The latest edition of festival Omnivore in Montreal celebrated local food through the work of the best chefs around and lots, lots of fun.
Between Omnivore & Montreal, there’s a love story. It has been five years now and after spending the last edition talking, meeting with chefs, and tasting fabulous products, we are confident it is going to last.
Featuring Ségué Lepage from Le Comptoir Charcuterie et Vins, Michel Ruel and Mathhieu Gauthier from Isle de Garde brewery, Samuel Pinard from La Salle à Manger, Marc-Alexandre Mercier from Hotel Herman, Simon Mathys from Accords and many others, this fourth edition has seen both known and new faces gracing its stands, proof that the festival is keen on strengthening existing relations as well as on developing new ones. And we won’t complain!
It’s always a pleasure to hear passionate chefs talk about their products and the chefs at Omnivore did not disappoint. Todd Perrin from Mallard Cottage in St. John’s talked about cod at length while preparing boudin blanc for the crowd: "The story goes that when John Cabot came over in 1487, the ships literally slowed down as they approached Newfoundland because there was so much fish in the water. I wasn’t there so I take their word for it." It was also a thrill to hear Samuel Pinard from La Salle à Manger share his love of produce, particularly that of his main producer, M. Bertrand, who provides the chef with fresh fruits and veggies since the opening of his restaurant. On the subject of producers, it would be a crime not to mention the delicious chanterelles from Gaspésie Sauvage that delighted so many people those four days, as well as Fleur en bouche’s flowers used so delicately by Cirkus’ Julien Joré and Stéphanie Labelle in their demo. Céline Bélec was also present, proudly representing Ferme Nordest’s grass fed beef. Among all these diverse demonstrations of culinary skill, two mottos were omnipresent. In the words of Perrin:
"Fresh ingredients" and "Make it taste good"
All three chefs who cooked that night followed those guidelines to the tee. Anton Kovalkov from Moscow, Romain Tischenko from Paris, and Jason Morris from Montréal prepared a 6 course menu starring some of the freshest local products: creamy goat cheese, marinated cucumbers and grilled pickles from the Jardinets de la Paysanne; scorched cobs of corn with braised pork and homemade salsa verde; cotton-like white fish with miso sauce and kale from the market; beef tartare from Nordest with grapefruit juice; tarragon ice-cream with sorrel granita. Québec’s natural bounty was evident in these masterful dishes, lending an incredible range of flavours and textures.
But good food needs good friends to share it with, and that night everybody shared: chefs with diners, diners with each other, and producers with chefs. Omnivore is indeed a love story -between a festival and a city, but more importantly between eaters and a land.