5 Questions With Mélissa Simard Of Round Table Tours In Montreal, Quebec
Mélissa Simard of Round Table Tours talks about the local food scene in Montreal, Quebec.
Mélissa Simard owns 'Round Table Tours or Tours de la Table, a company that brings people out on in-depth tasting expeditions in Montreal or food tours, if you will. She has a degree in Canadian Studies from McGill, and a diploma in Professional Cooking. She worked in the food industry, has a culinary blog called 4 Corners of the Table, gave cooking workshops and now connects people to Montreal, each other and business and networking opportunities through food and personal story. She also won best female entrepreneurial project of Montreal in 2013 in the Quebec Entrepreneurship contest. We had a few questions for her...
1. What dishes is Montreal known for?
Bagels, poutine (orginal, foie gras, Italian, etc), and smoked meat. We are also known for using Quebec's unbelievable cheeses, making the best baguettes in the world and emphasizing local terroir and foraged goods!
2. What can people expect on a food tour?
They can expect to eat over a four hour period, getting to know Montreal through its most unique food phenomenon and the real stories of its chefs and entrepreneurs.
We explore neighbourhoods, cultures and food genres through tasting and story. We hit up restaurants, food production sites, urban farms, food trucks, culinary academies and specialized food retailers! We do it on foot, bike or through customized transportation.
Our expeditions are highly divergent as we explore topics from the Montreal Jewish Food Scene, to the Iberian Montreal Scene, to the Healthy and Sustainable Food Scene to the Southwest to the street food scene. We don't do it all in one expedition, but explore specific topics on each one!
3. Tell us about the neighborhoods that your food tours explore.
We visit Outremont down to the Southwest! Our Jewish Food tour explores the former and current Jewish quarters from Outremont (well-to-do), to Mile End (the most creative neighbourhood in North America- with a mix of Hassidic Jews and hipsters, not unlike Williamsburg) to the Plateau -- Montreal's poster child neighbourhood.
On the tour of the Southwest we eat along the Lachine Canal visiting the former Canadian Industrial cradle and its new gentrified hot spots spear-headed by young culinary talents: (this neighbourhood is rich in history: visually and gastronomically.)
We cycle on the Lachine Canal, through Old Montreal and Downtown on our food truck cycle tour, seeing peaceful urban parkland, the old city and bustling downtown eating all the way! Mostly, you will be brought into an intimacy and insider perspective with the dishes and food personalities that is impossible to engineer on your own!
4. Is there a best time of year for a foodie to visit Montreal?
Montreal is great all year.
- Spring: sugar shack
- Summer: food trucks, Omnivore, Farmer's Markets, lots of in-season produce and terraces
- Fall: Tourism Montreal's Mtl à Table, the harvest
- Winter: Montréal en Lumière
5. Are there any Montreal chefs that we should be keeping our eyes on?
Marc Landry from Landry et Filles from the food trucks, Alonso Ortiz (who has won many prizes) from Pintxo, Jean-Michel Leblond at Trippes and Caviar, who specialize in the preparation of variety or organ meats, and, of course watch Sophie Ouellette and Peter Saunders from EVOO.
Shout-out to Crudessence, who is bringing 100% organic live foods to another level, pumping-out cookbooks and to Gita Seaton of Winneburger/Nouveau Palais who is doing almost the opposite popularizing American Classics with quality ingredients. There is a real spectrum of older and younger talent and the super healthy and chic to the down-home no nonsense meat-a-tarian.
Photos (except sushi) by Mélanie Dusseault Photographe