What’s cooking in Montreal? – Restobiz
With a diverse population and a rich, ingrained history and culture, one of the many things Montreal is famous for is its thriving food scene propagated by a variety of talented and innovative chefs from all walks of life.
The Club House for Chefs was fortunate to spend time with four chefs who help keep this tradition alive through a combination of invention, uniquely home-brewed recipes and menus, and local food sourcing.
Chef Chanthy Yen: the Canadian king of Cambodian cuisine
Raised in his Cambodian grandmother’s Windsor kitchen after his family fled the Civil War, Yen has taken Canada’s culinary landscape by storm with his passion for this underrated and underrepresented cuisine. The former executive chef of the British Parliament pub opened the Cambodian pop-up Touk in the same building during the initial pandemic shutdown and is also writing the very first Cambodian cookbook in Canada. He ultimately intends to give Touk a permanent home in Montreal or Vancouver.
“It turned out to be a huge success, not only for myself or for Touk, but for Cambodian cuisine as a whole, which I was able to highlight internationally,” Yen explains of the concept. Touk. “My favorite food right now is Nom Banh Chok. It’s something my grandmother taught me to do and it’s a dish that I still love to make. It’s the dish that resonates the most with the crowd that comes here, even those who are trying it for the first time.
Yen explains that most Cambodians in Canada arrived as refugees during the Cold War and many have not tasted the dishes or flavors he has been using for a long time, creating an emotional and sensory experience. “For those who haven’t eaten it for a long time, it’s very sincere, almost dramatic. I have had guests who cried while eating it because they were torn from their families and their surroundings. For people who are trying it for the first time, it almost feels like a Michelin star experience as you get the sensational full body experience eating Cambodian food, which is fragrant, fresh and new to the world. North American scene.
Dan Geltner: A Culinary History in Montreal
Having spent his entire life in Montreal, raised on Israeli and Jewish cuisine, Geltner considers the Hof Kelsten deli and bakery to be a home from home. The concept, he explains, is a French bakery with a Jewish twist based on the concept of using traditional homemade recipes. Sourcing local and organic ingredients in Montreal and using products like Club House La Grille® Montreal Steak Spice, Geltner has built a reputation for popular staples including a brisket sandwich, house smoked salmon and rye bread.
“I was born and raised in Montreal, going to all the best delicatessens in town,” says Geltner. “I always say that I try to make things look as much like the delicatessens I grew up with while trying to bring a lot of modern trends to the original flavors… I can bring my experience to the food here. “
During the pandemic, they changed their operations to focus more on restaurant wholesaling rather than retail. As Geltner says, “we sell more through the back door than the front door”. With a long-standing loyal following, Geltner hopes to develop the Hof Kelsten brands and perhaps one day expand into the sale of sauces to grocery stores. For now, however, he is content to bring a little of his experience and education to hungry Canadians.
Nicolas Salinas: A great time for food services in Montreal
Since growing up in a Chilean family and becoming a home cook at the age of 16, Salinas has become a self-taught chef and co-owner. “Montreal is pretty much all parts of the world, all mixed up, but the European part is where a lot of techniques come into play,” says Salinas. “I’m from South America and I put my South American flair into everything I try to do. I have done many types of cuisines including Indian, Asian, French and Montreal is an open minded platform for any type of cuisine.
As part of the menu he’s working on, Salinas likes to use Keen’s dry mustard, which he describes as an under-served product that chefs and cooks don’t commonly use as a main ingredient. “It’s very powerful and there is bitterness,” he explains. “The flavor profile helps a lot with other spices like paprika, cumin and pepper. Overall, that makes a nice balance.
During the pandemic, former chef Barroco launched Super Loco, a pop-up alleyway based on Chilean flavors, before making the tough decision to shut it down as he struggled to pay rent, staff, and living expenses. food during difficult times. “I made the dough from scratch, working in a factory, while being the single father of my son,” he explains. “I was always trying to encourage my team and give them more hours and take less for me, so they could have a full pay. I was barely making any money myself, I headed for the drain. I couldn’t go on like this.
It remains very close to his heart, however, and never far from his mind. “If I find a local in the street where there is traffic, I will consider a return of Super Loco.”
Antoine Morneau: From Busboy to Pizza Man
Morneau, who has risen through the ranks to leading the ever-changing cuisine and menu at Fugazzi Pizza, notes how much the Montreal pizza scene has changed over the past decade. “Ten years ago, there was Pizza Hut, Pizza Pizza, and other very commercial pizzas,” he notes. “Little Italy was starting to do more [independent] pizzas and was all the rage with Montrealers. Fugazzi Pizza fits into this more artisanal scene.
Morneau takes great pride and care in offering a vegan artisanal pizza that uses only Quebec ingredients for the dough and offers flexibility to meet changing customer preferences. “We do a lot of sweet and sour,” he explains. “One example is adding honey to the spicy sauce. We love it because it pops in your mouth with the intensity of Fugazzi.
He also knows the value of incorporating products like Frank’s RedHot® Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce and Club House La Grille® Smoky Cedar Seasoning in its preparations to add an extra layer of flavor and intensity. “I use Frank’s RedHot Sauce with beef for the tangy flavor of the Club House Seasoning, which works great. It adds a nice spice to the tomato sauce, which for me is a staple. Don’t be afraid to use them everywhere. If you like something spicy, Frank’s RedHot® The original cayenne pepper sauce is perfect. Plus, Club House spices go with just about everything: chicken, fish and beef, of course.
While he’s here, we asked Morneau to sort out an all-time pizza debate: does pineapple belong in pizza? ” Of course yes ! “