In Montreal restaurants these days, there is an emphasis on serving food made with local products (vegetables, high-quality meats and cheeses from small local producers). Much of this tendency towards using regional farm products in local restaurants is due in part to Normand Laprise, the chef from Toqué! His restaurant, Toqué! is a Montreal culinary institution, and thanks to Normand Laprise’s relentless determination over the years to cook with locally grown produce, and to use regional suppliers of meat and cheese, he has influenced other restaurants to follow suit.
When Normand Laprise talks about the 40 different producers who deliver their farm-fresh products to his restaurant every day, he affectionately calls them ‘artisans’ and considers them members of his family.
Since about 70% of the food served in his restaurant comes from fresh off the farm only an hour outside of Montreal, we didn’t have to travel far to meet one of his growers. We visited a local farm where I had the pleasure of accompanying Normand Laprise to meet one of his vegetable ‘artisans.’
Pierre-André Daigneault is a small local grower who prefers to cultivate lesser known vegetables rather than becoming a mass producer. His expertise is in growing new varieties of organic produce, and he does a lot of research in his attempts to produce something original. Talk about green thumbs, you should see the enormous fig tree he managed to grow in a hothouse in Quebec—and it actually bears fruit! He sells his specialized crops to chefs all over Canada from as far away as Halifax and all the way to Vancouver.
Laprise works with a lot of small producers who deliver their locally grown produce fresh from the farm straight to Toqué!. Towards noon, the chef decides on the evening menu, depending on what comes in the delivery from the farms that day. In the afternoon, the cooks do the prep, but 90% of the cooking is done right before the food is served.
900 Place Jean-Paul-Riopelle, Montreal, Qc, H2Z 2B2, (514) 499-2084
Tuesday to Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Dress code: chic
Average bill (before taxes, alcohol and tip): $75 per person or $92 for a tasting menu
Les jardiniers du chef