Leftovers from the Sugar Shack

Roger Lemoyne


In a Maclean’s interview from 2007, Picard mentioned his desire to create a Québécois ham on par with France’s Bayonne—a project that could take 10 years to realize. When we asked Picard for a progress report, the chef got up from his seat and invited Maclean’s to have a peek in the Sugar Shack’s drying room, just off the staff quarters, where a meat haven of cured hams and cured sausages was hanging. “Those are our pigs who live in the forest for a year and then I slaughter them. This is our first try,” he explained. “I don’t want to do any commercial. I want to do it just for the fun and that’s all.”


“I love to take des restes. How do you say, des restes [leftovers]? When you take everything in the fridge and you cook it? I like to pick a lot of things and make something. I love that more than anything now. It’s crazy and I don’t know why, but I have fun. It’s very easy to do, you know. You don’t have to spend two hours to prep—it’s bang bang. You know, my girlfriend, she’s cooking very well, but sometimes she’s missing a little something so I love to take that from that and I’m doing something…well, I won’t say better, because that’s not polite, but something different. I love it.”


Vincent Dion Lavallée, savoury chef at the Sugar Shack:

“I live in the same apartment as Martin so he’s kind of my neighbour. So whenever anything is wrong, he knows where to find me. Living with my boss is fine with me. We have a good time. I’ve been hunting with Martin, and fishing. It’s a nice world. We try to do the best at what we do, and with Martin, when it’s good, it’s good and when it’s not good, he knows how to tell why. With Martin, he recognizes that we work hard and what we go through. With Martin, he’s always true.”

Gabrielle Rivard-Hiller, pastry chef at the Sugar Shack:

“The hardest dessert [in the book] I’d say, was the nougat. It was never-ending. Martin, he’s not picky but he’s really into details, would say that it was too soft or not hard enough until finally he was happy.”

Marc Beaudoin, Picard’s business partner and the book’s business manager:

“Martin is an artist so he doesn’t think about how much it’s going to cost [to make the book] and he wants to have the finished product the way he imagines it so the cost efficiency goes out the window, you know? So we have to sit down once in a while and control that part of it. And I think we’re both aware of it. It was a huge investment and you have to put a stop once in a while because you don’t want to have to sell your restaurant to make sure you can print your book.”

Marc Seguin, an artist and author, who contributed both art and text to the Sugar Shack book:

“Most people when they eat at PDC [Pied de cochon] have a sense that they are going to blow up. Martin is my best friend. PDC is like my cafeteria; I’ve been eating there for ten years so I know exactly what the food is about. But I have a farm, so I work a lot because otherwise I’d be dead because of the amount of alcohol and food that we have. It’s like the Sugar Shack: people ate that stuff because they would go outside and work and be exhausted and need to refuel. And that’s what the food is about. You needed it. Because late at night when you fell asleep all the calories were gone. You burned everything.”

Marc Seguin, on “The Girls’ Supper,” a chapter in the book dedicated to savoury dishes themed around an all-female dinner:

“Martin and I decided to invite four girls that are in the business, that are running their stuff strong and we decided that they were going to eat on that table cloth, which is kind of porno-related, as a vengeance: like trashing that image of a woman. We insisted that they eat with their fingers so they started painting with stuff.  PDC has always been a place where a woman feels free and they drink and they are their own masters, meaning they are completely liberated. I don’t know if it’s the restaurant that attracts them or it’s them that attracts this type of food. I don’t know which way it goes. But we hope it’s going to be read right. I don’t think there’s anything graphically of bad taste. We think it was done respectfully. And hey, it’s two guys that live off their desires and sensualities of eating food. We had so many people lined up who wanted to pose. There were a lot more women than ideas.”

Francine Chaloult, Picard’s publicist (who also represents Celine Dion):

“It’s hard for interviews not to go well with him. In Francais we say, ‘it’s like bonbon.’ It’s as easy as candy.”

Roger Lemoyne

Hungry for more? Read the Maclean’s print story, Maple attack at the Sugar Shack, here.

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