Patrice Bernier is a sensitive man who thinks of others, particularly those who do not have the resources to lead an active and healthy life.
Surrounded by his friends Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Ludivine Reding, Étienne Boulay, Jean-Thomas Jobin and Maxim Lapierre, to name a few, he created the Fondation Les amis de Patrice whose mission is to raise funds in order to helping young people.
In the kitchen, his universe comes to him from his childhood with Haitian and Creole flavors, but also from his job as a professional footballer in Europe, and more particularly in the Scandinavian countries, which have marked his life forever.
How important is food for you, Patrice?
When I was a professional player, I moved so much that my body adapted. However, when I arrived in clubs in Europe, the sports doctors and nutritionists had food programs for us that were adapted to each one. However, I already had a good career and I was performing well, but with their recommendations, my body reacted so well to my adapted diet that I was very, very impressed. I was at that time really at my best. The result was instantaneous. That’s why I get involved with young people to make them understand the importance of moving, breathing, eating well, being a healthy person in a healthy body. It’s not just a formula, it’s a reality that I really want to share with as many people as possible.
In the morning, tea or coffee?
My real initiation to coffee, I experienced it in Venice. I understood while visiting this magnificent city that I needed energy and that’s also why the Italians make such good coffees (laugh). Since that day, no more tasteless filter coffee for me, I need my dose of good coffee, otherwise, nothing.
Croissant or oatmeal, fruit…?
There, it was in France that I learned about pastries. Long live the croissant and the chocolatine, long live France, from time to time.
It’s a far cry from healthy food, but once in a while it’s nice, especially on weekends. Otherwise, oatmeal, fruit, I love fruit.
Sliced bread or baguette?
Baguette, bread with different cereals. The traditional sliced bread that we often find in homes, I don’t really like that anymore. A baguette cooked on the spot in bakeries or grocery stores is very pleasant when it is very crispy, it is also good for making a sandwich. Sourdough breads too.
Cheese or dessert ?
I love cheeses, I’m a little less sweet, I prefer to eat more balanced meals. I’m not one of those who save a little room for dessert.
Obviously, when I played in Norway, I discovered the origins of jarlsberg, I ate it as a child without knowing where it came from. Today, I like Quebec cheeses with similarities to Jarlsberg, such as Hercule de Charlevoix and mild cheddar. My wife is half Italian, so when she makes a good tiramisu or cannolis, I love it.
Meat or fish ?
A few years ago, I would have spontaneously said meat, really meat. Today, I am much more varied, the same for the varieties of meat. Red, white, but also lots of fish. Part of my football career made me discover Denmark and Norway, and there, of course, the fish is very present. So, yes, I now like fish as much as meat.
With the steak, salad or fries?
Fries and salad.
Caramel or chocolate?
Chocolate, a good layered chocolate cake, but also the brownies.
Cake or cookie?
I’m more of a cookie, chocolate chip cookies, I love them. A little ritual with the players of the teams I played with was to go to a Starbuck and have coffee and chocolate chip cookies every game trip. Nothing healthy, it was just a little comfort.
Beer or wine?
I am not a beer drinker. However, my Danish colleagues could have introduced me to Carlsberg or Tuborg, but I prefer wine. My discovery of wine came late in my life, it’s very pleasant, especially to make discoveries.
White or red?
I’m more of a rosé when the weather is nice, it smells of vacation, it’s relaxed, it’s drunk chilled, I like it a lot. Otherwise, depending on what I’m going to eat and even differently for each dish, white or red. There was a time when I preferred Californian and South African wines. Today, I rather like red wines from Italy, like the Montresor Amarone della Valpolicella for less than $35. Its good.
Bubbles or cocktail for the aperitif?
Rather bubbles, even if I am neither an amateur nor a connoisseur of sparkling wine or champagne.
Tell me about your favorite kitchen accessory, and why did you choose it?
