La Table Ronde: A force for change for Quebec gastronomy

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April 24th was a historic evening at the Château Frontenac; 35 renowned chefs and restaurateurs gathered for the founding meeting of the Table Ronde collective.

Indeed, this is the first time in history that so many influential actors of excellent independent restaurants have come together with the common goal of contributing to the growth and influence of Quebec gastronomy.

Following the disaster of government assistance to restaurants throughout the pandemic, the collective began to actively discuss with political leaders to make changes. Many of the major issues common to independent restaurants were discussed, and the Ministry announced a first grant of $990,000 to start. With this grant, the government officially and publicly recognizes the importance of gastronomy in Quebec as a vector of our collective identity and as an engine of social and economic development; it was about time!

The grant from the Quebec Ministry of Economy and Innovation will make it possible to launch the collective’s first two projects:

  1. A project to network restaurateurs and consolidate and grow the sector throughout Quebec
  2. A project to accelerate the development of niche products in Quebec (Quebec producers with local independent addresses)

“Stimulating Quebec production and purchasing is one of our government’s priorities to ensure the growth and sustainability of businesses in all regions. The Table Ronde has the potential to raise the profile of our producers and products. By supporting this project, we are giving it the means to realize its ideas and promote Quebec’s economic vitality,” said Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister of the Economy and Innovation and Minister responsible for Regional Economic Development.

This meeting was an opportunity to confirm the collective’s main goals, as well as appoint its board of directors. The board includes eight chef-owners and four external members.

What was understood from the meetings with the Table Ronde was that much of the lack of government support during the pandemic was due to the lack of organization of independent restaurant owners. The Table Ronde could therefore solve several problems by offering—for the first time in history—an organization representing independent restaurants, organizing their needs and providing strong arguments to make a real difference with public authorities.

“Get organized, join forces, and consolidate our know-how”

“Gastronomy in Quebec is the result of the hard work of chefs, restaurateurs and producers who have taken it upon themselves to develop and promote culinary culture locally and around the world. To go further, we need to get organized, to join forces and consolidate our know-how. This is what the Table Ronde collective will allow us to do,” said Normand Laprise, chef and co-owner of the Toqué! restaurant and one of the initiators of the collective, along with his wife Sophie Dormeau and Charles-Antoine Crête, chef and co-owner of the Montréal Plaza restaurant.

“The bluefin tuna of the St. Lawrence, the Trésor oysters from the Magdalen Islands, or the samphire from the Gaspé Peninsula are all niche products that contribute to the reputation of Quebec’s gastronomy; and are available thanks to the producers, breeders or harvesters who have put their heart and soul into marketing these authentic and unique products in recent years. Today, we want to go further, faster, and sustainably, by working together, with the support of the Quebec government,” added Denis Ferrer, producer associated with Pisciculture Kenauk Hatchery.

The Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, which commissioned an impact study on gastronomy a few months ago, welcomes this initiative.

“Montreal and Quebec are internationally recognized for the dynamism of their gastronomic scene. This is characterized by the quality of their establishments, the renown of the chefs who run them, as well as the diversity of the ecosystem of niche production. The Chamber is responding to the call from these chefs and restaurateurs to receive greater support from the business community. In this regard, it should be noted that the Chamber published, at the beginning of the year, the report ‘Chefs and independent restaurateurs in Quebec gastronomy: a lever for the economic relaunch of Montréal and Quebec’, to document the economic impact of the sector,” said Michel Leblanc, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal.

ABOUT THE COLLECTIVE

The work of the Table Ronde is overseen by a board of directors that includes established leaders in the culinary industry, as well as representatives from the business community:

The collective’s work and secretariat will be coordinated by Félix-Antoine Joli-Cœur of IdéesFX; an executive consulting firm that signed the impact study and the gastronomy roadmap commissioned by the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, and financed by the Ministry of Economy and Innovation. Patrick St-Vincent, who has 25 years of experience in the industry (Le Filet, BU), will be the project director.

The first 35 members of the Table Ronde are:

Through the Table Ronde collective, Tastet believes that we have a foot in the door to make real changes. This organization, composed solely of members of independent addresses, could be the official voice to the government and could have a considerable influence on the common problems that the industry faces.

We guarantee to be there to spread the good news and changes brought by the Table Ronde collective. And there will be plenty of good news to come!


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