The Constant Gardener: J-C Poirier

Chef and owner, St. Lawrence, Vancouver

It’s hard to imagine JC Poirier cooking anything other than Paris-Brest, vol-au-vent or mille feuille—the French-inspired fare coming out of the Michelin-starred kitchen at St. Lawrence in Vancouver—but it’s taken him nearly 15 years to get here.

In 2004, Poirier left Montreal—and a position at Normand Laprise’s Toqué!—to work with Rob Feenie and Marc-André Choquette at the legendary Lumière in Vancouver. He then went on to cook French-inspired nose-to-tail dishes at the upscale Chow (his first solo venture), and when that closed down, he turned his attention to authentic Neapolitan pizza at the casual Pizzeria Farina. This ultimately laid the foundation for his ultra-successful Railtown trattoria, Ask for Luigi, which won a chart-topping four categories at Vancouver magazine’s 2015 Restaurant Awards, including Best New Restaurant and Restaurant of the Year.

Now Poirier’s going back to his roots at St. Lawrence, serving an elevated-but-playful take on the type of food he enjoyed eating as a kid growing up in Saint-Jérôme, Quebec: crispy pork rinds in vintage maple syrup tins, steak tartare with pomme gaufrette, venison tourtière cheekily topped with a miniature Habs flag, rice pudding with salted caramel sauce. In a cozy room that feels like an old-school brasserie, it’s comfort food served by French-speaking staff and paired with French wine . . . or a Labatt 50 tallboy.

It’s all decadent and rich and indulgent—the exact opposite of what we’ve come to expect in a smoothie-loving city—but it’s the humble, honest food Poirier was always meant to cook. (He even nabbed the same two honours, Best New Restaurant and Restaurant of the Year, at the 2018 VanMag Awards—and recently won Restaurant of the Year at Vanmag‘s 2022 Restaurant Awards.)

Originally published June 2018; content updated October 2022

(Photo credit: Carlo Ricci)

Chef’s Day Off

We asked St. Lawrence chef and owner J-C Poirier which fine Vancouver establishments he frequents when he’s out of the kitchen.

BreakfastI usually go to the Birds and the Beets for breakfast before heading to work. I love their bread and the breakfast sandwich—it’s amazing.

Lunch Harvest Community Foods is my idea of a perfect lunch. The ramen is tasty and healthy. And try a side of kale gomae.

Dinner I’m torn between Kissa Tanto (order: tajarin pasta with butter and mushrooms) and Savio Volpe (order: fire-grilled chicken with lemon and rosemary). “I could probably eat chicken every day.”

2018 Foodies of the Year ▸▸▸