Welcome to Food Guy Montreal’s 10 Questions with Daniel Notkin, master oyster aficionado and connoisseur of the sea. Self-proclaimed humble shucker, alcohol tester, and president of the Old Port Fishing Co., Daniel’s presence can be felt in the heart of Old Montreal at the restaurant L’Orignal where he also controls, what else but the seafood. He is also responsible for organizing the Montreal Oysterfest, which was easily one of the best food gatherings of the summer (see some of my pictures below). Thanks Daniel for being of part of this month’s 10 Questions. Here are his answers:
1. What are your 3 all time favorite restaurants in the world? (No particular order)
Whew. Tough one.
1. Joe beef. Rough and tumble and honest. Just some of the best dinners I’ve ever had. Really.
2. Destino’s – sub shop in Gloucester Mass. Not sure if it’s the sea air or the fishermen in for lunch after a rough morning, or my summer childhood … but it’s just my favorite place for a sun. Just a bit of magic in there. Oh, and their motto was “it just don’t get any better” – how can you argue that?
2. What would be your last meal?
Jeez, lighten up! Okay, if you must…
A few perfect oysters. Perfectly roasted chicken with mashed potatoes, whole plumtomatoes, and a bottle of Francois Cotat. Maybe a Pinot noir. Then ice cream.
But that’s today’s thought….
3. If you were hosting a dinner party, which one guest would you invite? Dead or alive.
Maybe Ghandi. When my nature begins to rear its head – and my nature can be very cut to the point. I actually do think how he would intellectually address the problem or individual.
4. What is your signature dish?
Well. Oysters. But that’s not a dish really. Boiled lobster I’m really pretty good at, then seared tuna with a red and yellow pepper sherry vinegar relish.
5. What is your favorite junk food?
Ice cream. Done and done.
6. What single food do you or would you go out of your way to have?
A new oyster I’ve never had – like when I went to Tomales bay two weeks ago just to have Hog Island oysters right out of the bay. Awesome.
Or that sub shop I mentioned. Heaven.
7. If you could eliminate one food from the world, what would it be and why?
Truffle oil. It’s such a damn cheat it offends me. Most chefs don’t even know there is ZERO truffle in it. It’s all chemicals. Just disgusting in my opinion. Yet I learned some of the top restaurants in the world use it. Blah.
8. Single best childhood food memory.
Making black forest cakes for school bake sales. Always.
9. Describe the kitchen you grew up in.
Three kinds – my family kitchen, small in an apartment, but with mom always making amazing chocolate cakes with chocolate frosting and dad always experimenting; the summer house, lobster dinners, warm breezes, dinners on the back porch, and the grandmothers – one spotless, well crafted, the other classically Jewish.
10. What is your go-to comfort food?
Chocolate peanut m&ms. Almost a perfect food…
Bonus: 11. What is your favorite Montreal Institution?
Food wise? I never really went out for dinners as a kid and went away for most of the teenage and 20’s…but I would say Schwartz’s. That’s just– that’s Montreal. It varies a bit now, but every aspect is a piece of history.