BY SEBASTIEN ROBILLARD
Montreal sure as a lot to offer when it comes to food and food festivals. What some of you might not know is that the MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE asides from their multitude of activities also have a gourmet Series.
Thanks to MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE, presented by RBC in collaboration with Bell, February now means “gourmet heaven” in Montreal. And this 17th edition of the festival consolidates that reputation with an irresistible gastronomical presentation including hundreds of gourmet activities! Start with the incredible flavors of our grand featured city from China, Shenzhen—the prestigious first Asian guest in the history of MEL—as well as Boston, our featured American city, and Laval, our Québécois region to discover, but also the many other facets offered by our 50 festival’s Finest Tables, along with 9 series conceived to help fans design their own personal schedules from a program guaranteed to satisfy every appetite. And the excitement is right around the corner: February 18 to March 5, 2016!
Nine series to fill up your personal itinerary
Shenzhen, grand featured Chinese city
A rapidly growing city of immigrants, Shenzhen unites the gastronomical traditions of all the regions of China, honorably representing the eight great culinary traditions of the country. Its abundant natural resources make it an especially opportune location for Cantonese cuisine. Overflowing with colors, flavors, aromas and textures, this is a cuisine that changes with the shifting seasons. To offer us the best possible overview, MEL welcomes Anthony Dong, of the Futian Shangri-La in Shenzhen, who will present his Honorary President’s Dinners in the Renoir Restaurant, Sofitel Montréal, along with chefs Ruitian Yu of the Westin Shenzhen Nanshan hosted by Chez Chine (Holiday Inn Downtown), Mark Wu of the Grand Mercure Shenzhen Oriental Ginza hosted by Europea, and Scott Xu of the Grand Hyatt Shenzhen hosted by Toqué!
Boston, featured American city
Located at the junction of pastureland and sea, the city of Boston is a fertile source of gastronomic offerings. Unveiling the many facets of its fine dining, we welcome Tim Cushman, O Ya Restaurant (hosted by Maison Boulud), Tru Lang, Journeyman (Laurie Raphaël), Barbara Lynch, Menton (Pullman), Tim Maslow, Ribelle (État-Major), Jeremy Sewall, ROW34 (Verses), Lydia Shire, Scampo (Le Saint-Gabriel), Ana Sortun, Oleana Restaurant (Graziella) and Gregory Torrech, The Beehive (Alexandre et fils).
Laval, Québécois region to discover
Just north of Montreal lies another island bursting with culinary treasures. With its passionate chefs and diverse flavors, Laval has what it takes to surprise you. Our Finest Tables welcome chefs Richard Bastien, Le Mitoyen (hosted by Bistro Laurentien La Coupole), Vincent Raffin, Pâtisserie chocolaterie Raffin (Les Cons Servent) and Jonathan Ranger, Le 20 (EVOO), here to introduce us to the unique qualities of the Laval region. You can also enjoy products from 10 Laval specialty producers and transformers on the mezzanine of Jean-Talon Market and attend workshops hosted by Jean-Paul Grappe, chef-advisor to the festival, as well as 9 culinary masters from our guest region. Saturday, February 20, and Sunday, February 21, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A returning fan favorite, this clever and creative series combines outstanding public figures with fine dining establishments! On the “menu”: Montreal Canadiens General Manager Marc Bergevin (hosted by Le Richmond Griffintown), sommeliers Patrick Blondin and Nadia Fournier (both at Au Petit Extra), Jessica Harnois (Bistro Laurentien La Coupole), Élyse Lambert (Graziella), Guénaël Revel (Ikanos), the musicians of The Lost Fingers (Le Montréal) and Milk & Bone (Lili.Co), chefs Hakim Chajar (La Fabrique) and Patrice Demers (Accords), master chocolatier Yves Bonneau (Le Margaux), Ph. D. biochemist Richard Béliveau (Accords – Le Bistro), actors Ingrid Falaise (L’Autre Version) and Martin Watier (La Fabrique), media host Varda Étienne (L’Autre Version), designer Denis Gagnon (Accords), mixologist Lawrence Picard and businessman Alexandre Taillefer (both at Ikanos), as well as artists’ agent Martin Béliveau (La Fabrique).
And don’t forget the Free Spirits series, with chefs who create thematic evenings beyond the scope of the other series, along with the self-explanatory À boire!, 5 à 7+ and Brunchs et lunchs.
Anthony Dong: Honorary President’s Dinners
For the first time, restaurant Renoir will host the Festival’s Honorary President’s Dinners, showcasing this guest chef’s expertise in the culinary tradition of Huaiyang, with its aromatic and flavorful specialties. Experience two unique evenings with Anthony Dong, chef of the Futian Shangri-La in Shenzhen, who will prepare what promises to be an extraordinary seven-course meal, assisted by chef Olivier Perret and his brigade. Renoir Restaurant, Sofitel Montréal, Friday, February and Saturday, February 27, 6:30 p.m.
Convivial meals with Chinese flavor and flair, with chef Ruitian Yu
What better Montreal host for a Chinese convivial meal than Chez Chine? Located in Montreal’s Chinatown, the restaurant offers a daily showcase of Asian culinary culture, and now welcomes the chef of the Shenzen Westin, Ruitian Yu, bringing us influences fusing the cuisine of Guangdong with contemporary techniques, who will prepare a characteristic three-course Cantonese family meal. Chez Chine (Holiday Inn Montréal Centre-ville), Friday, February 26 and Saturday, February 27, 6:30 p.m.
Presenting Québec Chefs and Cheeses—Special Evening: Les Chefs!
