From the first page of Chuck's Day Off, you're invited into pictures, recipes, and stories about the people in Montreal chef Chuck Hughes' life. A shot of the chef embracing his half Rottweiler, half German shepherd, Filou, sets the tone for Chuck's narrative as he spends 283 pages showing appreciation. It's a beautiful concept that involves the reader. From the landlords at Garde Manger, to the kitchen staff who give their all, to the women who have influenced his career, Chuck's Day Off offers a closer look into this cast of characters and the incredible recipes that honor them.
Chuck Hughes at Le Bremner
It has been 8 years since Montreal chef Chuck Hughes opened Garde Manger. In that time, it has become a home to classic, fresh seafood staples, and one of the most talked about restaurants in the city. Garde Manger has earned its buzz. Most of us expect to see lobster risotto and fresh oysters on the menu at all times. More than anything, we all want that winning lobster poutine that earned Chuck the big-win on Iron Chef America against Bobby Flay. Since then, he has opened his second restaurant, Le Bremner, in Old Montreal. From hosting his own travel cooking show, Chuck's Week Off: Mexico, to his newly appointed judging duties on Chopped Canada, Chuck Hughes is evolving from local chef to a traveling representation for Montreal's current food culture.
After 8 years of riding the wild adventure that has been the success of his restaurants, cooking shows, and cookbooks, Chuck is ready to move forward as a mentor. In a conversation about his travels, Chuck took the time to talk to me about becoming a new dad and how he's ready to spend a year living in Mexico.
Wind and chill begin to settle in on this overcast Friday afternoon in Montreal. I'm walking to Marche Tania and I'm as prepared as I can be. I've got my tape recorder in my pocket and my notepad and lucky pen in hand. I don't know much about the guy I'm meeting, but I know his store and I've heard some of the nicest things. Walking through the small streets from where I was on Clark, the city is peaceful in Little Italy. It may be grey out but the market is business as usual with cyclists and walkers roaming from one stall to the next. Though vendors have set up indoors, the colors are vibrant and the smells are fresh.
Fresh chestnuts from Italy
As a native Montrealer, I have spent most of my life exploring the city and writing about it. With all the "old" that comes with Montreal, there is tradition behind it all. Local food markets have been neighborhood staples for decades. Whether you're looking for farm fresh vegetables or seasonal fruit, you can be sure your vendor is a figurehead for the neighborhood they sell to. The Jean Talon Market has been providing locals with product and produce that is worthy of our bistro's, cafe's, and family dinner tables.
I grew up at the Jean Talon Market - slow afternoons, walking up and down the isles of colors deep and bright. There's a history I have with the market that has kept me invovled. I took the time to write, narrate, and interview local marketgoers in this digital advertisement for the market last summer.
A locavore is an individual who is concerned with eating food that is grown within proximity to their region over imported food.
Even with local farming becoming increasingly available, affordable and accessible, the percentage of imported products continues to rise. Locavores support local farming and local eating in order to stay as closely connected to their food resources as possible, with the goal of easing economic, environmental and health issues.
This backgrounder takes a look at the role of the Jean Talon Market in Montreal and how its presence within the city has contributed to a local food movement.
Eating locally encourages a food system within proximity that provides locals with sustainable produce. Fresh produce markets play a major role in Montreal's food culture. Four larger, well-known markets - Jean Talon, Atwater, Maissoneuve and Lachine - make up for most of the local produce that is sold in Montreal, making it easy for locals to eat the freshest, shortest-distance traveled food. Therein lays the outstanding belief and value that the local Jean Talon market stand behind - local farming and eating local in order to help Montreal sustain itself with fresh food.
Though eating locally sounds like a trendy term adopted by foodie's, purchasing local produce is actually beneficial to your health, as well as the environment. Even with a bounty of information available on the web, questions remain; questions that make local eating sound extreme, out of reach and expensive.
Montreal is home to a variety of fresh food markets that offer Quebec grown produce. The Jean Talon Market, the most popular, has a long history with Montrealers. Providing locals with food that has been grown in their province is one value you can't buy in the grocery store. When the vendor is the same person who grew your food, you know you've reached a community of locals who believe in supporting Quebec while also living healthier lifestyles.
Is eating local really all it's cracked up to me? Here are 5 common myths debunked about local eating that will challenge you to see how a trip to one of Montreal's many markets will change the way you think about fresh food.
Top 5 Myths:
Do you know where your food has been?
Live a local life.
The local food movement in Montreal is a way of life more so than a trend. Locally grown food that is sold to you by the very person who grew it has quickly become recognized for its accessibility within the city. This wholesome and healthy approach to buying local is now easier than ever to attain. Home to over a dozen fresh produce markets sprawled across the city, this guide has complied four of the best internet resources to find out where these local markets are and what you need to know about them. In addition, check out the Top 5 list of sites that help answer why buying locally grown produce is important for your health.
4 Resources on Local Montreal Markets
Top 5 Resources to Discover the Benefits of Local Eating
Walking around Mile End is like checking historic points off of a neighborhood map. For decades, Montrealers have coveted their Mile End favorites like the St. Viateur bagel bakery, open 24/7 and a neighborhood staple since 1957. The old Rialto on Parc Avenue, though having gone through several ownership changes, has survived with all its charm and structural integrity since the 1920s. And then there's Rotisserie Laurier BBQ. A neighborhood landmark since 1936, this Mile End restaurant is on its way to becoming something bigger and better. After 75 years, Rotisserie Laurier BBQ and Gordon Ramsay are about to deal some risky business.