Guide-Magazine Gaspesie Gourmande - - Sommaire - PHO­TOS DE MA­RI­LOU LE­VAS­SEUR

Ren­contre avec un pion­nier de l’uti­li­sa­tion des pro­duits ré­gio­naux et des es­pèces ma­rines du­rables en gas­tro­no­mie, de re­tour dans nos pages pour le 10e an­ni­ver­saire de notre pu­bli­ca­tion.

In its ve­ry first edi­tion, in 2006, the Guide-Ma­ga­zine pre­sen­ted an in­ter­view with Nor­mand La­prise, chef of the re­pu­ted Mon­tréal res­tau­rant To­qué! For the jour­nal’s 10th an­ni­ver­sa­ry, we wan­ted to of­fer our rea­ders the gift of a new in­ter­view with this pio­nee­ring ad­vo­cate for the use of re­gio­nal pro­ducts and sus­tai­nable ma­rine spe­cies in gas­tro­no­my.

De­ligh­ted that some lo­cal and re­gio­nal foods are now being used more of­ten at res­tau­rants in Qué­bec, Chef La­prise says there are se­ve­ral ex­pla­na­tions for this recent, but gro­wing trend. First of all, bet­ter avai­la­bi­li­ty. “What’s been achie­ved in terms of fruit and ve­ge­tables is fan­tas­tic! We can get Qué­bec straw­ber­ries five to six months per year,” he says by way of example, while poin­ting out that in the past they were in sea­son on­ly about th­ree weeks.

He al­so men­tions the flou­ri­shing com­pli­ci­ty bet­ween young chefs. “They un­ders­tand that they de­pend on the re­gions if they want to create great cui­sine and so they build bridges with them.” Fi­nal­ly, Chef La­prise points to the con­su­mer’s contri­bu­tion. “People strive constant­ly to im­prove their diet and ea­ting lo­cal­ly-sour­ced foods is one so­lu­tion. You have to ask where it comes from, how it’s been pro­ces­sed if you want to be sure you’re ea­ting well.”


By ban­king on the re­la­tion­ship of trust he has built with a cer­tain num­ber of pro­du­cers, Chef La­prise en­sures the qua­li­ty and consis­ten­cy of the meat he uses. “All far­mers make decisions re­gar­ding how they in­vest in their ani­mals: do they try to get their ani­mals to grow twice as fast by fee­ding them hor­mones and an­ti­bio­tics? Or raise 100-percent pu­re­bred ani­mals, out­side and with a bet­ter qua­li­ty of life?”

Ac­cor­ding to Chef La­prise, there’s still much to be done in the area of meat tra­cea­bi­li­ty. Not on­ly would it help consumers make in­for­med choices, he al­so be­lieves it could be a source of ad­ded va­lue for pro­du­cers. They would ob­tain re­cog­ni­tion for their ef­forts and the qua­li­ty of their pro­ducts, but al­so bet­ter prices.

The ef­fort to stop food was­tage is ano­ther one of the chef’s cru­sades. “We or­der the en­tire lamb… and we use the whole car­cass from A to Z, even the nose! We have to make the most of our pro­ducts.”


In March 2015, Chef La­prise at­ten­ded a mee­ting in Spain, or­ga­ni­sed as part of Ocea­na’s Save the Oceans and Feed the World cam­pai­gn. He and twen­ty other in­ter­na­tio­nal­ly renowned chefs dis­cus­sed ac­tions that would sup­port sus­tai­nable fi­shing; one of these is to pro­mote the consump­tion of small fish spe­cies that re­pro­duce qui­ck­ly. “It takes th­ree to four pounds of small fish like an­cho­vies and sar­dines to pro­duce a single one-pound sal­mon,” he says by way of illus­tra­tion.

Ac­cor­ding to the chef, her­ring and mac­ke­rel are small Qué­bec spe­cies that should be ser­ved more of­ten. In fact, they ap­pear on the me­nu at To­qué! whe­ne­ver pos­sible, next to other Gas­pé Pe­nin­su­la ma­rine spe­cies such as the ra­zor clam, whelk and sea ur­chin, which have all been cer­ti­fied as Smar­ter Sea­food1 in 2015.

As for the Gas­pé Pe­nin­su­la lobs­ter fi­she­ry, in March 2015, it was cer­ti­fied as sus­tai­nable and well-ma­na­ged by the Ma­rine Stewardship Coun­cil. Like lobs­ter from el­sew­here in Qué­bec, it has been mar­ke­ted with a tag gua­ran­teeing its pro­ve­nance (see the ar­ticle by Hé­lène Ray­mond on page 16) since 2012. “It’s a wild spe­cies. Tra­cea­bi­li­ty has to be gua­ran­teed,” points out Chef La­prise, who ap­pre­ciates its meat. “It in­ha­bits ro­cky sea beds in cold water, so it needs to ex­pend more ener­gy to feed, ma­king it ve­ry fla­vour­ful.”


Al­ways on the lookout for de­li­cious foods from our ter­roir, Chef La­prise points to the pro­blem of tran­spor­ta­tion. “It takes a distributor to make the con­nec­tion bet­ween pro­du­cer and chef,” he says. Ho­we­ver, he sa­lutes the work being done in this area by So­cié­té-Ori­gnal2, a crea­tive Qué­bec plat­form that fos­ters the de­ve­lop­ment and dis­tri­bu­tion of food pro­ducts.

Wor­king clo­se­ly with “fa­mi­lies and hu­man­si­zed bu­si­nesses”, the Mon­tréal en­ter­prise or­ders foods from them for niche mar­kets, ma­king it a point of ho­nour to of­fer them a fair price. These pro­ducts are then sold by So­cié­té-Ori­gnal through its on­line bou­tique or ship­ped to shops and res­tau­rants in Mon­tréal, New York and To­ron­to. “So­cié­té-Ori­gnal brings to­ge­ther a fine range of pro­ducts,” concludes Chef La­prise. Some ho­nou­red Gas­pé Pe­nin­su­la fa­mi­lies and small bu­si­nesses, in­clu­ding the Ma­thar-Ja­cob fa­mi­ly (Dou­glas­town), the Ar­bours (Bo­na­ven­ture), the Nor­mands (Mont-Louis) and Pê­che­ries Gas­pé­siennes (Ri­vière-au-Re­nard), will cer­tain­ly be fa­mi­liar to our rea­ders...

1. The Smar­ter Sea­food pro­gram (ex­plo­ra­mer.qc.ca/en/ smar­ter-sea­food), in­tro­du­ced in 2009 by Ex­plo­ra­mer in Sainte-Anne-des-Monts, pro­duces an an­nual list of the St. La­wrence ma­rine spe­cies that meet sus­tai­nable de­ve­lop­ment cri­te­ria.

2. so­ciete-ori­gnal.com

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