The top chef who came to taste the lobster nouveau in N.B.

In theory, the catch being promoted was lobster. But perhaps the bigger catch was the world-class chef who was touting its quality.

In 1994, chef Paul Bocuse came to Canada to help promote lobster product to French market back home

Can N.B. lobster impress a famous French chef?

28 years ago
Duration 2:17
In 1994, Chef Paul Bocuse was in N.B. to check out the local lobster.

In theory, the catch being promoted was lobster. But perhaps the bigger catch was the world-class chef who was touting its quality.

In the spring of 1994, French chef Paul Bocuse was in New Brunswick to check out the lobster nouveau, or the first lobsters caught in the spring.

The 68-year-old chef, who was a legend in his country, joined his family restaurant and helped it earn three Michelin stars by the time he was 40. He'd also been awarded the French Legion of Honour, as well as other prestigious awards during his long career as a chef.

And why had such a renowned chef found his way to Atlantic Canada? To help out the local lobster purveyors.

French Chef Paul Bocuse is seen in Baie-Saine-Anne, N.B., in the spring of 1994. (The National/CBC Archives)

"The Canadian lobster industry may need the chef's influence," the CBC's Kas Roussy told Prime Time News viewers on May 16, 1994.

"It's tried to carve a niche in the specialty markets in France, focusing on medium- to high-end restaurants."

But it had faced challenges due to what Roussy described as the industry's "bad reputation" in Europe.

Hence the need to reel in a big chef to help put that lobster on plates overseas.

French Chef Paul Bocuse is seen holding up a lobster for cameras on a boat in Baie-Sainte-Anne, N.B., in 1994. (The National/CBC Archives)

"The best lobster is the freshest one possible," Bocuse said through a translator, during his visit to New Brunswick.

To that end, the lobster industry in Canada was highlighting the fact it would be sending outbound live lobster by air, so it got to its destination "faster and fresher," as Roussy put it.

Bernard Theriault, the provincial fisheries minister, said the main challenge was ensuring that chefs overseas understood that "we can provide you with quality lobster."

Officials hoped the promotional efforts involving French chefs would help boost sales of Canadian lobster in France. (The National/CBC Archives)

It was hoped that the French journalists following Bocuse and a group of other chefs taking part in the journey would help spread the word about Canadian lobster back home.

According to Roussy, the promotional effort was expected to boost sales of France-bound lobster by at least $500,000 that year.

The New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal reported the full promotional effort was expected to cost around $150,000, when all was said and done.

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