But it's not every day Toqué, one of Canada's finest restaurants, after two decades of recipe secrecy and silence, comes out of the shadows of its lauded kitchen and shares how its team has been making magic for years, arguably creating Quebec haute cuisine from scratch. Bad boy celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain even chimed in via his Montreal episode of The Layover, going as far as to claim that Montreal's Toqué “raised the profile of Canada to an international level almost singlehandedly."
More than a simple collection of recipes, Toqué! Creators of a New Quebec Gastronomy takes the cookbook format a step further to introduce the story and values of its original chef and co-founder, Normand Laprise, who grew up in farm territory 170km northeast of Quebec City, in small town Kamouraska.
But as much as you can take the boy out of the country, you can't take the country out of the boy, so the saying goes. And it's reflected in Laprise's approachable personality as much as it's present in his culinary philosophy, one that emphasizes the protection of endangered species, one reduces waste in the kitchen by using as many parts of a given ingredient as possible, and in the very heart of Laprise's manifesto is the copious, abundant use of local, Quebec-made and Quebec-grown products, values he's passed onto his right-hand man, chef de cuisine Charles-Antoine Crête, a notable trail-blazing rebel, if only for getting kicked out of Montreal's prestigious Institut de tourisme et d'hôtellerie du Québec for being "uncontrollable" and daring to have opinions that diverged from school management. But what would repel your standard human resources office did little to phase Laprise when the high-energy chef-to-be applied for a gig at Montreal's top restaurant. In fact, Laprise chuckled about it in a 2007 interview, stating that he took Crête's Institut ejection as a good sign, saying, "well, he must have talent then! It means he's got character, drive, and knows what he wants. So let's see [what he can do]."
Generously allowing me to publish a few pages from Toqué! Creators of a New Quebec Gastronomy, the recipes below should give a fair inkling as to what Crête, and Laprise, can do.
Distributed by Chapters/Indigo as of November 28, 2012, Toqué! Creators of a New Quebec Gastronomy can be purchased online.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go find a drool bucket.