Now more than ever, a woman’s place is in the kitchen—as the driving force of this year’s Montreal High Lights Festival. Every year since its inception a decade ago, the festival’s Wine and Dine Experience has organized itself around a theme, and this year the festival is honouring women in the culinary arts—from chefs to winemakers to cheesemongers…
The High Lights festival offers a vast and varied schedule of culinary events so extensive that there’s no way a single eater could ever dream of experiencing it all. But that’s the best thing about February in Montreal—there’s always something new to eat, and somewhere new to eat it.
This year, the festival’s honourary President is Anne-Sophie Pic of Maison Pic in Valence, France. Pic, who prefers to call herself a “cook” rather than a “chef”, is the only woman in France to hold three Michelin stars, the highest culinary designation in the world. Pic’s Presidential dinners at Toque!, in which an innovative tasting menu will be paired with wines from her chosen vineyard, Domaine Georges Vernay in Cotes du Rhone, will be the most sought-after table at the festival. Whether you want an elegant gala sit-down meal or something a little more casual, choices abound. Over two dozen of Montreal’s best restaurants will be hosting female chefs from around the world for special meals that are joint efforts between the home teams and their special guests. I’m particularly excited by some of the new-world pairings—Melissa Craig from Whistler’s Bearfoot Bistro at Old Montreal’s Chez L’Epicier and Elizabeth Falkner from San Francisco’s Orson at DNA are sure bets.
There’s also a serious collusion between specially invited winemakers (also all women) from France, California, Argentina, New Zealand, and British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. And as for all that wonderful cheese, take a peak at our look at the Festival of Cheeses
(TIP: if you happen to have some little ones with you, they’ll be thrilled to check out a special brunch screening of Ratatouille, which is surely one of the few times that “rats” and “food” could ever be put in the same sentence and still be called “cute”.)
Guest blogger: Melora Koepke