"You want to write about me? Are you going to be writing about my shape?" said Picard, laughing. He’s not as intimidating as the reputation that precedes him might lead one to believe, it turns out.
It is a well-known fact that a meal at Au Pied de Cochon, the cabane à sucre or food truck, will be a calorie-laden adventure. With a menu packed with meat, foie gras, and fat-driven dishes, this PDC trifecta is where diets go to die. I had to know how foie gras had come to take over Picard's life and become an ingredient synonymous with PDC.
“It took close to three years to perfect, and there is something great about the slowness it took,” proudly stated the chef born in Repentigny, QC. "I learned how to cook foie gras at Marc Meneau’s -- a three-star Michelin chef -- where I was an apprentice. There were mountains of foie gras there. I was inspired by the abundance and the variety."
His love for foie gras as a young apprentice grew to an obsession when he became the kind of chef who dared to ask, "What happens when I stuff this into that?" Since a section of the cabane a sucre’s menu is dedicated entirely to foie gras, I had a sneaking suspicion that Martin secretly wanted to kill (or at least induce comas in) his patrons with endless amounts of fatty food.
“I want to be a good host and cover guests with love and food. If that ends up killing them, well… ” said chef Picard with a smirk.
Though foie gras is objectively one of his most-used ingredients, he wouldn’t call it his favorite. “Depends on my mood, but maple syrup is a regular favorite. I guess it also depends on the season,” he said. “One day, I would like to serve foie gras whole in a steamed bun -- Asian-style.”
Incorporating Asian ingredients and preparations into his menus is a direction the curious chef is beginning to explore in his own fashion. In 2006, chef Picard released his cookbook, Au Pied de Cochon: The Album, which included a recipe, accompanied by graphic photo, of squirrel sushi. Rumor has it that he first began to experiment in the kitchen with the furry creatures because they were destroying his cabane and he wanted to exact his revenge. The Wild Chef confessed he’d like to create another Asian-inspired preparation for squirrel, limited only by the supply chain.