You’ll find it weird, but I have a very large measuring cup for kitchen liquids to make recipes, it’s very big and allows recipes in quantity. It’s a gift, my aunt from Florida gave it to me, but it also does double duty. It’s very practical in fact, when you want to relax and pour yourself a large glass of juice or drink, you use it without constantly having to go back to serve yourself in the fridge, a practical-practical (laugh).
Otherwise, since I eat a lot, a rice cooker is very practical.
Do you have a little ritual when you prepare meals? Small glass of wine, background music, do you sing?
R&B – soul music, from John Legend for example, is very pleasant for the evening.
A good glass of wine is relaxing, but with the children at home, I admit that we receive less than before. We prefer to go to the restaurant with friends.
Do you have a favorite recipe that you make for your guests?
If I receive the beautiful family, I do not take care of anything, all the Italians are cooks (laugh). In addition, it must be said that it is a large family, it is not uncommon for us to be 30-40-50 people. It’s really intense, there are Italian charcuterie, vegetable and tomato salads, bocconcini, antipasti, pasta, but also Creole and Caribbean dishes, chicken or pork griot, stuck rice, red and black peas, fried bananas… It’s always a great feast.
Tell me about the culinary achievement you are proud of.
I sincerely believe that what we are most proud of, with my wife, is the fusion of our two culinary cultures. In each of our culinary creations, we find a bit of Italy and the West Indian-Caribbean, it’s special, but each dish is pleasing, a little spice there, another flavor here, we complement each other well, even in the kitchen. But we are also used to travelling. Recently, we made a Mexican lasagna, it was really very good.
Tell us that you have ever served a completely failed dish…
Smoked salmon… in the bad sense of the word, or in the real sense, but burnt, that’s for sure.
I’m not very good at cooking fish. Even the eggs, I sometimes burn them.
Best restaurant dining experience ever?
A restaurant in Tromso, Norway, the specialties are pretty much all seafood, including some amazing prawns, but this was my first time eating at a fusion food restaurant, early 2000s. Amazing, a culinary fusion of prawns, scallops with an emulsion of exotic fruits, an experience that marked me for life.
What did it smell like at home, in the kitchen, when you were little?
Glued rice, griot, spices such as curry, stews, black beans, conch, goat in sauce or roast, weighed bananas… Flavors that I still carry in my heart today.
Your favorite restaurants?
- Antonio Park. The sushi, again, it’s fusion, I love it. You should preferably live the experience at the bar/counter, in order to see the chefs in action, it’s beautiful to see.
- Kamuy by chef Paul Toussaint in the Quartier des Spectacles in Montreal, Caribbean cuisine, tasty and still a fusion of all these island cultures, with products from here and elsewhere. What I like a lot is that they are full of small dishes that you can taste, switch from one to another to appreciate all the flavors and nuances. It’s a very nice experience. Caribbean cuisine makes us travel in the eyes and in the palate. A big favorite.
- Fiorellino too, three addresses in Montreal, it’s a beautiful and simple Italian cuisine, but it’s done according to the rules of the art. Good pizza, good pasta.
- At Boris, the exceptional terrace, eating there is like being on vacation.
- Restaurant La Réserve, in Candiac, a really nice restaurant, unpretentious, but very good.
Favorite culinary products?
- BBQ sauce, I put it everywhere, chicken, fish, red meat, vegetables.
Photo Adobe Stock
Alimentari Sud grocery store in Saint-Lambert, a Haitian of origin who sells fine Italian products for the most part, is really very good.
Favorite dish at the restaurant?
If I know I’m going to have the right one, like in my childhood, it’s the griot with fried plantain. Also, penne all’arrabiata.
What can’t you do without in the kitchen?
Small peculiarity, I have to add salt to my salad.
A culinary crush?
Kansas City hot sauce.
A Jos Louis from Vachon is very good and I don’t feel too guilty.
Your favorite style of cooking?
I was very lucky to discover the world by traveling and being a professional sportsman and I must say that the spirit of discovery is a great happiness, I do not intend to stop discovering the cuisine of the world, such as delicious Thai food from Workshop restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark.