If you find yourself in the Gaspésie in mid- September, you may want to make a special stop at the Les Jardins de Métis/Reford Gardens for the first edition of La Grande Table – Culinary Festival being held Friday September 16 to Sunday, September 18. This brand new festival celebrates the Quebec culinary identity encompassing local, regional (Gaspésie and the Lower St. Lawrence) and provincial delicacies. The Gaspésie region if full of wonderful food and this festival will bring together all those people that are part of the food sector: market gardeners, farms, producers, restaurateurs, and chefs!
The setting of the festival will be only compliment the food. As a visitor to the Les Jardins de Métis/Reford Gardens in August, I have to let you know that it was my favourite stop on a 6 day tour of the region. The gardens are carefully maintained and extensive on this approximate 120 acres estate. The care that is taken to maintain this whole estate is one of deep seeded pride by Alexander Reford, historian and director of Les Jardins de Métis (and grand-nephew of Elsie Reford- novice gardener that over 30 years became a well seasoned and knowledgeable horticulturist ). Visiting Les Jardins de Métis/Reford Gardens can be done in one day but why would you miss out on so many wonderful events through the weekend? When we toured, I realize we only had a small glimpse: there was the house with memorabilia, photography and furnishings. As we walked around the gardens and later lunched at Estevan Lodge , it was easy to see that the estate has made a commitment to the region to bring great food to the table whether it is grown in the Chef’s garden or the sheep and cattle graze the fields.
#TBT #ThrowbackThursday to my travels to #QuébecMaritime desperately want to return to the breathtaking gardens of the @jardinsdemetis for the La Grande Table – Culinary Festival this weekend. This first edition Culinary Festival highlights local, regional and provincial delicacies of the Gaspesie and Lower Saint Lawrence regions of Quebec. Attend a master cooking class, sample light libations from a host of micro-breweries. Or watch a friendly competition between 5 chefs creating main dishes with unique ingredients. Maybe you want to picnic on a custom built Grande Table and eat in the largest garden north of the 48th parallel. Maybe you would enjoy a gourmet dinner made by three chefs representing the three cultures that established our nation: English, French and Indigenous. Enjoy La Grande Table festival this weekend, September 16th to September 18th in Grand Metis, Gaspésie, Québec.
La Grande Table Culinary Festival is another step forward in bringing into focus the culinary talent and gastro-tourism that can be easily found in many of the regions of Quebec. The Quebec Maritime and Lower St. Lawrence regions are famous for their seafood offerings and as you know well, incorporating agriculture and gourmet/food tourism has become a more important aspect for the world traveller. Whether it is taking a cooking class or traveling a wine route, having the opportunity to dine on local produce, seafood, dairy or game is an attraction to the region. On my tour of the Gaspésie region I was able to sample bison, halibut, smoked salmon, artisanal cheeses and fine wines and a few fine pale ales. My lunch at the Estevan Lodge Restaurant of the Les Jardins de Métis/Reford Gardens was delightful and as pleasing to the eye as the palette. The Chef, Pierre-Olivier Ferry, is a National Bronze Winner of the Grands Prix du Tourisme and Gold Winner of the Canada Good Food Innovation Award, and has been at Estevan Lodge for over 11 years.
His talents will be tested, yet again, as he competes with 5 other Chefs in a friendly culinary competition that will be live-streamed on lagrandetable.tv. on Saturday, September 17 from 9 am to 11:30 am. Although the telecast will be mainly in French, you are not likely to miss much as you watch these chefs at work as they create a dish with five unknown products from the region’s larder: seaweed, shoreline plants, foraged produce from the forest floor, camelina oil and gluten free flour. They will produce a main course that will be judged by a jury comprising members of the public – get your tickets fast. I can imagine that there will be an abundance of mushrooms as was the case in my meal.
After a small sampling of Chef Ferry’s menu, I would jump at the chance to attend this Culinary Festival. The possibility of enjoying a sample of beers from regional microbreweries on Friday night, having a picnic lunch (from at the Café Pavot bleu or the Café Jardin ) and sitting at one of the three Grande Tables that have been designed for just this event. Place throughout the property, I would encourage you to visit the Landscape Architectures installations that were part of the International Garden Festival.
