I had wanted to eat at one of Chuck Hughes’ restaurants ever since watching his Food Network show, Chuck’s Day Off. So when I learned I was heading to Montreal for Osheaga, I thought that maybe if I was lucky, I could get a table at his restaurant.
To my expected disappointment, I found that his restaurant was totally booked all weekend. I shrugged it off and figured it just wasn’t meant to be. But sometimes the universe works in strange ways.
It all started in an attempt to find the washroom. MGMT was playing to a packed crowd, but it had been a busy day and I was losing my stamina. In my absent-minded wandering, I somehow managed to find my way into a restricted area behind the stage. Any uncertainty I had was overridden by the motivation to relieve my bladder.
After many inquiries and misguided directions from several groups of security guards, I found a building with a long line leading out from the washroom. The only problem was that I was separated from this line by a fence. Confused about this barrier and starting to feel like I was in some place I didn’t belong, I intended on asking a security guard about getting to the washroom, but ended up talking about the band Queen, after seeing my shirt.
More people started showing up on the same side of the fence as me and I asked what they were here for. They had two wristbands – one red and one gold. This meant that they had an All-Access Pass and could go anywhere they pleased. I started to feel inferior as I abashedly showed them my media pass. They were sympathetic and revealed that I could get into the VIP area, which ended up being useful for the next two days.
As we talked, a golf cart came to pick up the people with All-Access passes, and they accidentally included me in the head count. As everybody loaded into the cart, I awkwardly stood around not knowing what to do next. To my relief, one of the girls I had talked to took pity on me and asked if I wanted to come along. I jumped at the opportunity and scrambled onto the cart, which was so full at this point that I had to stand in the back, hang onto the roof with one hand and cling onto a passenger for dear life with the other.
The precarious arrangement of people made us quite the spectacle, and as a final stroke of pathetic fallacy, fireworks were playing behind us as we drove along the waterfront to Artists’ World, where the artists get to eat, hang out and drink. While we were driving in, a security guard stopped us to check our wristbands. I got a bit anxious as he hassled one girl for not having a red wristband, but somehow I managed to slip through unnoticed.
Once we got to Artist’s World, it was apparent that most things were already closed up for the night. Then I recalled that Chuck did the catering for the artists at Osheaga. Never in my wildest dreams, thought, did I think that he would be there.
But through some strange luck, I saw Chuck Hughes sitting one table away, having a meeting with his crew. I felt like a 12-year-old girl and just about died right then and there. He was one of the friendliest and nicest people I have ever met. He told me they were all out of food for the night, but if I came back, he would sneak me some food.
For the next two days, I tried to no avail to repeat the miraculous events from the night before. I started to accept the thought that I would never get to try his food.
But on the Monday night, I managed to get a reservation at Le Bremner, one of Chuck’s restaurants in Old Montreal. It was probably one of the best meals I’ve ever had. And, as serendipity would have it, I got to meet him again. And as simple an ending as it was, I don’t think I’ll forget the experience for a long time.
By Janine Wong