The international infatuation with our local celebrity chefs – Au Pied de Cochon’s Martin Picard, Joe Beef’s Dave McMillan and Fred Morin, Toqué’s Normand Laprise, Garde Manger’s Chuch Hughes , etc.– shows no sign of waning, so for a glimpse into their way of thinking and cooking, you might want to attend a cooking class or book-signing session at one of Montreal’s top foodie shops: Dante, Appetite for Books or Les Touilleurs…
Of the three, Appetite for Books is the most English-friendly. Chef and owner Jonathan Cheung is personal friends with all the local biggies, hosting occasional autograph nights with chefs like Chuck Hughes and Martin Picard. He also teaches classes to groups of 10 where he demoes recipes that appear in the books he sells. “Students” eat and sip wine around a counter as he cooks, and take the books home at the end. Check the site for the upcoming schedule.
Dante, a very traditional shop in Little Italy that is one of the best-stocked with cooking gadgets and utensils, owns a little cooking school for amateurs. Local restaurant stars often are called on to give a class on a specific theme (a recent example: Joe Beef’s Fred Morin built a whole class around, you guessed it, beef). On February 13, American import Nick Hodge, chef-owner of Kitchenette, will share his mom’s gumbo recipe, complete with accompanying Braised collard greens and Buttermilk biscuits. It’s always best to book by phone, finding out first what language the course will be taught in.
Les Touilleurs is a beautiful boutique for the cookery aficionado worth the detour in its own right (it’s right on Laurier Avenue, in the heart of the Plateau neighbourhood). Its workshops, always for a maximum of 12, centers around a chef, who makes three or four dishes for all to taste. They’re always in French but most chefs are bilingual and more than glad to answer questions in English. On February 11, Stéphanie Labelle, the city’s current darling of the pastry world, will reveal some of the secrets that helped turn her shop Rhubarbe into such a hit. But there’s something going on almost every other night, so be sure to download the full calendar off their site.
Appetite for Books, 388 Victoria, (514) 369-2002
Dante – MezzaLuna, 57 Dante, (514) 272-5299
Les Touilleurs, 152 Laurier West, (514) 278-0008