Bon Appétit!

Culinary tourism focuses on benefits to consumers — to the traveler — and is concerned with prepared food and drink that comprises an experiential form of travel. The focus is on regional products, loving preparation, and artful presentation. Such specialized travel can include almost anything to do with food and food preparation: restaurants of all types and cuisines, wineries, breweries, classic diners, and road-side stands.

According to a recent survey conducted by the Travel Industry Association of America, culinary tourists are younger, more affluent and better educated than non-culinary travelers. And culinary travelers do more than just dine and drink. According to the Canadian Tourism Commission, they are just as interested in cultural and recreational travel experiences. “Man does not live by bread alone.”

And this integrated form of travel which combines the culinary arts with other forms of art has cultural and social roots. Baby boomers — one of the most important demographics in the travel and tourism industry — are exploring and re-discovering the world of travel, including their palate preferences. And even younger urbanites are exploring new and trendy tastes; travelers in general are seeking more diverse experiences that are expressions of a local culture. This of course includes the unique foods, products and tastes of the region. Food serves as the bridge between the terroir and its culture.

Borrowed from the French, the word terroir (initially applied to wine-growing areas) signifies the complete environment in which food is produced. Essential to understanding the nature of the terroir is an awareness of soil, topography, agricultural practices, and climate; all the elements that contribute to the goût du terroir (taste of the region) that the culinary traveler is looking for.

Québécois Cuisine

In North America, we are most fortunate to have the richness of French-Canadian culture and the tantalizing uniqueness of Québec’s regional cuisine virtually at our doorstep. No need to take a long and tiring flight across the ocean in order to experience the novelty of a different culture and its food culture traditions. Because of this, the Province of Québec is an ideal choice for culinary tourism and is easily accessible by plane, car, and train.

It’s no secret that French Canadians have a passion for good food and a love of fine dining, as well as casual grazing. Coupled with their appreciation for local farmer’s markets, the importance of high quality fresh ingredients, and respect and admiration for their chefs — it’s no wonder that Quebec is a magnet for food lovers and chefs! Young chefs who want to make their mark in the world of gourmet often come to train and work in Québec City.

Whether visiting Montréal or Québec City, a culinary journey of both cities is not only affordable, but will delight the traveler with memorable food experiences that tantalize the taste buds and speak to all five human senses. From a circus dinner show, to a Québécois cooking school, to a specialty seafood bistro, to the Old Québec charm and gastronomy, the choices are abundant for those who want to explore culture through food. Whether searching for cuisine du terroir, cuisine bourgeoise, haute cuisine, nouvelle cuisine, or multi-cultural and ethnic cuisines, Québec is a destination of choice.


The Hôtel Château Laurier Québec serves as a convenient home base while in Québec City, as it is within walking distance of most major sites and only a block away from Grande Allée, where many of the cities’ most popular and trendiest restaurants are located. Newly renovated, it exudes Old World charm with modern conveniences.

Start your culinary Québécois journey with a luncheon stop at L’Échaudé, a classic bistro noted for its constant invention. This is hearty bistro cooking in the Old Port section of town. I particularly enjoyed the selection of cheeses as an appetizer.

Offering the colors and flavors of Mediterranean cuisine, Largo Resto Club is a new restaurant in the Nouveau St. Roch district that specializes in seafood and savory. Sophisticated and voguish, the décor is casually comfortable in an up-scale way.

For a complete dinner experience and entertainment package rolled into one, don’t miss the École de cirque de Québec, located in the old Saint-Esprit church. With a dinner show menu of chicken liver mousse and confit, stuffed pork ballottine with wild mushroom sauce, soup of the day, and chef dessert, the meal is nothing short of extraordinary. Dinner is followed by a glimpse of the world of circus arts: live aerial trapeze performances, feats of flexibility, and unique comic interludes. As the only circus arts school in Québec City, this not-for-profit school promotes circus arts and fosters a new generation of performing artists.

It is not surprising therefore to learn that Québec, which spawned the enormously successful and very contemporary Cirque du Soleil, is a major global center for the circus arts.

For Old Québec charm and gastronomy, a “must do” experience is the Restaurant Aux Anciens Canadiens.

The restaurant is one of the oldest buildings in Québec (built between 1675 and 1676) and is also one of the finest examples of the Québécois mansardé architecture for which Québec is so famous.

Internationally known for its fine cuisine and warm hospitality, Aux Anciens Canadiens features authentic Québécois specialties and game. The wait staff is dressed in period costume and live music easily sets the mood of le bon vieux temps of the French régime in North America.

During my visit, I was entertained by virtuoso Patrice Painchaud and his violin while I dined on grandmother’s pea soup and les trois mignons: grilled tenderloin of stag, caribou, and buffalo served with a cognac and pink pepper sauce.

In the country, just outside of Quebec City, is the Restaurant Les Ancêtres. A 300-year-old family home that is brimming with history, the setting offers views of the Laurentians and Montmorency Falls. Les Ancêtres offers fine regional dishes as well as traditional habitant cuisine such as meatball stew with pig’s feet or pork roast with yellow potatoes.

Would you like to try your hand at stirring up some traditional recipes? Spend a morning at L’Académie Culinaire de Québec in Sainte-Foy (a suburb of Québec City) where you can make and bake tourtière (the traditional Québécois meat pie that is on every table at special festive times) and calorie-laden but oh-so-delicious tarte au sucre (maple sugar pie). The best part is when you eat the results of your labors.


