Famed Quebec chef Ricardo helping to promote whitefish

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo
Stacy Linington, left, president of the NWT Fisherman’s Federation, shares a laugh with famed Quebec chef Ricardo Larrivée as a plane taking off from the airport interrupts filming of an interview at Fisherman’s Wharf on Sept. 19.

A chef – famous in Quebec and well-known in food circles across Canada and around the world – made a stop in Hay River on Sept. 19 to help promote the whitefish of Great Slave Lake.

Ricardo Larrivée, who is known professionally by just his first name, talked whitefish with Stacy Linington, the president of the NWT Fisherman’s Federation, while standing on Fisherman’s Wharf.

The interview was recorded to become part of a series of 52 three-minute videos that Ricardo Media is creating on Canadian food, especially exports, for the federal Department of Heritage.

Ricardo said he proposed the idea to the minister as a way to promote Canadian food exports, especially of products that might not be well known as Canadian.

“And for the 150th anniversary of Canada, I said I’d love to do portraits of fantastic either families or Canadian businesses in the food or agriculture environments,” he said. “Because the heart and soul of a nation is to me a lot around the table of your family. This is where you will share your values and your traditions wherever you live in the country.”

Ricardo is executive chef and chairman of the board of Ricardo Media.

Over the past year, he and a film crew have travelled the country recording for the project, which is now almost at an end with just four or five videos left to do.

Linington welcomed the opportunity for whitefish from Great Slave Lake to be included in the project.

“Anytime we can do anything to promote the industry is great for us,” he said. “Our fishery up here isn’t known and it’s great if we can get it known. We’re trying to promote this industry and get more people involved. The more people that know about it, the better it is for us.”

Linington said his message to Ricardo is that Great Slave Lake whitefish is unique and superior to any other whitefish in Canada.

During their interview, Ricardo and Linington talked about how Great Slave Lake whitefish is unknown to so many Canadians, but also about how the fish is exported to markets in Europe and elsewhere.

“The colder the water, it seems the better the taste,” noted Linington.

Ricardo said coming to the NWT and the Yukon to film segments was the highlight of the project.

“Because for us from Montreal, wow, Yukon and the Northwest Territories,” he said. “It’s as exotic as saying, ‘I’m going to Thailand.'”

Ricardo noted the completed video clips on food are already airing on French-language television in Canada, and have been sold to an international French-language television network. Forty of the video clips are on his website, and he expects them to be seen on CBC television.

In addition, he said they will be shown at Canadian embassies, and will particularly be used to promote Canadian food exports in China.

“I’m always proud to advertise and promote a Canadian food business,” said Ricardo.

The chef has a television show – shown in 160 countries around the world – and he can also be seen on the Food Network. In addition, his company produces a magazine and cookware, he writes for The Toronto Star and he has published a book.