By Waheeda Harris
An Italian heritage and the influences of the Quebecois food culture of Montreal lured Luigi Clementi into the kitchen from an early age. Clementi’s parents always had an abundance of vegetables and fruit growing in the garden, prosciutto and sausages curing in the wine cellar cantina as well as aging wine barrels and homemade wine vinegar.
Clementi is the owner/chef of modern Italian restaurant Coco Pazzo in Mont Tremblant, which features locally grown and organic ingredients from the towns of Weir, Stanstead, Labelle and Mont-Laurier. Specialty items are sourced from the southern medieval Italian towns of Campobasso and Lucito.
Embracing the principles of the Slow Food movement, Chef Clementi has formed partnerships—making sausage with artisanal butchers Les Fermes du Nordest, and offering small-yield, certified organic extra-virgin Antonio Pettinicchi olive oil from Italy’s Molise region. Coco Pazzo has been making house-made bread, pasta, desserts and Italian cuisine since 1995.
What speciality dishes or local items do you recommend to visitors of Tremblant and the Laurentians?
Local artisanal cheeses, maple syrup and Quebec-raised meats.
What do you love to eat that is simple to make?
Perfectly cooked pasta with a simple tomato sauce.
What seasonal items do you look forward to for the winter menu?
Risotto with beef cheeks, braised local meats such as lamb or osso bucco and Morgan Farm duck.
Is there a food style or trend that you would be happy to see disappear?
Fast food and processed food. Sadly, not likely to happen….
What culinary trend are you happy to see has become popular?
Locally and naturally sourced food.
What’s your ideal thing to do on a day off from the restaurant?
Relax with a glass of wine, cook and eat!
Name three Canadian restaurants you would recommend, and why.
Grapes Wine Bar at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel in Banff, Alberta: an incredible selection of Canadian wine and local food. We Easterners should be so lucky to have these wines readily available to us. Plus it’s in the most beautiful hotel in the world!
Joe Beef & Liverpool House in Montreal, Quebec: Chef/owners David McMillan and Frederic Morin do delicious and unpretentious better than anyone in Canada.
Toqué! Restaurant in Montreal, Quebec: Chef Normand Laprise was doing local before it was a food trend.