An article published by Yahoo! Canada today explores how poutine has evolved from a humble, Québécois casse-croûte staple to a cross-cultural culinary juggernaut. Regional, and even commercial, fast food twists on poutine have become de rigueur, far beyond the borders of la belle province, asserts contributor Stephanie Morris. Too true.
But the article errs when it credits the wrong Montreal chef for poutine's trendiness. Na'eem Adam, a Montreal blogger, and the co-promoter of a poutine festival, tells Yahoo! that riffs on poutine are "a practice that started with Montreal-based celebrity chef Chuck Hughes [at Garde Manger]."
"Maybe about ten years ago, he took a poutine and added lobster on top of it," he says. "It was a ‘lobster poutine’ and it was crazy. Everyone just went bonkers for it because I think it was the first time where somebody did something a little bit different. Since then, I think that’s where the trend has really picked up to do different things."
While Garde Manger's lobster poutine has become a hallmark, the simple truth is that chefs in the city were playing with poutine's three-ingredient fundamentals long before the Old Montreal restaurant came along in 2006. Martin Picard debuted foie gras poutine at Au Pied de Cochon in 2001—the dish has been on the menu ever since, and has been copied ad nauseam. Well before that, Joe Beef's Dave McMillan was serving luxurious riffs on poutine with the likes of duck confit, morels, white bolognese, Stilton, truffles—and, yes, lobster—at Globe. A busboy at the time, at the now bygone restaurant on Saint-Laurent boulevard, was Chuck Hughes.