MTLàTABLE: Marie-Fleur St-Pierre, from Tapeo Bar à Tapas

Isa Tousignant

Born in Repentigny, Marie-Fleur St-Pierre moved to Montréal to study French cuisine at Institut de l’hôtellerie et du tourisme du Québec. She added a Portuguese specialization to her arsenal at Ferreira Café before exploring Spanish foods at Barraca Rhumerie Montréal. In the mid-2000s she became Montréal’s queen of tapas as Head Chef and partner of Tapeo Bar à Tapas, on Villeray Street, in Villeray neighbourhood. She liked the area so much, her and her partners opened the family restaurant Mesón two steps away in 2014. We sat down to chat about her original HQ, Tapeo Bar à Tapas.

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What does Villeray represent, to you?

To me, it’s become the place to be. There are lots of families, so much action – it’s a neighbourhood that’s become more and more beautiful over the 15 years since the opening of Tapeo.

Where do you go for last-minute errands?

I have two go-to places: Boutique Archive, a clothing shop where I get my dresses for things like book launches as well as gifts for Fathers’ Day, Christmas and all birthdays. And there’s Mlles Gâteaux – we developed a nice relationship with them. They make the éclair that’s become Méson’s signature dessert. That’s where I buy birthday cakes, Sunday dinner desserts – and every time my daughter comes to visit me at work she drops in for a cake pop.

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What flavour does Tapeo add to the neighbourhood?

Mainly a Spanish flavour! But also, throughout the years we’ve become really involved in the community and have given it our own flavour. Five years ago, we created the Tapeo Fund: each month we create a special tapa whose proceeds go toward community initiatives. That’s how we created Place Tapeo, on the corner of Lajeunesse and Villeray. It’s a lovely square with swings, where people can congregate to eat a snack or an ice cream and enjoy their evening.

What keeps people coming back to Tapeo?

I think it’s a mix of the service and the food. At the beginning the idea of tapas drew people in, because they wanted to discover something that was still new to Montréal. After 15 years now, I think people come for the consistency, the feel of the place and the conviviality.

What are some Québec products you use on a regular basis?

With the change of seasons, we always try to stick with what local producers are growing in terms of fruit and vegetables, and there’s some cheeses we source locally, too. The rest of our ingredients are typically Spanish. 

Do you have a favourite ingredient these days?

I travelled to Île d’Orléans and discovered Vinaigrerie du Capitaine, which makes a black currant vinegar mixed with a black currant purée – it’s delicious with all sorts of things, including raw fish and cooked meats.

Isa Tousignant

Isa Tousignant, blogger

Isa Tousignant is an art and lifestyle writer based out of Montréal’s eclectic Park Ex neighbourhood. She is Contributing Editor for Canadian Art magazine and freelances full-time for a wide variety of magazines and brands. She’s also a jewellery designer and passionate about animal costumes and their role in contemporary art.

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