On a rainy October Friday, I went back to Blume, a flower shop on the Promenade Fleury, hoping that the florist would agree to resume the conversation we had started the day before when I bought flowers for my wife on the day of our anniversary.
At the door, I came across a small note "back in five minutes." So I strolled around.
It was the day after the opening of the hockey season. It was raining. Curiously, in the autumnal gloom, the flag of the Montreal’s Canadien hockey club at the storefront of Le Tablier Rouge was standing out more strongly than on sunny days. In good weather, it looks a bit lost in the shadow inside of the porch. So I pulled out my camera to take a picture of circumstance.
As I pointed the lens towards the front window of the business, a gentleman in his white cook outfit was walking in. Seconds after he entered, a young man came out to ask me why I was taking a photo. I started to explain that I did not have any more specific purpose than to capture the light of the moment. But, since we had started a conversation, I asked him if he would be willing to have his picture taken and answer some questions. This is how chance encounters often happen.
This young man, featured in the photo with his red apron (tablier rouge in French), is Michael B. At his side is Renato P., Chef at La Molisana, a restaurant across the street. Michael has practically grown up in this restaurant opened by an uncle over thirty years ago and now headed by his father.
In his youth, he attended Our Lady of Pompei school on St-Michel Boulevard north of Sauvé. He played a lot of soccer in leagues in the north of the city. With a family background like his, it was natural that he studied at the Institut de Tourisme et Hôtellerie du Québec (ITHQ), where he graduated from the Advanced Culinary Arts program. Subsequently, he traveled to Europe. He studied at the Codignat Château in France with a Michelin two-starred chef, and in Puglia, Italy.
Le Tablier Rouge opened in the spring of 2014. There was previously a butcher’s shop at the same address. Today, the shop is still preparing meat. Its sausages are homemade. But as the store operates, it develops its personality quietly. Now, it offers other specialties made on the premises with fresh local ingredients: sauces, pesto, soups, etc.
Michael seems particularly comfortable behind the counter. One imagines him easily as a barkeeper involved in his customer’s conversations. I had entered a little before the noon rush, and had settled at the counter to take a tight espresso. I was quickly joined by other clients and chatted a little with them. As my appetite was whetted by the plate in front of my bar neighbor, I ended up enjoying a De Luxe burger with fries.
TV screens broadcasted the second game of the Blue Jays post-season. We saw the Jays’ players begin the first half inning as if they wished to finish their baseball season as fast as possible! They eventually lost that game, but have since regrouped, and are preparing, as I publish this article, to play the second game of the final series of the American League Baseball. It is the last step before the World Series.
Hockey game nights are popular at Le Tablier Rouge, with microbrewery beers and burgers at special prices. I wish Michael an exciting season hockey from our Canadiens (locally known as the Glorious). They’re off to a great start with five straight wins!
After all that, I didn’t see the florist that day.