A coffee with… Marc Hervieux | From lyrical art to the art of choosing oneself

You can’t help bursting out laughing while reading Marc Hervieux’s cookbooks. Even less to cry. And it is not on the pages which order to cut onions that the tears flow the most.

Posted at 5:00 a.m.

Marie-Eve Fournier

Marie-Eve Fournier
The Press

The anecdotes featuring his father Dollard, inserted between the ingredients of the duck vol-au-vent and those of the Canadian stew, magnificently testify to a deep admiration for a man who gave his life to others. For a hesitant father who did not dare, who worked for 42 years in the same sugar factory in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district and who never went further than the family chalet in Lanaudière.

Quite the opposite of his son. His exceptional voice has taken him to the four corners of the world and his varied interests have led him to take on many professional roles. “I don’t judge him, because I know where he comes from”, summarizes the tenor while sipping a coffee.

The touching stories he wrote in Well living ! opus 1 and 2 also illustrate an era, a context. Both social and culinary. God knows that the plates of Quebec have changed since the 1970s.

After a youth eating alternately the “eight or nine same recipes”, mainly featuring beef and potatoes bought in the fall in astronomical quantities, the opera singer discovers with enthusiasm and openness the gastronomy of the cities. European and Asian countries where he works.

Far from being intimidated, he is rather insatiable.

I am very curious by nature. Of course I was going to try everything I could try! In Korea, I flipped out. I would have moved there for the food. It’s crazy to think that not so long ago, in Quebec, we couldn’t even be curious because we didn’t have the ingredients!

Marc Hervieux

In addition, food becomes a source of comfort for the artist who is so often far from his family.

“Opera singers are not well coated because of the voice. That’s not why! It’s because we’re always at restaurants all over the world and we’re all alone. It was my daily pleasure to go to the restaurant three times a day and discover things. »


Photo Hugo-Sébastien Aubert, THE PRESS

Today, it is he who serves up a dose of happiness to those who sit down in his little restaurant in Sainte-Adèle, in the Laurentians. His Café des Bons Vivants obviously offers some nostalgic recipes, like his books. Cretons “with lots of cloves” and homemade Map-O-Spread, made with maple syrup and cream, are on the menu.

The establishment is intended to be a tight-knit-family-project-after-two-years-of-pandemic-which-leaved-sequelae. Much more than a source of income. His daughters participated in the decoration and work there. The project is also quite naturally part of a life marked by food.

As soon as he enters primary school, little Marc goes home alone, at lunchtime, to cook himself. He concocts sandwiches, omelettes, heats boxes of Chef Boyardee. “I’m a freshman, I’m 7 and can you believe this, I’m making myself fries in a cauldron on the stove. Today, we cannot imagine that. The DPJ would disembark. But we are in 1975 and that’s how it is! It colored my whole life. »

Later, in a holiday camp, he will replace the cook and will manage to feed more than 100 young people per meal. During the Conservatoire, he worked in a restaurant on Laurier Avenue.

After having decided to put an end to the world tours to see his three daughters grow up and allow his lover Caroline to have professional projects, Marc Hervieux finds himself on television. For two summers, he co-hosts Heading for summer with Marie-Josée Taillefer, which allows him to meet 54 chefs, he says, and to learn from them.

Crazy lover of recipe books, it is with all this background that he now finds himself in the kitchen of his own restaurant where he practices latte art.

He cooks a lot at home, too, where he forms a “fire team” in the kitchen with his “wonderful Caro”, a “brilliant” and “tremendously sensitive” woman who has always impressed him. With her, he loves to receive large groups of people – think 50, 60, 75 guests – to whom he never offers to bring a pasta salad. “Pot luck doesn’t exist here. “To cook for the other is to love him…

Unsurprisingly, his ideal meal is a meal “with too much food in the center of the table and too much conversation”, summarizes the tenor who describes himself as excessive.

If classical music taught him extreme rigor, Marc Hervieux rather cooks his favorite recipes from memory, more or less. To immortalize them in a book, they had to be specified. A tedious step. He cooked, adjusted, tested, cooked again, discussed with his sister who remembered the family recipes of yesteryear. And redid all the dishes for the photo shoots.

But the most difficult thing was to put yourself in the shoes of an author, to write the slices of life that we discover between the recipes and the musical suggestions of his books.


PHOTO HUGO-SÉBASTIEN AUBERT, THE PRESS

It terrified me. I saw it big. I had never written, so I was constantly judging myself. I had to find the tone. I thought the editor would find it cheap.

Marc Hervieux

The result was not disappointing, quite the contrary. The book was even crowned the World’s Best First Cookbook at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.

In the serious world of opera, the heterogeneous career of Marc Hervieux is of course surprising. “It is sure that I am a unique bug…”

But he does not regret for a second having one day chosen to return home and devote himself to his family after having traveled the world. Even if his agenda was then filled with international commitments for four years. And even if he suffered some criticism by turning to popular music and animation. For the large foundations that supported him, he has become “a pariah”.

It hurt me, but I was fine with my decisions. I had a choice: please myself or please them. And I chose myself. The opinions of others, I have nothing to do.

Marc Hervieux

This ability to ignore the judgment of others is not given to everyone. How to get there ? Marc Hervieux summarizes his attitude to answer me this way: not trying something makes him even more unhappy than disapproving looks. And if that doesn’t work, he’s not afraid to do something else, to go back to his old shoes.

“As long as I haven’t tried to do something, I tell myself that I’m sure I can do it. It is thanks to this philosophy imbued with optimism and confidence that he renovated his restaurant himself, without any experience.

Dare, try, cook, sing, love, share, admire.

These are beautiful ways to fill a happy life.

Questionnaire without filter

  1. Coffee and me: Bad coffee is not worth drinking!
  2. What bothers me: When my children are in pain, when they have difficulties and worries about the future.
  3. What makes me angry: This tendency for people to say it’s never their fault. It stinks in my nose. We always blame it on someone else or on the government. That bothers me. Admit our faults, our weaknesses, our shortcomings.
  4. People living or dead that I would invite to my table: I am very faithful in friendship. They would be significant people in my life. The ideal is people I love.
  5. A defect that I corrected: I am in a very, very good mood or very, very angry. Like an on-off switch without dimmer !

Who is Marc Hervieux?

  • Marc Hervieux was born on June 19, 1969 in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district, where he grew up. He is the father of three daughters aged 15, 17 and 20.
  • After founding a graphic design company, he studied at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal and began a career as an opera singer.
  • In 2008, he left the big international stages to return home to his family. He then turned to TV and radio entertainment, as well as recording albums of various genres. He also continues to give a host of concerts in Quebec.
  • Marc Hervieux has written two cookbooks and opened his first restaurant in the spring of 2022.

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