Meet Nathalie Lessard, Tadoussac's burgeoning poutine magnate

Quebec‘s reigning poutine queen has a secret and sure, she’s prepared to share it with the adoring plenty.

Should you aspire to fries-sauce-and-curds greatness, it is all in regards to the animal fats.

“To make the most effective poutine at house, you have to use my sauce, Le Connaisseur… For the french fries, you have to prepare dinner them in Tenderflake fats. , the one you employ to make pies?” stated Nathalie Lessard, prepare dinner and proprietor of Casse-croûte Le Connaisseur in Tadoussac, on the Decrease North Shore.

“Or you need to use duck fats if you wish to spend extra money. It offers a style that is totally different, like fries from Belgium.”

Mix with recent cheese curds (Lessard sources hers from La Malbaie) and also you’re good to go.

Whereas the origins of Quebec‘s signature contribution to the fast-food canon are disputed—one could be on Group Drummondville or on Group Warwick, however not each—there is just one regional casse-croûte sauce combine that received a Quebec-wide distribution deal this previous summer time, and it’s Lessard’s.

At age 24, she was finding out anthropology in Montreal however her true passions lay elsewhere.

“I used to work part-time in a restaurant. I liked my job on the restaurant and so I made a decision to purchase a restaurant. However shopping for a restaurant, you want some huge cash so I made a decision to purchase a casse-croûte,” she advised CBC Quebec‘s Breakaway earlier this week. 

As to why it occurred to be this specific ‘cantine’, which has operated since 1966 out of a trailer in Quebec‘s whale-watching capital, effectively that is one other story completely.

Lessard’s mom occurred to be travelling within the Decrease North Shore shortly earlier than visiting her daughter in Montreal.

“She noticed a [for sale] signal on the meals truck in Tadoussac,” Lessard stated. “Two months after [that] I moved to Tadoussac and started to make french fries.”

Nathalie Lessard’s poutine sauce, Casse-croûte Le Connaisseur, is on retailer cabinets throughout the province. (Radio-Canada)

It was 2004. She took over the enterprise from its iconoclastic founder, an area entrepreneur referred to as Claude Lapointe who had determined to retire. There was a model and an ethos to uphold.

Lapointe, she stated, was “a very humorous man who used to name all his prospects Monsieur Tremblay. I stored the identical title and the identical colors and every little thing and tried to maintain up the story.”

It is taken a whole lot of work, however that is what Lessard has executed.

First, she commissioned a Montreal meals companies firm to create a poutine sauce recipe to her specs (it is chicken-based). Two years in the past, she purchased a cellular meals truck so as to unfold the nice phrase to neighbouring areas and summer time festivals. And in 2019, she purchased a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Les Bergeronnes, a 20-minute drive up the St. Lawrence coast. 

Lessard has been promoting her poutine sauce combine in native grocery shops for a short while (“I did meals tastings … I gave a whole lot of poutines to individuals,” she stated) and that is how she caught the attention of Marc Giroux, the chief vice-president of grocery big Metro Inc.

“Earlier than coming he stopped in La Malbaie at a grocery retailer, he noticed my show … and I suppose he appreciated the branding and potential,” she stated. “On the meals truck, whereas he was ready for the lavatory, he spoke with my husband Stéphane, I used to be too busy cooking french fries and burgers.”

Evidently he appreciated what he heard. Emails had been despatched, a gathering was arrange, and a deal was shortly negotiated.

An in a single day success, then, that was solely 16 years within the making. 

“It is like a dream come true,” Lessard stated.

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