It took chef Normand Laprise close to 20 years to decide to write a cookbook and three years to put the finishing touches on Toqué! Creators of a new Quebec gastronomy, which is coming out in English on November 28. The most famous of Quebec chefs didn’t take the easy way out by writing a straightforward cookbook. The book, first and foremost, is an ode to all the artisans who have contributed on a daily basis to making Toqué! the best restaurant in Quebec for the past 20 years…
The Toqué! Creators of a new Quebec gastronomy story starts with the dream team of chef owner Normand Laprise, co-owner Christine Lamarche and chef de cuisine Charles-Antoine Crête. The three work in perfect harmony to bring us the uniquely creative and elegant cuisine we have come to love. Chef Laprise was a proponent of using local ingredients unique to the land before it was fashionable to do so. He has built special relationships with his purveyors and they have all been key components in propelling Toqué! to the top.
Although both Laprise and Crête don’t seem to think so, some of the book’s recipes might be too complex for the amateur home cook. However, this is so much more than a cookbook. It is a voyage from the Toqué! kitchen in Old Montreal to the fields, forests, lakes and shores across this great province of ours. We are led on a discovery of some of Toqué!’s favourite producers who are beautifully portrayed throughout the 450-page volume. Each one of these unique individuals, from deer breeders to artisanal fishermen to foragers, has a special connection to the restaurant and its team.
I asked chef Laprise what his favourite recipe in the book was, the one he would recommend to someone if they could only make one thing. He turned to a recipe that started with “Kill the pig and wait a few minutes to make sure it’s dead”. I don’t think I’ll be trying that one anytime soon but it all goes back to Laprise’s philosophy of knowing where your food comes from and the journey it makes before it gets to your plate.
It would be a shame to talk about the book without mentioning Dominique Malaterre’s breathtaking photos, whether on site at the restaurant or criss-crossing the province in search of the perfect shot. She has managed to beautifully capture the Toqué! spirit. For a behind-the-scenes, sneak peak of this stunning book, take a look at this video:
Toqué! Creators of a new Quebec gastronomy, is available in all good bookstores as of November 28, 2012
Restaurant Toqué!, 900 Place Jean-Paul-Riopelle, (514) 499-2084