Monday 19 March 2012

Au Pied de Cochon - Sugar Shack

Au Pied De Cochon
Sugar Shack
Maple Syrup

By Martin Picard

In her opinion:

What happens when you combine food (no, really good food) and art(both stetches and photography) with the great culinary mind of Martin Picard...well you get a cookbook/coffee table book that is beyond awesome. And to's printed in Quebec and not China - thanks Nathalie Atkinson for that little tidbit.

I had been eyeing this cookbook since I received the email from Chapters/Indigo for the pre-sale of the book a couple of months ago.  I was contemplating buying it then.  But I'm so glad I waited.  My fabulous husband found out that Martin Picard was doing a book signing at Le Creuset at Sherway Gardens on March 18, 2012. Needless to say, guess where we went?  

When we got there they had the most amazing deal on to mark the book signing.  Buy their 4 litre square covered casserole dish and receive a free cookbook.  This excited me!  This deal is like hitting the jackpot.  Two of my favourite things...Le Creuset and cookbooks. Wow. I obviously took the deal. 

Martin was late for the book signing because his flight got cancelled and he ended up driving to Toronto from Montreal but you would never know.  This man is one of the most genuine people I have ever met. I can honestly understand why chefs like Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin and Anthony Bourdain of No Reservations' fame admire and love this guy.  He's a really nice guy.  With a genuine smile and an infectious laugh.  I liked him. No, I really liked him.

He was nice to me, my husband and even my six year old.  Great guy and better chef! But, enough about Chef Picard.

The book is truly amazing. The recipes focus on Maple Syrup. After all, that is what the Au Pied de Cochon - Sugar Shack book is about. The Table of Contents has every imaginable recipe that you can put maple into.  From "Soft Maple Sugar Candy" to "Squirrel Sushi" to "Foie Gras Tatin".  

Along with the recipes are some rather "sexy" sketches and photographs. This is definitely not your average cookbook. That is why I also described it as a coffee table book because it is beautiful enough and large enough to have on your coffee table!

If you have an extra $70.00 lying around...pick this one up. It's a visual stunner by a really nice guy who happens to be a great chef!

In his opinion:

Martin Picard is no stranger to the limelight. His widely successful show "The Wild Chef" on the Food Network and the reputation and accolades received for both his restaurants Au Pied du Cochon and Sugar Sack make him a household name. Still he remains a no frills, anything goes, hell of a nice guy type Chef and it's obvious that fame has not gone to his head.

Many may not know that tis is not Picard's first cookbook but when his "Au Pied du Cochon, The Album" from 2006 hit the shelves and became a must have for many chefs worldwide, the realization of his star power was finally here. This new cookbook harbours both the names of of his restaurants, Au Pied du Cochon in Montreal and Sugar Shack in St Benoit de Mirable in Quebec.

Already lauded by critics as part art, part cookbook and all controversy, it's really a cookbook that Martin wants you to cook from. It pays homage to the great Canadian staple Maple Syrup, and serves to inform everyone of the versatility of this great product and also to remind us that we don't use it enough in our cooking.

The book is 382 pages filled with short stories, amazing recipes and the occasional half naked girl for good measure. The real controversy comes from recipes for dishes like "Confederation Beaver", "Woodcocks a la shack" and "Squirrel Sushi". Only probably Martin can get away with making one of our national symbols into a cookbook recipe but, like he always says, good meat is good meat, no matter what animal it comes from. The pictures that accompanied these dishes are as controversial as the names and I'm sure there will be an animal rights activist somewhere, waiting to jump on the wagon and bash this book.

The book is amazing with stunning visuals of food, illustrations, step by step instructions and some women in the mix. It is a true representation of what Martin Picard really is, controversial, passionate about food, defender of all things Maple and Foie Grais, but most of all, a poster boy for ingredients from Quebec.

He is one of my favourite Chefs in the World and his Au Pied du Cochon remains my favourite restaurant in Montreal (check our review of it here). It was a pleasure to be able to meet him and trade a couple of jokes and one could not find a more down to earth chef then Monsieur Picard. Graisses de porc, foie grais et sucre pour toujours, salut!

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