Montreal

Oh my curd: Authentic Quebecois poutine finds a home in Manchester

Graham and Vincent Bernier are hoping their Montreal-inspired poutine will take the UK by storm.

Graham and Vincent Bernier are hoping their poutine will take off in Britain

The Blue Caribou Canteen is serving up authentic Quebec poutine in Manchester, England. The owners recently were featured on the BBC/Netflix show Million Pound Menu. (Blue Caribou Canteen/Instagram)

For some people, the taste of home can come in the form of a treasured family recipe, or a familiar flavour that provides a rush of nostalgia.

For Graham and Vincent Bernier, that taste is of fries, gravy and Quebec cheese curds.

The married couple, made up of Quebecer Vincent and Brit Graham, had at one time enjoyed poutine to their hearts' content while living in Canada.

"It was kind of a revelation," said Graham of sampling poutine for the first time, more than a decade ago.

"You wouldn't think something so simple would be so tasty."

But when the couple relocated to the United Kingdom, they found that something was sorely lacking.

"Every time we visited [Canada] I had as much poutine as possible," said Graham.

"And returning to the U.K., we couldn't find it anywhere, at least not an authentic version. So we set out on a journey to try and make it ourselves."

That's why the two opened Blue Caribou Canteen in Manchester, England.

At first, it wasn't easy to find a locally produced cheese that would live up to their expectations.

"Finding the correct, authentic cheese was the stumbling block," said Graham.

"Eventually we found a local dairy to help us make the closest, most authentic version you can find in the U.K."

He told CBC Montreal's Let's Go that it took two years to get the cheese right, but it was worth it.

The Blue Caribou officially opened in 2016.

The Berniers recently got a chance to show off their Quebecois cuisine to a wider audience by appearing on the Television show Million Pound Menu — its where restaurateurs compete to impress a set of industry investors with a pop-up shop.

"It was very exciting to showcase the best Quebec has to offer," said Vincent.

Some of their menu offerings include: maple butter on fries that was dusted with bacon salt, poutine with pastrami and pickles, and a vegetarian poutine made with mushroom gravy. 

Graham and Vincent Bernier are the owners of Blue Caribou Canteen, opened in 2016. (Blue Caribou Canteen/Facebook)
The two impressed the panel of judges on the BBC/Netflix show with their food, but didn't end up striking an investment deal.

Still, Vincent is proud of the homestyle food they're serving up.

"We can compete with the best poutine in Montreal," he said.

About the Author

Marilla Steuter-Martin has been a journalist with CBC Montreal since 2015.

With files from CBC Montreal's Let's Go

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