My first attempt at meeting Martin Picard was not successful.
I was on the other end of a rejection email saying, in so many words, "It’s not you, it’s me.” But I refused to accept this clichéd breakup line as my fate. Picard is a legend, a culinary madman known for highlighting local ingredients, incorporating Quebecois history into his whimsical yet bold dish presentations, and most notably, things like duck in a can. And I, a woman of little stature (literally -- I'm 5'2"), was on a mission: to land an interview with Montreal’s Wild Chef.
For months, I had been anxiously awaiting the day of my reservation at Au Pied de Cochon’s renowned cabane à sucre, a 45-minute drive from the heart of Montreal. Seating for the entire season fills up within one night, but somehow, I managed a seat. I marked the April date on my calendar with a doodle of a tiny pig. I was impatient for this day to arrive.
It finally came, and I was well-prepared for the singular experience of a multi-course feast from the mind of the Wild Chef and the subsequent foie gras-induced stupor that notoriously comes with it. From the three-tier foie gras cake with maple butter, apricot jelly, and pistachio bavaroise to the most delicious sea snail, mushroom, and cheese chowder to the maple-sugar pie finale, I was stuffed and ready to be rolled out of the sugar shack when a very tall man walked by my table. His hair untamed, his aura intimidating, and his eyes laser-focused on everything in the kitchen, Martin Picard was merely feet away from me. After finding my courage via a swig of my maple-gin drink, I tiptoed towards him to ask: how about an interview?