Q+A: Martin Picard
Montreal’s maverick chef
The rebel chef and owner of famed Montreal restaurant Au Pied de Cochon is obsessive in the kitchen. He’s traipsed the Quebec countryside hunting and foraging for authentic ingredients in his Food Network show The Wild Chef. He mastered pork and fois gras before focusing on maple. His second book, Au Pied de Cochon Sugar Shack, is part maple encyclopedia and part recipe book, with experimental dishes developed at the sugar shack he purchased in 2008. The shack has 4,000 maple taps and a restaurant where reservations for the February to May season book within hours.
When you are creating recipes, what is your starting point?
I think about the things that I enjoy and I would eat. I cook to please myself. I am very rational. I have to understand my life. But, when I am cooking, I am instinctive.
How do you challenge yourself?
Buying the sugar shack and doing the book was one way. I buy and then I shake after. It challenged me, but I like that because you need to work with your survival instinct.
Have you ever obsessed over an ingredient you haven’t loved?
Ginger. I don’t really like ginger, but I tried to find a way to like it. I was compulsive. I was working for the Bombardier family in Miami and I put ginger in everything. Finally, they had to say, “I don’t want to insult you, but please stop using ginger.” When someone tells you that, you realize they are so right. I still don’t really like ginger.
Originally published in up! magazine's July 2012 issue.