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Montreal Gazette 'Food' Section New Low

Currently in town we have the Highlights Festival going on there are a quite a number of visiting chefs in town. Some are very high profile, others are up and coming, others are from different parts of the world and can provide insight into different cuisines. Certainly there are no shortages of interesting people and stories to cover.

So with all this going on what does the local paper, The Gazette do? In the Saturday 'food' section. It features a THREE page spread about some local woman! She has a TVshow seen locally, and has a book again locally.

It's certainly good that the paper is focusing on local ‘talent’. But as this woman isn’t going anywhere. In fact she has been around for a while. Did they really need to give her the extraordinary amount of three full pages in their Saturday section? Why not talk about some of the talent that is visiting the city? Build up the festival. I don’t get it.

It is because the ‘critic’/food expert Lesley Chesterman, with questionable insight and originality, has to be the star? She can’t ever seem to write about people who don’t know who she is. And I certainly don’t get why the section editor would go ahead with such a large piece at such a time.

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  1. I have also been surprised by the lack of info in the English media about the Highlights Festival, and I wonder if it is the same in the French Media. But fortunately, it is easy to find the program around town.

    In general, i have been disappointed with the Arts and Living Section of the Gazette (not to mention the rest of the paper). I like the reviews of both Lesley Chesterman and Sarah Musgrove (even if I don't always agree), but I rarely find a lot to read in the Gazette. It is content-challenged. Guess that is why I don't suscribe!

    1. Both Lesley Chesterman & Julian Armstrong are covering the Montreal High Lights Festival, as part ot their diary on the Montreal Gazette website(although it's very hard to find their diary on the Montreal Gazette website). They did the same thing last year(Sarah Musgrave was also involved last year). My problem with Lesley here, is that she's not anonymous(how could she get into the participating Montreal restaurants to cover it, without being recognized by people in the restaurants).

      1 Reply
      1. re: BLM

        In today's Gazette there is an article about how ratings for The Oscars are at an all time low. Perhaps after 80 years people are somewhat bored. There is perhaps a parallel with the Highlights Festival. The first few years it was really "cool" that chefs from around the world came to cook in Montreal. Over time many of us realized that the day after they left by and large their local "hosts" returned to their usual routines. Maybe we've become bored by the event. I know that I haven't gone in several years after finding that many of the meals were underwhelming given the prices and the hype.

      2. Just an educated guess, Lesley Chesterman is going to devote at least 3 full pages to Susur Lee in this coming Saturday paper.

        1. Well, The Gazette has been running a "highlights diary" online during the week...

          Wonder why nothing in the weekend edition though? Maybe something to do with the fact that the Festival didn't really advertise in the Gazette? I'm thinking that this top-dollar advertising snub could account for some of the lacklustre coverage.

          1. The Globe and Mail ran a feature on it in yesterday's paper. Okay, they're featuring Toronto chefs this year, so it's not that surprising. But I find that the only mention in the Gazette of the Highlights festival tends to be a few weeks after the event is over, talking about all the wonderful meals that took place. I really don't understand why that can't talk about this event in advance. But then, don't get me started on what I think of The Gazette in general...

            1. I am new to Montreal (okay, and I don't really read the Gazette very regularly) but I do read the chowhound Quebec board and somehow I didn't know about the Highlights Festival-- or I didn't know that there is a DINING aspect to it. Late to the party, I know, but are there any events with openings that I should try to get to?

              1. What I found strange about the puff pieces on Josée di Stasio is that they appeared one week AFTER her 6-week series on her France trip ended. I enjoy watching the trips, but the weekly cooking with some unknown actor totally bores me. Not to mention, she bores me too: she only uses two words to describe any dish she is tasting: Magnifique! or Parfait! And if she used those already, then she just yells out the name of the special ingredient in the dish (e.g. le CUMIN! les ANCHOIS!)

                WRT to the Highlights Festival coverage, maybe it's a question of demographics? I mean, the weekly grocery section is all about the best place to find the cheapest possible fruits and veggies, never mind they might be grown in sewage sludge and covered in pesticides, they're a good buy! That's actually a strange focus since a few weeks ago the wine guy admitted he gets a lot of inquiries about organic wines. The demand is there for thoughful and critical information that doesn't come from the Publisac and addresses concerns about provenance and quality.

                1. I'm really shocked to read that anyone would object to a story on Josee diStasio, or as you refer to her, "some local woman." She certainly is selling a lot of books for somebody who "isn't going anywhere."
                  As for the High Lights fest, we are posting an on-line diary of the festival dinners on the Gazette web site. AND we devoted at least three articles to the fest before it even started. Another will follow when the fest over.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Lesley

                    No need to be 'shocked'. I was simply questioning the timing, prominence, and the length of the feature. As I stated in the OP focusing on the success of local talent is always important.

                    Clarification of what I meant by "isn't going anywhere." is that she is in fact a local and isn't leaving town. She will be still be around, and just as current, after the festival giving you plenty of time to focus on her. As to referring to her as 'some local woman' I simply could not remember her name.

                    To be fair I missed the three articles you mentioned. I just happen to feel that the festival is an interesting culinary event and that your coverage could be stronger and a little more current. A post festival recap (as with the hard to find online diary) is all very nice. But all it does is to inform me as to what I have missed as opposed to telling me what there is to look forward to.

                    1. re: Withnail42

                      The diary is not so hard to find. It's on the front page of the Arts & Life section.


                      If you still can't spot it: http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette...

                      Frankly, even if I'm not a fan of the Gazoo, its fine dining critic or "that local woman", I'm even less a fan of the bad faith expressed in the original post.

                      1. re: SnackHappy

                        That's only if you knew beforehand it was in the Arts & Life section. I looked for it on the site, for a good 15 minutes & couldn't find it(I thought it would be on their blogs section & etc.).

                      2. re: Withnail42

                        Hello Withnail42 so you really pissed of (Lesley )Chesterman about a year ago why aren't there any more activities here, I find this blog started out great ...keep on going, by the way Di Stasio is just a houswife just seeing her cutting onions or vegtables shows it, par contre great is Phillip Mollé's emission -travelling around, he is a real professional chef visiting places all over the planet -has a dry humour just like Burt Wolf had, The Gazette journalists/colummists are a strange bunch and in food usually follow La Presse's lead, Lesley Chesterman is all Joe Beef Joe Beef Mc Millan-mcMillan ....so there goes some credibiltity , also about the Schwartz,s ..I dont know if Susan and the great Monsanto genetically modified food defender PHD-Mc Gill Dr. Joe Schwartz related are or not ??but defending Monsanto and writing a book about healthy nutrition the, defending chemical multis and biodiversity pirates all the way contradicts all the real doctor and inventor of the Budwig Cream Dr Kousmine said and told half a century ago which is even more true today