On September 17, l’ Association Restauration Québec (ARQ) held a media conference at the Palace Convention Center. Founded in 1938, consisting of 5,600 members throughout Quebec, the organization extends its services to government representatives, provides valuable information, and informs on ways to obtain discounts to restauranteurs.
From local farms to the consumers’ table, Laval produce isn’t just a journey through a farm; it’s a journey through flavor, where chefs provide a modern interpretation of local food production. Restaurants are considered the heart of Laval agriculture because bakeries, pastry kitchens, dairy products, and vegetables dishes rely on local producers for ingredients of the highest quality. These are the sentiments expressed to TLN by Stephane Lalande, Laval Agropole Commissioner, and the restaurant owners who were mingling and discovering new products for their next gourmet menu aimed to please.
Laval restaurateurs are now seducing clients by integrating flavors, aromas, and traditions of families into their menus by using produce from Laval farms and farmhouses, in generous quantities. Managers and chefs stated that certain actions of local food producers stand out as reasons why they continue to buy local foods; for example, response time to process an order is quick, thorough, and reliable. Food purchasers also indicated that local foods must have unique selling points and variety, besides cost, a trait enjoyed by many, if not all, local Laval producers.
Over 60 display booths exhibited a multitude of tantalizing eye-catching products from a variety of food and beverage industries intended for distribution to restaurants, schools, grocery stores, and other institutions.
Stephane Lalande, who was born into a family of agricultural entrepreneurs and has extensive experience in economic development, cited processors, distributors, retailers, and particularly farmers as major players in the food system.
“What we want is the ‘taste’ of Laval—gourmet meals exclusively made from Laval products,” he stated. And, “our objective is to attract businesses to Laval which will contribute to our city’s economic development. I am very proud of this extensive Laval network,” he told TLN, pointing to 85 food transport businesses, 16,000 employees in the food processing industry including restaurants, and 2,200 employees in the food industry. There are 125 farmers that cover 30 per cent of the government- protected agricultural land. “We’d like Laval produce to be destined for gourmet meals in all of our city’s restaurants,” he summed up.
Daniel Tanguay, business consultant recognized for his dynamic animation, offered ways for managers, restauranteurs, and employees to reflect on their practices in human resources, marketing, and customer service. His focus was on the mission of promoting the Quebec/Laval agricultural products’ distribution in all of Laval eateries, while maintaining great service, quality food, and regular updating of menus. The importance of customer service was prioritized, thus the magical success rate of restaurants in Laval.
Master of Ceremony, Francois Meunier, vice president for government and business public affairs, addressed restaurateurs, informing that Laval boasts 819 eateries in 2019 such as restaurants, bistros, cafés, schools, and more, which produce 11,300 jobs (bars and taverns excluded) and brought in an estimated $536 million in 2018.
A highlight of the conference was the announcement of the recipient of the ARQ Foundation award, Chapeau Restaurateurs, Maryse Gosselin, native of Laval, owner of the Bistro Bar Rossignol for her contribution to the community, and the sustainability of her establishment. Her business is also recognized as a place of cultural diffusion, while several artists appear there in musical performances. Gosselin helps with benefit evenings including Cystic Fibrosis Canada, Montreal Chapter, The Wind Rose (cancer), The Lanaudiẻre Association of People with Visual Disabilities, and the Montreal Heart Institute.
The award was presented by Claude Menard, President of the ARQ Foundation. No doubt, Laval has great taste!