Rediscovering our Gastronomic Roots with Panache

Rediscovering our Gastronomic Roots with Panache

Article and photographs courtesy of Sarah Williams.

Sarah Williams was invited along to sample the menu cooked up by Panache’s new head chef, Julien Dumas.

And here’s how it went:

Leave it to a French chef to reintroduce Quebecers to the wide array of wonderful produce that we can find right in our own backyards.  That was the case this week when Panache (the 4-diamond restaurant housed in the Auberge St-Antoine) held a special luncheon launch to debut its new head chef, Julien Dumas.   Dumas met and fell in love with a Quebecoise, and was searching for the right opportunity so he could call Quebec City home; that’s when Panache came along. 

There are three very important prerequisites for the ingredients that Dumas uses:  the food must be fresh, in-season and locally sourced.  In this respect, Panache and Dumas are a good fit.  Panache, a restaurant renowned for its menu featuring many regional ingredients, also has its own organic garden on Ile d’Orleans.  When I spoke to Dumas about it his eyes widened when he described what sort of fruits and vegetables that his kitchen receives straight from the farm, “It’s really big, there are all sorts of vegetables, and herbs and fruit like blueberries and strawberries”.   However, Dumas tends to go beyond the garden wall so-to-speak, to provide Panache’s restaurant-goers with a unique gastronomic experience he has shopped for ingredients from regions around the province.

The Signature menu that was served at Dumas’ introductory event clearly represented the types of food that are currently in peak season in Quebec: morel mushrooms and asparagus are prime examples.  Dumas will adapt the ingredients in each dish as the season progresses, for example the white morels served over the Arctic Char, alongside an emulsion of wild garlic, will be replaced in a week or so by red morels, when they are in season.  He also mentioned that when crab season hits its stride, he will incorporate them into a dish.   For this reason, I am hesitant to recommend any dish in particular, as it will likely have been adapted when you go.  What I can do however, is offer my praise regarding the quality of Dumas’ culinary skills. 

What will a visit to Panache do?  It will help you rediscover your taste buds.  Each element of Dumas’ dishes presented the pure and fresh flavour of the food, so faithfully to the original ingredient that you swear that he has produced the way that it should truly taste.   Each of his Signature creations has 4 main elements, three are listed on the menu, and one is intended as a surprise.  

With the White and Green Asparagus entrée, topped with edible spruce needles and a whipped goat’s milk foam, Dumas covertly added a third, wild species of asparagus which looked like and mimicked the flavour of rhubarb.  

Served with flare by the chef himself, the princess scallops, cooked on stones and blanketed with herbs such as mint, basil and chervil were accompanied with an unexpected dollop of tart lemon sauce, bursting with flavour.

During his presentation of Julien Dumas, the General-Director of the Auberge-St-Antoine, Jean-Louis Souman, admitted that the young French chef has actually introduced him to local produce that he never knew existed.  After having tasted some of Dumas’ creations myself, I have no trouble believing this statement.  Dumas has a true passion for exploring all the edible possibilities that nature has to offer.  It’s this pioneering spirit that will allow him to fit in quite well in his adopted home of Quebec.


Price range:

Dinner – 35 – 50$ (per person)


Wonderful ambiance, with log beam ceilings and stone walls, it’s very romantic.


8 rue Saint-Antoine (inside the Auberge St-Antoine)
Québec City, Québec, Canada
Tel. 1-888-692-2211

Website :


About the author:

SARAH WILLIAMS is a mother of three young children, who says she writes just to stay sane.

Sarah had her first experience living in Quebec while earning her bachelor’s degree in Communications at Concordia University (MTL) in the late nineties.

Hailing from Cobourg, Ontario, Sarah moved to Quebec City in January of the year 2000. For her, this city is the perfect balance of the small town feel of her hometown in Ontario and the vibrant francophone culture of Montreal.

Professionally, Sarah has worked a fair bit in the media as a copywriter and researcher; for Global Television, and for a T.V. cooking show (what’s cooking).
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