Chef Normand Laprise and business partner, Christine Lamarche, have been regaling dinners and promoting their suppliers for as long as they’ve been in business. Through Toqué!, they aimed to create a restaurant based on market-fresh cuisine where the emphasis is placed on local products. It has become a brilliant and on-going journey in culinary patriotism!
Normand who was recently inducted into the Order of Canada, hails from the southeast shore of the St. Lawrence River in the very French, very rural Kamouraska. It’s a place where the rhythm of life is dictated by the seasons and by the river where eel is still trapped in weirs and sturgeon was a culinary tradition. Laprise and Lamarche have made their mark. Not only is Normand a Rélais et Chateaux Grand Chef with Four Diamonds from CAA, Normand is a member of the Grandes Table du Monde and is the only Canadian on the Advisory Board of the Institut Paul Bocuse.
Yet it’s the real farmers and fishers and cheese-mongers whose images adorn the walls of their famous restaurant. His food honours them as much as it does his guests who Christine welcomes with warmth and sophistication.
It was in 1993, that they took the gamble that led them to becoming both chefs and owners of a gastronomic restaurant, in a city that was then in full recession. They have risen to the challenge by building strong relationships with producers which allow them to provide their customers with the lasting quality of local expertise. The first Toqué! was on St-Denis street and had 10 employees for a dining room that could accommodate 55 guests. After many renovations and refurbishments, the two partners agreed that the building no longer met their needs. In 2004,Toqué! moved to the heart of the Quartier international, where they would create a custom kitchen for their creative and visionary project.
The restaurant quickly accumulated the highest honors, including the CAA Four Diamond rating, as well as several reviews from magazines such as Wine Spectator, Gourmet, GQ Magazine and Food & Wine. The restaurant also houses the prestigious banner of Relais & Châteaux since 2006. Then, in the fall of 2012, Toque! launched its first cookbook entitled Toqué! Les artisans d’une gastronomie Québécoise. This 400-page tome is, of course, about cuisine and the philosophy behind the business, but also about the cooks, farmers, herders, gardeners and producers who have made our land what it is today. Since its release, the book has received a very warm welcome and has been especially awarded on May 3, 2013, from the James Beard Foundation Award for excellence in the category Cooking from a professional Point of view.
It is a great privilege to have Normand and Christine as part of Journée des terroirs / Food Day Canada ! For more details on what they are doing on Journée des terroirs check this link.
Joining Toque! is its more casual sister restaurant Brasserie T! where the Journée des terroirs menu will be available for a few days prior to August 5th.
Toqué! is one of about 250 restaurants that celebrate Food Day Canada across Canada. Contact them at the number below to reserve a table.
Toqué! est l’un des 250 restaurants à travers tout le Canada qui participent au Journée des terroirs. Contactez Toqué! directement, au numéro ci-dessous, afin de faire votre réservation.
900 Place Jean Paul Riopelle
Montreal, QC H2Z 2B2
T: 514 499 2084
Images by Benedicte Brocard