The itinerant, multi-award-winning Master Sommelier Pier-Alexis Soulière was already a veteran of a slew of restaurants — such as Est (Sydney), Dinner by Heston Blumenthal (London), The Modern (NYC) and Manresa (San Francisco) — when he decided to return to his hometown of Saint-Pierre-Baptiste (population, 500), Que., to make maple syrup. We rang him up to ask why.
Pier-Alexis Soulière: This is about my roots. I come from a region where every farmer makes syrup. It’s the first crop that brings in the money needed to buy seeds. I am a fifth-generation syrup maker and I learned how to be un sucrier from my grandfather. My project, la Sucrerie du curé, is about working exactly like he taught me.
C100B: What’s different about your syrup?
PAS: It is handmade in the most old-school way. No electricity, no running water, no plastic pipes. Only metal buckets, a crank to drill holes in the trees, and wood fire to boil the sap.
C100B: Is 2021 a good vintage?
PAS: It depends on where the syrup comes from. So many factors influence its taste. For the best syrup, you need cool nights (about –6°C) to protect the snow, and days that are just warm enough (about 6°C) to tell the trees that spring is here.
Photo Credit: Frédéric Laroche