That the inventor of poutine gets up!
Less and less shunned by the elite of gastronomy, poutine has become an iconic symbol of the culinary arts of Quebec and Canada around the world. For about twenty years, poutine has become globalized to the point where the Quebec dish is found on the menu of thousands of restaurants on all continents.
In China, Australia, the Middle East, people know about poutine and from time to time American shows also mention poutine. Last year, Maclean’s magazine awarded poutine the title of the “most Canadian” dish.
Like any well-known dish, such as hamburger or pizza, poutine has been a worldwide success despite its origins in nebulae and gossip. The success of poutine is as accidental as it is fascinating.
There are several versions behind the creation of poutine. However, the two assumptions recognized by the majority are those emanating from Drummondville and Warwick. The two stories complement one another and compare in importance.
In 1964, Jean-Paul Roy, saucier by training and owner of Roy Jucep in Drummondville, offers citizens his first modern poutine as we know it today. French fries, sauce and cheese curds. For Roy, gravy was the crux of poutine, so he went to Toronto himself to find the perfect container to better serve the combination of the three ingredients, since French fries were often used in paper containers. Then in 1998, the term “inventor of poutine” was filed with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. It was not a patent for invention since the recipes can not be patented in Canada, but the fact remains that the symbolism is powerful and that the documentation that supports this title is rigorous.
However, the title of the true father of the “old” poutine belongs in all likelihood to Fernand Lachance and his wife, Fernande Lachance Letter of Warwick. According to legend, Eddy Lainesse, the instigator of poutine, would have asked in 1957 the owner of the Ideal Café, Fernand Lachance, to mix fries and cheese in the same bag. He declared that the mixture will make “a whole poutine”. Thus in 1957 the term poutine was first mentioned and two ingredients, fries and cheese curds, were united forever. The ketchup sauce, concocted by Fernande Lachance, appeared around 1962 and was sold as an accompaniment. Unlike Roy, the Lachance have long believed that the real poutine only included french fries and cheese.
However, the creation of poutine alone did not allow the dish to reach the spectacular climax that we know today. Some entrepreneurs have taken over from Roy and Lachance to offer him a platform of choice. The godfather of modern poutine, Ashton Leblond, was the first to devote a significant part of his efforts to poutine. It has definitely institutionalized poutine as a fast food meal in Quebec City. Today, he owns and runs a fast-food chain in the Quebec City area, Chez Ashton, recognized as a leader in poutine.
Elsewhere in the province, in Canada and elsewhere, some front-line ambassadors have also played an important role in the history of poutine. Of course, some Quebeckers who migrated elsewhere also contributed, but a few others played key roles. In 1988, Jean-Louis Roy, the first owner of a Burger King restaurant, innovated by offering poutine in a large chain establishment and his work paid off. After that, McDonald’s, Harvey’s and other chains decided to offer poutine, across the country, and in parts of the United States. Jean-Louis Roy is therefore a great ambassador for poutine and we must recognize him.
In Ajax, Ontario, Ryan Smolkin, founder of Smoke’s Poutinerie, was another worthy ambassador. Founded in 2008, Smolkin is at the head of one of the first international restaurant chains dedicated entirely to poutine. The chain now has restaurants across Canada, California, New York and the Middle East. A breathtaking story that many Quebeckers do not know.
The story of poutine has innumerable ambiguities intertwined with anecdotes and rumors that mark the imagination. But one thing is certain, poutine is the result of a miracle and culinary ingenuity. Few dishes known around the world can boast of having been created in the region. Most of the time, big cities dictate culinary trends and mark the history of our food. In the case of poutine, a region in Center-du-Québec has introduced poutine to the entire planet. In short, let’s say thank you to Lachance, the “fathers of poutine”, to Jean-Paul Roy, the inventor of modern poutine, and to other entrepreneurs for their discovery.