Five questions for… Colombe St-Pierre
March 8th marks International Women’s Day. Tastet would like to highlight the invaluable contribution of women to Quebec society, both in the restaurant industry and in other sectors. This week, as part of our “5 questions for…” series of articles, we meet women who inspire us. Whether they are restaurateurs, chefs, artistic personalities, or professional athletes, we are always delighted to learn more about these women who brighten our daily lives. These wonderful encounters spark an enthusiasm in us that we naturally want to share with our readers. And so, we invite you to discover some of Tastet’s favourite women with a few playful Q&A’s throughout the week.
You can’t fit Colombe St-Pierre into any box. She is eclectic, confident, curious, driven, and militant! She is also a wonderful friend, and the confinement has prevented her from seeing her friends who she misses very much. In fact, she feels best when sharing a meal in a group, on a big common table, whether we know each other or not. Generosity is important to her. We have often read about her self-taught path, her childhood on an island with her lighthouse keeper father, her travels and inspirations from all over the world. She is also known for her tireless efforts to promote local products and encourage artisanal production — principles that she rigorously applies at her restaurant Chez St-Pierre in Bic, near Rimouski. In our conversation, we got a glimpse of her vision of things, and learned a bit more about this rational, complex, and kind person.
What would you never eat?
“An endangered animal… or a plant.”
What do you listen to when you cook?
“It’s always happy, it’s a bit of a cocktail, either Bob Marley, the Beatles, Elvis… To be honest, I listen to a lot of stuff while I’m working. Otherwise, gypsy music or Madonna on the side.”
Where do you dream of traveling to after the confinement?
“I would like to go back to Asia, where exactly I don’t know. I’ve traveled a lot to Asia and I’d like to go back there with my kids. Before the lockdown, I went to Zimbabwe and it made me feel better about big trips. I miss Asia. The last time I went, I was 19, and I stayed for a year and a half. I didn’t have children at the time. I really like Asian food, so I would go to Asia, any country.”
What would you do if you were not a chef?
“Right now, I’m very involved. I would have loved to be in politics, I would have loved to be a minister, but I don’t think I could have done that at a young age. You need a lot of maturity, a lot of knowledge of the world before you can be a good politician. So I think I would be a DJ. I would’ve liked that.”
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
“I have been setting off illegal fireworks on a regular basis since I was 20 years old. I have developed a passion for fireworks. I’m a bit over the top. When I make a firework it costs me a lot of money. I light up fuses, I love it. If you ask me to organize a fireworks show, I go, I put embargoes on all the dépanneurs. It’s all timed, I’m as good as it gets. When I turned 40, I invested a lot and lit all my own fireworks.”
The last book you read?
“In general, I read three books at the same time. I usually don’t have time to read, but because of the lockdown, I was able to start again. I’m finishing ‘Illustrated Geopolitics: International Relations Since 1945’, I read the sequel to ‘The Scarlet Handmaiden’, and I finished ‘The Diver’. Books are like music for me, it depends on your mood: sometimes I want to listen to reggae, other times, the Beastie Boys.”
What is your favourite food?
“I like fat a lot, I’m not sweet at all. I’m more of a cheese person, my sin would be Vacherin Mont d’Or du Jura… with a good yellow wine! I eat it until my stomach hurts.”
Who are your favourite women, whether from history, a celebrity, or in gastronomy?
“If we’re talking about gastronomy, I have always had a lot of admiration for the women who came before gastronomy became a thing of interest. I have a boundless respect for women chefs, who have passed in the shadows, who make extraordinary dishes, who have carried on traditions, a culture, recipes, whether at the family or public level. I have travelled a lot and they are everywhere. Sometimes I’ve stayed in the same place for five, six, seven months just because I sat down at a table and ate some extraordinary food that floored me and I didn’t understand what was going on. I understood that I was in front of a great chef and that she was in the depths of Thailand, on a street in Vietnam, or in Peru in a national park. And so, I evolved in terms of both taste and spiritually in those places because there was something powerful there.”
“I would pay tribute to these people who are not well known. As George Brassens said, ‘All those women I never kissed.’ In life, we follow a path, but there are many, and we can’t take them all. All these women who are at the end of these paths not taken, who have made extraordinary cuisines since the world is people. These women are all the more inspiring, they continue to be extraordinary all while being ordinary.”
Thank you to Colombe St-Pierre for talking with us, and answering our questions so thoughtfully!
To learn more about some of Tastet’s other favourite personalities, check out our five questions with Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Gabriella Kinté Garbeau, Paul Toussaint, Camilo Lapointe-Nascimento, and Nicolas Ouellet.
Written by Inès Duguen
Photography by Andréanne Gauthier