Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

(Ryan Remiorz)
(Ryan Remiorz)

It tastes like duck

Haute seal cuisine gets a boost from Jean's nosh Add to ...

Seal tartar, anyone?

Michaëlle Jean's hearty appetite for seal has sparked new hunger for the edible side of the marine mammal.

Two Montreal restaurants have seen a rush of orders for seal paté, seal pepperoni and seal smoked meat since the Governor-General took her famous nibble on a seal heart.

Chef Benoît Lenglet says two-thirds of his orders are now for seal meals, a third more than before the Governor-General's snack.

More Related to this Story

"Now everybody knows we have seal," said Mr. Lenglet, whose restaurant, Au 5ième Péché, has had seal on the menu for two years.

"We won't be rich because of that. All we [hope]is that people discover that product, because it's one of the best meats I know."

The interest goes beyond the occasional dare, Mr. Lenglet said. Customers return for more of the meat, which is said to taste like duck.

"The people really enjoy the meats. It's fabulous, and it's from the culture of the Inuit people and Quebec people," he said.

Mr. Lenglet isn't the only cutting-edge chef benefiting from Ms. Jean's daring taste.

Les Îles en Ville opened six months ago to introduce Montrealers to the tastes of the isolated eastern archipelago of Îles-de-la-Madeleine, the centre of the Quebec seal hunt.

Co-owner Andrée Garcia said the restaurant received a flood of queries after the Governor-General's nosh in Nunavut.

"People have been calling about tasting seal heart, but we explain to them that we don't have seal heart," said Ms. Garcia, who offers filets, paté and sausages.

While the epicurious have fawned over the two chefs' offerings, animal-rights extremists from Europe have offered less favourable reviews.

Mr. Lenglet has received a flood of e-mail, mostly from his native France and Belgium, threatening him with death.

"We have pages of threats … they don't understand what we're doing, they just see the hunt," Mr. Lenglet said.

"We make foie gras in France - force-feeding geese is much more cruel than the seal hunt."

The Canadian spokeswoman for Humane Society International said she doubts Mr. Lenglet is the victim of an organized campaign against his menu.

"I'm very skeptical ... particularly when he's saying that these supposed threats are coming from Europe," Rebecca Aldworth said. "I have never seen a campaign of that nature."

Last month, the European Parliament voted to ban seal products, a move seen by aboriginals and East Coast sealers as an attack on their trade and way of life.

Ms. Jean nibbled on a piece of heart during a traditional Inuit ceremony in Nunavut, causing an international uproar.

Ms. Aldworth said she doesn't believe there will ever be a viable commercial seal meat market.

With reports from Josh Wingrove and The Canadian Press

 

In the know

Most popular videos »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most popular