You can see from the breakdown below that this event is well worth the 3.5 hour drive north of Quebec City. I am planning my next visit either in the spring or early summer next year to take in the International Garden Festival just to take in the interactive installations from artist from around the world. Or maybe, I’ll have to return for the Second edition of La Grande Table – Culinary Festival.
If you go… this is what you should know:
- Presentations and Master Classes | Friday, September 16 and Saturday, September 17
Presentation on new trends and innovation in the world of food. They are led by leaders in the fields of food production. The subjects broached explore the three pillars of the region’s landscape: the St. Lawrence, the fields and the forest.
Master classes are moments where a select few can work with experienced chefs. The small group (6 participants maximum) environment offers a unique opportunity to hone your skills. Recipes, favourite products, culinary approach and much more.
For the Complete Program: lagrandetable.tv
- 5 à 7 – Producers and Microbreweries | Friday September 16, 5 pm
The first day ends with a 5 à 7 with the region’s producers and microbrewers from the Lower St. Lawrence and Gaspésie regions. Beer tasting, culinary delights from the Lower St. Lawrence, the field and the forest, followed by a festive celebration. An amazing opportunity to network!
- Concours de chefs and Web Broadcast | Saturday, September 17, 9 am to 11.30 am
Five chefs participate in a culinary competition live in the kitchens of Estevan Lodge. This friendly competition offers five unknown products from the region’s larder: seaweed, shoreline plants, foraged produce from the forest floor, camelina oil, gluten free flour, etc. During the competition, the public will watch the chefs at work on screens in Estevan Lodge. Also on view will be short clips of the producers preparing the produce used during the competition. You will have an opportunity to follow the chefs live on the web vialagrandetable.tv.
- Banquet des Origines | Saturday September 17, 6.30 pm, Estevan Lodge, $150 (Dinner, wine, taxes and service)
Le Banquet des Origines explores the three culinary influences that has shaped our cuisine: the First Nations, French cuisine and English cuisine. The chefs bring together their expertise to create a rich menu of Québec’s culinary identify. Each plate will illustrate the influences and the mixing of these three intertwined traditions.
The Chefs: Guillaume Cantin on French cuisine (winner of the first edition Les Chefs), Pierre-Olivier Ferry on English cuisine (Chef, Jardins de Métis) and Steven Larocque, a Micmac from the Gesgapegiag Reserve, on First Nations cuisine.
The co-animators of the evening are Michel Lambert, historian and founder of the Cuisine patrimoniale du Québec and Alexander Reford, historian and director of Les Jardins de Métis. They will enliven the evening with their anecdotes and true stories from the wonderful world of cuisine.
- Espace Famille | Saturday, September 17, from 10 am to 4 pm
The Espace Famille is an area dedicated entirely to children. Movies for kids on culinary themes will be presented in collaboration with the Carrousel international du film de Rimouski. Exploramer and the Fourchette Bleue program will bring their inflated submarine where children will be able to immerse themselves in the underwater world of the St. Lawrence. Chef Annie Lavoie will offer culinary workshops for children from ages 5 to 12 to explore the five senses.
- Marché des Producteurs | Saturday September 17, from 12 noon to 5 pm
Between two presentations, meet the producers and farmers of the Lower St. Lawrence and Gaspésie regions. Tastings are scheduled at 1.45 pm, 3 pm and 4.15 pm.
- Landscape interventions and Lunch
Architect Pierre Thibault and his workshop have built three GRANDE TABLES, oversized tables that have been designed especially for the event. These installations will be integrated at three venues on site in line with the three themes, the St. Lawrence, agriculture and the forest. Purchase a picnic lunch at the Café Pavot bleu or the Café Jardin and enjoy these amusing installations.
- La Grande Table Round Table | Sunday, September 18, from 10 am to 12 noon, $25
The Festival will end with the Grande Table Round Table on Sunday morning. Around a brunch, participants are invited to join in a round table with three panellists on the subject of culinary identify. A manifesto will be written by author Stéphanie Pelletier during the round table.
I was the guest of @QuebecMaritime in August where I was introduced to the beautiful Les Jardins de Métis/Reford Gardens. All opinions are my own.