomed press to the opening day of the festival. Pic, whose own kitchen is in the Beau Rivage Palace in Lausanne, is the only female chef in the world to have been awarded three Michelin stars…
The diminutive and charming Pic met up with us over a glass of wine and a few well-chosen bites to give us her impressions of Montreal, of the festival’s theme and to introduce the menu that will thrill diners at the President’s Dinners this weekend at Toque!. Pic will only be in Montreal long enough to supervise her dinners, but said she had accompanied Laprise on a visit to several of his farm producers outside the city. She dined last night at Toque! and will lunch at Laprise’s bistro, Brasserie T!, before she takes off early next week.
As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, this year’s High Lights Festival is dedicated to women, and Pic regaled us with the story of her life in the kitchen. Her family’s restaurant, La Maison Pic in Valence, France, is over a century old and she herself grew up at her Michelin-starred father’s knee.
“But most of the great female chefs I know are autodidacts, because in the past, there wasn’t really room for us in the great culinary training grounds of the world,” she says. “But all that has changed. I think that the qualities that will define the women of the future will be resourcefulness, but also access to tradition.”
Pic and Laprise also spoke of the amazing feats of shipping they’d accomplished to ship over the ingredients for Pic’s menu: Line-caught Turbot from Brittany and truffles from Pic’s own supplier for her Steamed turbot with baby asparagus, mint oil and black truffles. The truffles especially were a worry: Laprise showed me, on his iPhone, the courier’s tracking list of all the stops the truffles had made on their long trip to Montreal from Perigord—his fingers are crossed they’ll arrive in time!
We enjoyed a few of Pic’s amuse-bouches, including a handmade marshmallow with peanut and lemon essence. The piece de resistance of the afternoon was a chance to try her foie gras crème brulee with green-apple emulsion, an example of how Pic plays with traditional flavours in new, utterly creative ways.
Guest Blogger: Melore Koepke
Montreal High Lights Festival, February 17-27
Toqué!, 900 Place Jean-Paul-Riopelle