Sat FoodLab-Culinary Event with Natasha Pickowicz and Paul Wetzel-January 26th, 2015

SAT -Labo Culinaire Foodlab
1201 Boul St. Laurent (3rd floor)
Montreal, Québec
H2X 2S6
Tel: 514-844-2033 ext 225
Chef Hats: 4
Cost=$ 100.03 (excluding tip) (a la carte menu-Shared)

Kitchen at Food Lab
Kitchen at Food Lab
Bar at Food Lab
Bar at Food Lab

Special Invites: Natasha Pickowicz and Paul Wetzel

Tasting Menu: $ 65.00 or a la carte
Starters: Crispy Raclette – made with Giolitto Toma cheese (piedmont), Reading from Springbrook Farm (Vermont) with olive fennel Foccacia bread and Mineola marmalade
Bitter Salad-: Cavolo Nero (black cabbage), Treviso, culatello, grapefruit Supremes and fried shallots with Societé original sunflower seed oil.
Duck Breast-: Chive Fazoletti, black trumpet mushrooms, heaven and earth turnips, pork and duck broth.
Ile Flottante- spirulina crème anglaise, poached meringue, blood orange, sponge toffee and pistachio.
Mignardises-:Hazelnut, apricot and anise biscotti, chocolate –dipped rosemary marshmallow

On the Third floor of the Societé des Arts Technologies Building (SAT) on St Laurent you will find The Food Lab or Lab Culinaire (in French). Since the opening of this moderate open concept space three years ago in late fall of 2011, it has been creating waves in Montreal’s culinary circles and among food professionals of the industry. Original in concept and design, it has become the place for people in the food and restauration industry and foodies alike, to come get away and enjoy some time in a milieu with their peers where they can share their ideas, learn new concepts or just enjoy a tète a tète, drinks and relax on their days off.

On January 26th, 2014, Food lab Co-chefs Michelle Marek and Seth Gabrielse (both formerly from Laloux) launched the first of a new series of creative culinary events being featured this year for the 2015 calendar at the Foodlab. For the first installment of the series, the invited guests were two New York chefs who are not unfamiliar to Montreal. Natasha Pickowicz, a former Montrealer who worked at the likes of Lawrence, Le Pick Up and also was a special food writer for the Gazette. Natasha is now a pastry chef at NYC Foragers City Table, along with her partner Sous-Chef Paul Wetzel who is in charge of the charcuterie and butchery section at Gramercy Tavern in the Flat Iron district of NYC.

Together this evening as invited guest to the event, they put together a tasting menu, showcasing simple and but precise local products from Vermont and Québec.The goal of these events is to go behind the scene and shedding new light on the chefs and producers that work mostly behind the scenes in and around Quebec, New York, Vermont and other area to be announced.

The menu this evening will be along the lines of what Marek and Gabrielse do weekly at the Food Lab, small simple plates, served individually or combined in a tasting menu that will blow you out of the water in originality and taste.If you are a big fan of New York food scene, this is a good way to sample some local talent without the hefty price tag of driving or flying to New York. The rest of the series of culinary events promises to be along the same lines, but also showcasing more local producers and brewers.

This evening, we went with the à la carte menu, just sampling what we really just wanted and sharing amongst us more or less. We started with two glasses of Pinot Noir-Cuvée Pierre Frick-Alsace, France at $ 10.50 a glass.

For starters we had a the entree of Crispy Raclette made with two semi soft cheeses, a Toma Cheese from Piedmont region in Italy, the other was a Reading cheese from Springbrook Farms in Vermont. Both of the same consistency the cheeses that had a slight kick and where beautifully paired with an olive Foccacia bread and Mineola (tangerine) marmelade. A great starter, with the sweetness of the citrus to motivate the appetite.

Crispy Raclette
Crispy Raclette

For my starter I had the Bitter salad with black cabbage (Cavolo Nero), Treviso, which is a is a red, spear-shaped variety of radicchio, grapefruit slices, fried shallots and Societé Original sunflower seed oil. If you are a fan of bitter salads, this is the way to go. A real palate cleanser and great anti oxidant properties. I have also discovered over the years the great products from Societé original. They are of high standards and used more and more with some of the cities great restaurants. They’re mission is also to promote Quebec products on a human level and strongly recommend them.

Bitter Salad
Bitter Salad

Frenchie had the Duck Breast, a soup made with a chive infused Fazoletti’s (Square shaped pasta noodles), black trumpet mushrooms, and turnips, in a consommé of pork and duck broth. The duck Breast came served on the side, four pieces of tender flavorful breasts that he cut up and added to broth.

Duck Breast & Soup
Duck Breast & Soup

For the piece de non -resistance I had to try the Ile Flottante for dessert – a virtual floating island of spirulina crème anglaise ( Spirulina is a natural algae ,cyan bacteria that is incredibly high in protein and nutrients, it contains and can prevent allergies and reinforce your immune system) Now that being said ..The dessert also contained poached meringue, blood orange, sponge toffee and pistachio. The dessert was just simply outta of this world and one of the most original desserts I have had this year.


Frenchie had for dessert  a plate of four mini desserts or mignardises a Hazelnut, apricot and anise biscotti, chocolate –dipped rosemary marshmallow, but he drooled over my ile flottante and agreed it was the  way to go.


This was all served up , table side by the Chef Nastasha Pickowicz with her explanation on her take of the dessert. After a few compliments and chit chat, I was awed by her modesty and her humbleness.
Very talented and I am glad I got a chance to talk to her. This was the saving grace of the evening as my only disappointment in the whole evening event, was my misunderstanding that it was more of a culinary event where you get to see the chefs at work at their craft. I would have liked to have gotten a table next to open kitchen, ring side to witness their mastery first hand. Instead we were relegated to the sixty seats that occupy the open space restaurant and the tasting menu sans explications!

One thing I did witness and recognize was the one or two famous Montreal chefs and sommeliers on their day off attending the event and enjoying the event among their colleagues. This made me realize that The Foodlab is in fact the place to hob knob with the industry professionals and to boot you get to try something original and creative. Kudos!

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