Campus Spotlight, Student Life

‘On the Table Magazine’ paints a vivid portrait of Montreal’s culinary scene

There is no doubt that Montreal has one of the most diverse and exciting culinary scenes in the world. For Evelyne Eng, U4 Arts, the vibrant city served as inspiration for starting her own culinary magazine last summer.

On the Table Magazine is an entirely student-run culinary magazine that aims to highlight the food scene in Montreal for its student readership by sharing recipes, informative blog posts, and articles on restaurants and culinary-related organizations in the city. In an interview with The McGill Tribune, Eng, the publication’s founder and editor-in-chief, described how the magazine came into existence.

“I got into food […] toward the end of high school, and then it sort of grew when I came to Montreal because there are so many restaurants and so many different cuisines to choose from,” Eng explained. “I got really pulled into that scene and then I [thought] it would be so cool to have a food journal.”

With the multitude of diverse restaurants in the city, the writers at On the Table Magazine will never run out of unique culinary stories. Some of Eng’s favourite restaurants in the city include Boulangerie Le Toledo, an artisanal French bakery, Restaurant Manitoba, a restaurant serving New Canadian cuisine inspired by Indigenous ingredients, and Keung Kee, a Chinese seafood restaurant.

“[The culinary scene is] super diverse,” Eng said. “I met somebody […] who’s lived all around the world and she was saying that Montreal is the most exciting place in North America for food right now because of not just the turnover of restaurants, […] but the ideas behind them [….] What’s cool about Montreal is that there’s a mixture of all the new young kids coming in and the institutions that remain.”

Eng has had a passion for food long before she came to Montreal. Since her parents did not tend to cook very much, Eng, motivated to start eating healthier, decided to learn how to cook for herself in high school.

“I just started by looking up recipes [and] watching YouTube videos,” Eng said. “I’ve always had an interest in journalism, so I then got really into reading food magazines.”

Eng’s interest in food magazines later resulted in the birth of On the Table Magazine. In addition to highlighting local restaurants, the magazine also publishes recipes and helpful how-to articles. More serious pieces are mixed and balanced out with more lighthearted ones; they recently posted an article about the diet of various squirrels across the city.

The magazine currently has a team of four editors and several contributors. While other publications on campus have set style guides and rules about how articles should be written, On the Table Magazine strives to give writers more freedom to explore their ideas.

“What I really want to do overall is allow the writers and photographers […] freedom to write what they want about food from their background,” Eng explained. “We have a really diverse range of writers coming from different departments.” 

The magazine’s unique focus on food sets it apart from other publications at McGill. The recipes on the blog and restaurant profiles help newer students escape the McGill bubble and also render the task of cooking for oneself less daunting. Eng suggested that students interested in cooking for themselves should start with basic recipes that they can adapt to suit their budget and taste.

Though they offer students advice about cooking, the On the Table team also aims to highlight McGill specific events.

“[It’s] sort of a beautiful assemblage of quirky little things and more serious [pieces],” Eng said.

In addition to publishing articles on their website, On the Table Magazine will be publishing a biannual print issue at the end of the semester. Find them on Facebook here and follow them on Instagram.

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