An evening featuring the 4 chefs who made their mark as part of the Les Chefs! program on Radio-Canada. Our young chefs—Suzy, Pierre-Olivier, Francis and Antoine—must once again rely on their wits, imagination and daring in this special contest, concocting 12 culinary creations for 400 guests-judges using Quebec cheeses… with a shot at winning the $5000 prize offered by Les Producteurs de lait du Québec! Presented by Fromages d’ici. Saturday, February 20, 6:30 p.m., Grand Salon of the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth.
Festival of Quebec Cheeses
The popular event returns for a 10th edition, inviting the public to come down and meet Quebec’s finest cheese makers. They’ll be delighted to answer visitors’ questions, and discuss their creations and the regional distinctions that contribute the special taste and character to each of their cheeses. Everyone can taste Quebecois “classics” and make surprising discoveries, all while sampling excellent wines and beers. Presented by Fromages d’ici. Complexe Desjardins’ Grande-Place, Thursday, February 18 to Saturday, February 20. Free admission.
The Mondial des Cidres 2016
It’s a special event introducing everyone to the savoir-faire of twenty Quebec artisan cider producers and discover the full flavours of cider in all its special varieties. Complexe Desjardins’ Grande-Place, Thursday, February 25 to Saturday, February 27 (program and information: montrealenlumiere.com).
Sensory seminar on maple syrup—Flavour, science and sap
Le Coeur des sciences invites you to plunge into the incredible world of maple syrup. What makes a good maple grove, and how can we conserve our maple trees? Can we make syrup from other trees? Does maple syrup have qualities that can weaken certain bacteria and lower resistance to antibiotics? And what incredible possibilities does it offer to gourmets? With participating specialists. Agora Hydro-Québec, Cœur des sciences Pavilion, UQAM, Thursday, February 25, 6 p.m.
Apérofest: cocktails for all!
At MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE, “flavor” doesn’t end with food! We’re mixing up the party in cocktail form as well, since Montreal is increasingly recognized as a Cocktail Capital, and for its production of local spirits. To fully embrace this trend, we introduce Apérofest: a collection of cool, playful, fun encounters sure to tantalize your taste buds from every angle. Cheers! In collaboration with Ateliers & Saveurs, Invasion Cocktail and Lab, Comptoir à Cocktails (program and information: montrealenlumiere.com).
Pay Your Age!—The Winter Break week never tasted so good!
We all know kids love to play “grown-up”—why not indulge them by bringing them to a restaurant during the Winter Break? This original formula—children 16 and under pay the price corresponding to their age—introduces the kids to fine dining. And we’re not talking about the “kids menu”—we mean genuine gourmet fare! The principle is simple: a child of 6 pays only $6, a 16-year-old pays $16… it’s an incredible bargain! February 29 to March 5 (list of participating Finest Tables: montrealenlumiere.com)
La Tablée des Chefs: young apprentices enter the kitchens of our Finest Tables!
For the past 12 years, La Tablée des Chefs has assembled chefs and cooks to contribute to the battle against food insecurity. MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE renews its support for the cause, and offers young participants in the organization’s Brigades Culinaires program an experience in the kitchen with our chefs! For participating restaurants and special soirées, just look for the Tablée des Chefs logo in the Fine Dining program.
The Potluck: Montreal fine dining in real time
The PotluckMTL.com blog is back! PotluckMTL.com allows chefs, restaurateurs, festivagoers, bloggers and journalists to share content and discuss topics related to the festival, as well as Montreal fine dining in general. During preparations for MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE and throughout the event, Potluck also lets chefs and restaurateurs treat festival fans to exclusive behind-the-scenes info on their activities: photos, menus, recipes, etc. Best of all, Potluck aims to be a year-round blog; you’ll be able to follow (and participate in!) the gastronomy scene throughout the year, publish opinions, discoveries and suggestions, stay informed on the latest news and even find out last-minute changes and details on participating restaurants. In other words, it’s a perfectly accessible, welcoming, communal platform—like the festival itself!
Reservations are now being taken for the festival’s Finest Tables
Our fifty festival’s Finest Tables await you with hundreds of gourmet and wine offerings, and activities for every taste and budget. To draw up your own gourmet itinerary from our program, just visit montrealenlumiere.com (Fine Dining tab). Make your reservations now with the festival’s Finest Tables: Accords, Accords — Le Bistro, Alexandre et fils, Au Petit Extra, Bistro Beaver Hall, Bistro Laurentien La Coupole (Hôtel Le Crystal), Bistro Lustucru, Brasserie T! , Chez Chose, Chez l’Épicier, État-Major, Europea, EVOO, Flyjin, Graziella, H4C — Place St-Henri, Hambar, Helena, Hôtel Herman, Ikanos, La Chronique, La Fabrique, La Société Bistro (Hôtel Loews Le Vogue), Laloux, Laurie Raphaël Restaurant / Boutique, L’Autre Version, Le Balmoral, Le Local, Le Margaux, Le Montréal (Casino de Montréal), Le Mousso, Le Quartier Général, Le Restaurant de l’Institut (ITHQ), Le Richmond Griffintown, Le Saint-Gabriel (Auberge Saint-Gabriel), Le Valois, Les 400 coups, Les Cons Servent, Lili.Co, Maison Boulud (Hôtel Ritz Carlton), Mercuri, Pullman, Renoir (Sofitel Montréal Golden Mile), Restaurant Christophe, Toqué!, Verses (Hôtel Nelligan) and Vertige. We remind you that our Finest Tables greatly appreciate it when diners honor their reservations.