“Having poutine in our society is a luxury.”
“For me, it was a turning point, initiated by the locavore movement and propelled by Au Pied de Cochon,” says the owner of the Montréal restaurant (which opened in 2001) made famous thanks to its foie gras poutine. “It was the beginning of modern breweries where everyone was welcome, no matter how they dressed. We sold beer and Champagne, foie gras and poutine, with the goal of democratizing food.”
The famous foie gras poutine... Martin Picard had been itching to add it to his menu for quite some time. “I wanted to break that unspoken rule that says it should only be eaten late at night! Having poutine in our society is a luxury. To prove it, I added foie gras and created a foie gras sauce. It was love at first bite, but the dish had to become an international delight before Quebecers learned to be proud of it.”
At the height of happiness
While this new wind of change and pride took over Québec’s culinary identity, loads of celebrities began booking tables at Au Pied de Cochon. “When I think back on it, I still can’t believe it! All the marriage proposals, customers turned friends, closings with my staff; it’s the sum of all these moments that define us, even today. Wine and food has been uniting us for 20 years, for better or for worse. We connect to our true selves around the table, sharing with others.”
Martin has seen couples get married and return with their children, who then continue to visit the restaurant as adults. “Nothing makes me happier! The nuclear family (his son is 18 and his daughter 19) or the family we make along the way, that’s what gets us through tough times.” Martin has started unforgettable rituals with his Au Pied de Cochon gang: harvesting, making tomato sauce, pig roasts, lobster parties, etc. “It’s in our DNA. It’s important to let loose once in a while and have fun.”
“Le gin Guay. This cocktail was created by my biologist friend, Stéphane Guay, passionate about maple syrup, and a collaborator at the Pied de Cochon sugar shack. He adds Champagne to the gin. And don’t forget the secret ingredient: love!”
Le gin Guay
Makes 1 drink
45 ml (1 1/2 oz.) Mononcle gin
22 ml (3/4 oz.) tonic
22 ml (3/4 oz.) maple syrup
60 ml (2 oz.) champagne
A splash of soda
Serve in an Old Fashioned glass filled with ice.
Photos: Julien Faugère (Martin Picard and cocktail); Valeria Bismar (recipe).