Year of Production: 2017
In a banquet chaired by well-known food critic Lesley Chesterman, 10 benchmark dishes from Quebec history – one per decade – are served by their author or one of their descendants so we can better understand how a province once known for its French cuisine evolved into one with a worldwide reputation for great food all its own.
But how has Quebec evolved from its rudimentary culinary heritage to become one of North America’s premier culinary destinations?
It took many outside influences, hundreds of entrepreneurs, a receptive audience, and about a century to move from the taverns, snack-bars, pubs, and hotel restaurants of yesteryear to the exciting, unique, and hugely popular eating establishments of today.
In Montreal, the evolution of gastronomy began in the Old Port and gradually moved up the hill to the stock exchange district, where a number of restaurants set up shop to serve the bankers, notaries, and lawyers who worked in the city’s old business centre. As the neighbourhoods moved west, the restaurants followed suit.
In the 1950s, the great restaurants were well established in hotels like the Ritz and the Windsor. The predominantly male gastronomic clubs started up and private clubs welcomed the city’s elite into their exclusive dining rooms.
Expo 67 was a turning point in Quebec’s gastronomic history. Not only because many restaurants were opened for the millions of visitors expected at the World’s Fair, but also because many of the chefs and restaurateurs managing the restaurants there decided to stay on and try their luck in Montreal.
The period following Expo 67 confirmed Montreal as the incontestable centre of gourmet dining in Quebec. The establishments were numerous, but the truly great restaurants remained predominantly French.
In 1989, a new restaurant put an end to the trend of French domination. The name? Citrus. The chef? Twenty-eight-year-old Normand Laprise from the Lower St. Lawrence. A mere 4 four years after opening, Citrus was already having a phenomenal influence on the Montreal restaurant scene. Although the French chefs always found a place for local products in their menus, it was with Laprise’s blessing that local products really came into their own.
The tone was set. Vibrant, colourful, laid-back, with a deep and abiding love for local products direct from farmers and artisans: goodbye France and hello to the creation of authentic Quebec cuisine!
100 Ans à Table takes us deep into our culinary heritage for a better understanding of our future.
PRODUCTION COMPANY: Coco.TV Créations Inc.
Cast/Participants: Lesley Chesterman, Charles-Antoine Crête, Anne Desjardins, Hugue Dufour, Jean-Paul Grappe, Marcel Kretz, Normand Latries, Martin Picard, Colombe St-Pierre, Daniel Vézina