Les­sons en Français

Sara Wax­man finds that French cui­sine is alive and well in the joie de vivre of Mon­treal

DINE and Destinations - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - www.ritz­carl­ton.com/mon­treal www.mon­trealen­lu­miere.ca/en-ca www.mtl.org

France's best chefs cook it up at Mon­tréal en Lu­mière

In mid win­ter, Mon­treal en Lu­miere, the renowned an­nual food and wine fes­ti­val, takes over the city with de­lec­ta­ble din­ing that speaks elo­quent French with a Que­be­cois ac­cent. Food and wine is one of the six deities in Mon­treal, along with re­li­gion, hockey, danc­ing, cy­cling and l’amour. The most renowned chefs from Lyon in France, the fea­tured city, and Miche­lin star chefs from the Delice Net­work have come to Canada to com­mem­o­rate Mon­treal’s 375th an­niver­sary. Il­lu­mi­nat­ing their C.V.S, they’ve gath­ered to cook, to dine and to share the de­li­cious star­dust that is French cui­sine. To Mon­treal­ers and vis­it­ing food­ies this is a dream come true.

Chef Christophe Lherm, of Les Trois Domes in Lyon presents a mag­nif­i­cent menu at Renoir that in­cludes truf­fle farm-raised poul­try; a cit­rus zest lob­ster with pink grape­fruit and gin­ger jelly in an ex­trav­a­gant style that speaks of Renoir. Shall we eat it or frame it? At Le Bou­chon Ly­on­nais, Chef Joseph Vi­ola, M.O.F., of Daniel and Denise in Lyon, shows us a new re­spect for fresh whole fish and ad­dic­tive fried pota­toes. Art­fully cu­rated wines ac­com­pany the menus at all par­tic­i­pat­ing restau­rants.

Mai­son Bouloud in the Ritz Carl­ton Ho­tel is the hot ticket in town. Here, the ven­er­ated Jérôme Bocuse and Christophe Muller of Au­berge du Pont des Col­langes in Lyon join with Chef Daniel Bouloud and Ric­cardo Ber­tolino to cre­ate out­stand­ing evenings of gas­tron­omy and wine to a sold out venue.

“To be hon­est,” says Jerome Bocuse, “As a child I had no in­spi­ra­tion to be­come a chef.” Hav­ing watched how hard his fa­ther, Paul Bocuse, had worked from early morn­ing to late at night, he was not in­ter­ested. “I was ski­ing at a very high level, and had an ac­ci­dent,

“What­ever level you are work­ing, whether it’s at a sim­ple kitchen or a three-star res­tau­rant, you have to give the same love; the same dis­ci­pline” —JÉRÔME BOCUSE

then I re­al­ized that my ca­reer as an ath­lete was over.” Jérôme stud­ied at the CIA in New York, then spent 20 years in Orlando, in charge of the restau­rants at the French Pavil­ion at the Epcot Cen­ter in­tro­duc­ing Amer­i­cans to haute French cui­sine.

The corps of servers at Mai­son Bouloud im­presses us with their man­ners as each course is pre­sented with de­served flour­ish. Din­ner be­gins with an el­e­gant over­ture: del­i­cate Lob­ster Nage, Puilly-fuisse, cream of cau­li­flower with gin­ger, a dol­lop of Osci­etra caviar, and a glass of cham­pagne. We’re hon­oured to have the op­por­tu­nity to taste Soupe de Truffes Valery Gis­card d’es­taing. “This is an iconic dish my fa­ther did for the French Pres­i­dent in 1975,” says Jerome, “and since we are in prime truf­fle sea­son right now I think it was great to put this dish on the menu.”

Red Mul­let, flown in from France, comes dressed to the nines in crusty po­tato scales be­side a swath of rose­mary cream. Chicken cooked in a blad­der with fleurette sauce and morel mush­room rice and vegeta­bles is an as­ton­ish­ing feat of culi­nary dex­ter­ity. A suit­able end­ing to this ex­trav­a­ganza is the Queen of Reinette tatin with pis­ta­chio ice cream and saf­fron English cream.

Paul Bocuse was one of the first chefs in­volved in Lu­miere in 2000, so Jérôme felt it was a good op­por­tu­nity to at­tend. He tried Pou­tine, and says, “I’m glad I did,” he tells me, “Be­cause we al­ways need com­fort food. The chef ex­plained where he farmed his pota­toes, and took great pride in telling me how he made the cheese and sauce. “I felt con­nected to this. That’s what it’s all about. What­ever level you are work­ing, whether it’s at a sim­ple kitchen or a three-star res­tau­rant, you have to give the same love; the same dis­ci­pline.” Paul Bocuse is over 90 years old and still has chefs com­ing to him for ad­vice. He tells them, “Go back to the kitchen.” Jérôme feels that a lot of chefs don’t know about cook­ing any­more, “it’s just about busi­ness and cam­eras.” He is faith­ful to his fa­ther’s cui­sine. “Our team shares his val­ues. We’re not go­ing to rein­vent the wheel; we’re just go­ing to make sure the wheels keep on spin­ning. When you ask my fa­ther, what did you change in 50 or 60 years, he says, noth­ing but the sheets in my bed.” Jerome truly be­lieves that the younger gen­er­a­tion will know about clas­sic cui­sine, “Be­cause it’s not trendy; it’s like mu­sic or art. There will al­ways be a place for Mozart, and there will al­ways be a place for clas­sic cui­sine.”

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