VIA Rail, Canada's passenger rail services provides frequent and very comfortable connecting rail service between Quebec City and Montréal. For my journey to Montreal, I took the First Class VIA 1 train, with a full breakfast served on board. Arriving three hours later, I headed for Old Montreal to check-in to my hotel.

A 4-star rating, the Auberge Bonaparte in Vieux Montréal (the artfully restored port area of Old Montreal) is beautifully appointed with Louis-Philippe style furnishings — smooth surfaces and grand silhouettes but with subtler sophistication and understated elegance. I am warmly greeted by the affable and charismatic owner, Michael Banks, whereupon I am escorted to a beautiful room with an expansive view — of Montréal's well-known Notre-Dame Basilica.

That evening, my first dinner choice in Montreal was a seafood bistro offering every type of oyster known to mankind — or so it seemed after reading prominent poster menus that identify the global origins of different oysters. Maestro SVP is a new market cuisine concept that is a “must do” for any serious seafood lover. My Madagascar Scallops sautéed with green peppercorns and flambéed with brandy was an indescribable journey to culinary heaven.

Across the street from the Auberge Bonaparte, is Casa de Matéo, an authentic Mexican restaurant that has been the recipient of the Consumers Choice Award six times, earning the Gold in 2003. They were chosen by The Montréal Mirror newspaper as the best Mexican restaurant in Montréal, and live up to their award-winning reputation with their excellent service and food. I stopped here to grab some early appetizers before my evening concert at Notre-Dame Basilica of Montréal — the jewel in the crown of Old Montréal.

A masterpiece of Gothic Revival, the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montréal has an equally dramatic and colorful interior: a deep-blue ceiling with golden stars and a kaleidoscope of cool colors ranging from blue, azure, red, and purple to silver and gold.

After an evening concert at Notre-Dame Basilica, I walked around the corner for a post-theater dinner at my hotel in its Restaurant Bonaparte. Considered one of the top 100 restaurants in Canada, the Bonaparte sets the standard for classical French cooking. With impeccable service, exquisite food sensations, and artful plating, this is the place to celebrate that special occasion, whatever it may be.


The Québec City area website

Montréal tourism website

The provincial tourism website

VIA Rail Canada


Largo Resto Club
643, rue Saint-Joseph Est
Québec (Québec) G1K 3C1
Tel.: (418) 529-3111

73, rue Sault-au-Matelot, Vieux-Port
Québec (Québec) G1K 3Y9
Tel.: (418) 692-1299

Restaurant Aux Anciens Canadiens
34, rue Saint-Louis
Québec (Québec) G1R 4P3
Tel.: (418) 692-1627

École de Cirque de Québec
750, 2ième Avenue
Québec (Québec) G1L 3B7
Tel.: (418) 525-0101, ext. 236

Restaurant Les Ancêtres
391, chemin Royal
(Québec) G0A 4E0
Tel.: (418) 828-2718

Hôtel/Restaurant Bonaparte
447, rue Saint-François-Xavier
Montréal (Québec) H2Y 2Tl
Tel: (514) 844-1448

Maestro SVP
3615 Saint-Laurent Blvd.
Montréal (Québec)
Tel: (514) 842-6447

Casa de Matéo
440, rue Saint-Francois-Xavier
Montreal (Québec) H2Y 2T3


Hôtel Château Laurier Québec
1220, place George-V Ouest
Québec (Québec) G1R 5B8
Tel.: (418) 522-8108
Reservations: 1-800-463-4453

Hôtel Bonaparte
447, rue Saint-François-Xavier
Montréal (Québec) H2Y 2Tl
Tel: (514) 844-1448


L’Académie Culinaire de Québec
2740, boulevard Laurier
Sainte-Foy QC G1V 4P7
Tel: (418) 780-2211

The International Culinary Tourism Association

The mission of ICTA ( is to help food and beverage manufacturers and providers, as well as travel industry professionals, package and promote their culinary treasures as marketable and sellable attractions.

The ICTA accomplishes its mission by facilitating partnerships between complementary organizations, facilitating culinary tourism product development and marketing, promoting culinary tourism education, conducting and publishing culinary tourism research and promoting best practices in culinary tourism management.

Patrice Painchaud: Québec in Song

Québec expresses itself and its culture in many ways, especially through music. The music industry in Québec is one of the largest and most vibrant in the world. Patrice is an example of the musical traditions of Québec. (

Patrice is a multi-talented musician and performer who is also a part of the Painchaud Quartet. Composed of Patrice, his two brothers and a sister. Each of them plays a number of musical instruments with a wide repertoire of music that includes classical and folklore. They all entered the Music Conservatory between the ages of 3-5, and all have been soloists with the Québec Symphonic Orchestra.

The preceding audio clip of New France music is compliments of Patrice.

All photographs by Karin Leperi


Culinary Québec:
A Gastronomic Journey into Regional Cuisine
by Karin Leperi

First it was ecotourism; then agritourism, and now – culinary tourism.

According to The International Culinary Tourism Association (ICTA), “Culinary Tourism is the hottest travel market niche to emerge within the travel industry in years.… it’s akin to where ecotourism was 20 years ago.”

And when you think about it, cuisine is a constant travel experience; year-round, regardless of the season, weather, or time of day.