MTLàTABLE: Stéphanie Audet, from LOV
A true global citizen, Stéphanie Audet has been a Montrealer since the age of 17, when she got her first apartment here. But it’s in Victoria and Tofino that she began her education in vegetarian cooking, an adventure that would take her from Hawaii (where she opened her own restaurant) to Texas, Brazil, Europe, Costa Rica and Mexico. After helping launch the vegan empire of Crudessence, she became Executive Chef at the vegetarian restaurant chain LOV, whose inaugural location is on McGill, in the Old Port.
What inspired the LOV team to open their inaugural restaurant in the Old Port?
The Old Port is an area that has very high traffic, where there are always people, no matter the weather or the time of year. I think owner Dominic Bujold found a really hot location with this space, and he was charmed by the building, because it’s integral, still full of history, and we’re bound to keep it that way in accordance with the heritage laws of the Old Port. Inside there are huge brick and Greystone walls that we stripped and left as is – I know that for designer Jacinthe Piotte those features were a real plus.
What are some things you discovered about the neighbourhood?
I didn’t realize there was such a nightlife in the area. The day never ends in the Old Port! Morning, noon and night, first for dinner and then for clubbing, the streets are full and it’s cool.
Where do you go in the neighbourhood to get a coffee?
To Crew Collective & Café, a third-wave café with very good brews. I took the habit of going there for breaks during the long work days before the restaurant opened. It’s located in an old bank, and it’s stunning – truly impressive.
Is there anywhere you like to go after a long day’s work?
I like going to the water’s edge, by the Lachine Canal. It’s my favourite spot for relaxing.
What particular flavour does LOV add to the neighbourhood?
We offer healthy and living foods. In the area, there are a few salads and toast options at Olive & Gourmando that are vegetarian, but otherwise it can be pretty hard! We add to the area food that’s good for you, veggie-packed and accessible.
What keeps people coming back to LOV?
Well apparently, it’s delicious! Secondly, it’s fun. On McGill the space is warm, noisy and dynamic. If your experience is good, the food tastes good! And to be able to eat healthfully is great. You don’t want the greasy, unhealthy, pricey option every day. LOV is truly affordable; you can easily eat here two or three times a week.
What are some Québec products you use on a regular basis?
We always have miso by Aliments Massawippi in-house. It’s the best miso in the world. We use it in our poutine sauce, among other recipes. They ferment their miso a really long time – as opposed to some commercial miso that are fermented for only three months, theirs are fermented for a minimum of three years. It’s another level of taste.
We also use kimchi by Tout cru! that’s organic and made exclusively from ingredients grown in Québec. They also make fermented carrots flavoured with ginger that we use in the banh mi.
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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