Eating & Drinking

Ottawa chef Marc Lepine reveals his culinary secrets in Atelier: The Cookbook

Where there’s smoke, there’s… liquid nitrogen — and dehydrators and balloons and sous-vide machines, and who knows what else.

Ottawa culinary innovator Marc Lepine has just released Atelier: The Cookbook, a gorgeous coffee-table book filled with 48 of his favourite techniques and signature dishes.

Renowned for his clever 12-course menus, the Atelier chef shot to national fame in 2012 when he won gold at the Canadian Culinary Championships, beating out top chefs from across the country for the crown. Since then, he has won it a second time and continues to wow with his pioneering techniques and picture-perfect dishes. Ready to make your first carrot hoop?

City Bites went behind the scenes to ask three key collaborators for their most memorable moment in the making of Atelier: The Cookbook.

Marc Lupine. Photo by Christian Lalonde, Photolux Studio
Marc Lepine. Photo by Christian Lalonde, Photolux Studio

Chef Marc Lepine — “I don’t think I have one specific moment that I could say was the most memorable, however I really enjoyed recreating some older dishes from years past. There were ingredients and techniques that were used for one specific plate — like the Chopin Waltz — and seeing them come to life again made me smile.”

Just one of Marc Lepine's signature dishes, featured in his cookbook. Photo by Christian Lalonde, Photolux Studio
Just one of Marc Lepine’s signature dishes, featured in his cookbook. Photo by Christian Lalonde, Photolux Studio

Photographer Christian Lalonde (Photolux Studio) — “We had a fully planned look for all the food shots, with various coloured backgrounds for each chapter giving the images a very graphic look. But after the first morning of shooting, the reaction was: ‘I don’t like it.’  We were all in a bit of a panic. We had a brainstorming session, which is how we came up with the clean, simple plated look that you see in the book. The images have a more timeless and artful look that was a perfect fit for the type of food Marc is presenting.”

Just one of Marc Lepine's signature dishes, featured in his cookbook. Photo by Christian Lalonde, Photolux Studio
Just one of Marc Lepine’s signature dishes, featured in his cookbook. Photo by Christian Lalonde, Photolux Studio

Writer Anne DesBrisay — “Most memorable moment for me? Tough to chose one. It was probably something Marc said to me as we were chatting about the process of creating a dish. It made me laugh because it was so Marc and so Atelier. ‘Keep it simple?’ he said. ‘What does that even mean? It’s a thing you hear often in cooking and it’s never made sense to me. Why would I ever want to keep it simple?’ Indeed. One needs only look at an Atelier plate to know there’s no KISS principle at work.”

Marc Lupine. Photo by Christian Lalonde, Photolux Studio
Marc Lepine. Photo by Christian Lalonde, Photolux Studio

Find it: As of Sept. 25, Atelier: The Cookbook is available through major and independent bookstores. Books will also be available at Atelier. $50.

Taste It: During the rollout, Lepine will host “A Feast of Words, Images and Innovative Cuisine” as part of the Visa Infinite Dining Series. Oct. 18, 6:30 p.m. $185. The evening, which takes place at Atelier, includes Lepine’s signature dishes, pairings by sommelier Steve Robinson, and a signed copy of the new cookbook.

Hear It: Keep checking the Library and Archives Canada website. Plans are in the works for an author “in conversation” event featuring Lepine on Oct. 20.

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