I have been so eager to share this for some time now. I mentioned last year that I was busy working on a book. It has finished printing in preparation for its launch in March so I can now share the details with you (hooray!).
On initially visiting Montréal I found it really stole my heart. The beautiful old terrace houses with steep steps, the way the city wraps around Parc du Mont-Royal, the historical buildings of the Old Port, and the incredible array of food on offer from many nationalities. It really is a great place to be for a food lover. I was so inspired by the city that I put together an online magazine called A little relish. A couple months were spent photographing the places I loved and trying to capture what was so unique about this city. On launching it for all to see a Miss Claire Bouchard viewed the magazine and sent me an email.
You fell in love with Montréal, I just fell in love with your work! I am speechless.
Everything is there: the pictures, the design, the feeling… Wow.
Claire told me a little about herself and her own dream of producing something. After a couple emails back and forth we agreed to meet over coffee. On a cold Thursday morning in December 2011 we met at La Mie Matinale on rue Saint-Catherine Est.
‘We should do a book together’ Claire said.
Ideas were tossed around about how we could collaborate and what we could produce. Claire could use her skills as editor-in-chief of a well known Québec website called CASA, combining that with her passion for writing, love of Montréal and its selection of food. And I could use my skills in design, photography and my fresh set of eyes of Montréal. With this we believed that something unique could be created. It all sounded very exciting to me but being the cautious person I am I said I’d think about it. Many thoughts ran through my head. “I’ve never produced a book and don’t know where to start!” “I’m used to working solo rather than collaborating!” “I get bored easily so can I really work on a year long project?” I stood on the corner of rue Saint-Catherine and boulevard Saint-Laurent and called Reid (of course). Poor Reid is my sounding board for the many ideas and thoughts that run through my often confused mind. I told him of my meeting and said I was excited but unsure. ‘Do it’ he said. It was the simple confirmation that I needed to confirm my gut feeling. When I returned home I emailed Claire right away.
‘I think we do it!’ I said.
With the agreement made we set out to put a proposal together and met with Éditions de l’Homme, a large Québec publisher. To our delight they fell in love with it and agreed to publish the book. As you can imagine we were over the moon and could barely believe it. We were doing a book! Straight away we delved into producing it. Schedules were drawn up, timelines created and it was full speed from there. With Claire still working full time and having two young (very cute) boys to look after we spent most weekends of last year putting it together. I won’t deny it and I’m sure Claire won’t either, that at times it was hard. When you take on a book project it’s hard to imagine how much work and dedication is involved. You really need to reach inside and use every bit of commitment, passion and determination that you have to get to the end. There were tears of frustration and we had to mentally support each other but we eventually made it and were able to hand our finished files over in November.
So enough about our story and onto the book! It’s called Dévorer Montréal (Devour Montréal in English). And it’s exactly that, eating your way through Montréal. We wanted to produce a book that featured the unique places to eat, enjoy coffee or buy products in Montréal. Not so much the celebrity and well known restaurants, but the smaller places that have been a neighbourhood favourite for years. The places that offer an authentic and quality product to its customers. We wanted to share their stories about how they came to open their business and the journey they have undertaken up to today. And rather than being a regular restaurant guide we wanted it to make people feel something through its pages and for it to be a book to hold onto. A book to share with friends visiting the city or as a reference of places to revisit or experience. The 288 page book is full of my photographs combined with Claire’s stories. And every place in the book (52 to be exact) we ate at, some more than once. So you can imagine my slightly curvaceous figure after a year! It has been grains, salads and lean meats ever since.
The book has printed and will be on sale on the 20th March this year. But I have to warn you, for now it’s only in French. Of course Quebec being a French speaking province it is understandable. But we remain hopeful that there will one day be an English version to follow. It will be available in bookstores throughout French speaking Canada as well as online.
Right before I left Montréal Claire and I met a couple very talented girls named Geneviève Philippon and Isabelle Darveau who agreed to help us put together a film to promote the video. They completely understood our vision and I thank them both so much for what they did. The film captures the essence of our past year: running around to the 52 places; keeping up with Claire’s young boys Ludovic and Renaud; eating, photographing, talking with business owners and working alone to complete our parts. For me it’s rather emotional to watch as it really does sum up my past year living in Montréal. I hope you enjoy it. Thank you also to Monogrenade for allowing us to use their song Ce soir.
So that is it! We have put together a small website to promote the book. Those who can read French will be able to read a little more about the book and about Claire and myself. And the facebook and twitter pages launched today as well. We will be updating it with images of our journey and events as the launch nears.
I hope it will be a book that those living in Montréal love. One that inspires them to rediscover their city. And those who haven’t yet visited the city to one day pack their bags and explore it for themselves.
Have a great weekend everyone x