Hot dogs and shredded meat are on the menu at the Montreal First Peoples Festival, but with a twist: It’s elk sausage and pulled bison, piled onto a yummy corn bun with a generous squirt of blueberry sauce, buried in cabbage shards.
And you cook the elk yourself.
Throughout the weekend, attendees of the Montreal First Peoples Festival could be seen clustered around flaming logs stacked in two barrels on the city’s main plaza, roasting elk sausages and ears of corn on skewers. So popular was the kiosk that it sold out of food the first day, sending chef Antonin Mousseau-Rivard and his staff scrambling for more supplies.
“The street-food thing was four times bigger than we thought,” said Mousseau-Rivard, proprietor of Le Bistro Contemporain, the restaurant in the Musée d’Art Contemporain right off the Place des Festivals.
It was just some of the food available at the Montreal First Peoples Festival this year, the first time that local regulations allowed food to be sold outside on the plaza. Previous years had relegated the street-food portion of the annual event, which winds up its July 30–August 5 run this weekend, to a small booth doling out samples at the side of the action.
Mousseau-Rivard is the renowned chef-owner of Le Bistro Contemporain, and more exotic versions of aboriginal fare were on offer in the restaurant throughout the festival weekend.
“It’s a mix between modern and ancient, and old techniques,” he said. Many of the ingredients, especially the vegetables, are picked in the wild, he said, and the spices are from the northern, boreal region of the country.
There is one more day for the specialty dishes incorporating ingredients that Mousseau termed pre-Columbian and traditional from all over Turtle Island, all the way down to Mexico. Oaxacan chef Javier Olivo was on hand for the second year in a row with complementary creations of his own. He set up shop with a display of traditional indigenous ingredients next to the food kiosk on the plaza.