Bell Centre executive chef keeps the Habs and their fans well fed

On a game night, Yves Lowe and his staff of 100 cooks will prepare “3,000 covers,” chef-speak for 3,000 dishes.

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If you want to know what the Montreal Canadiens players love to eat, just ask Yves Lowe.

He is the executive chef at the Bell Centre and the job involves managing some 100 cooks who, on a game night, will prepare “3,000 covers,” chef-speak for 3,000 dishes. Lowe is in charge of all the food consumed at the Bell Centre, with the exception of the concession stands. So if you don’t like the arena hot dogs, don’t complain to him.

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What he is responsible for are the arena’s restaurants, notably the private club La mise au jeu, Italian restaurant Canti, the 9-4-10 steakhouse, wine bar-charcuterie platter place Bazarette above the Taverne 1909, and the upscale eatery Mythik.

So on a game day, Lowe has to oversee all of the restaurants, take care of the food for the loges and make sure the players are properly fed. The day we were chatting at Mythik was indeed a game day, and so he put three chefs on the morning skate. There was breakfast before the morning skate. After the skate there was a light dinner, “with things like chicken breast, no salt, no pepper,” Lowe said.

“Pasta with tomato sauce. And it’s according to what the nutritionists tell them to eat. Then they go for a nap in the afternoon, coming back at 4, where we’re going to serve them a light lunch. Oatmeal, chicken soup, fruits.

Yves Lowe, the Bell Centre's executive chef, braises beef cheeks in le Mythik cuisine on Feb. 21, 2024.
Yves Lowe, the Bell Centre’s executive chef, braises beef cheeks in the Mythik eatery on Feb. 21, 2024. Photo by Pierre Obendrauf /Montreal Gazette

“Then you have the game and then at night the post-game, and that’s a party for them. Post-game they’re going to have filet mignon with ribs. They love to have what we call ‘fun food.’ We only put one item of those every game. Could be mini-burgers, could be tacos. But their favourite is chicken fingers. They keep asking for chicken fingers as many times as possible during the season. You know they’re kids. They’re (in their 20s). They’re not cooking at home, so they’ll (grab) takeouts to bring home.”

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They eat the post-game meal in a lounge next to the dressing room and they’re supposed to eat quickly to replenish their bodies after 60 minutes of (hopefully) intense hockey. And there are special requests.

“(Samuel) Montembeault likes hot oatmeal, that’s the only thing he eats before a game,” Lowe said.

When Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes took over management of the team a couple of years ago, they wanted to make the meal preparation more personalized, so they eliminated catering at the practice facility in Brossard and had Lowe install a kitchen and send three cooks over there.

“They’re cooking in front of them, and that created a new family-style ambiance,” Lowe said. “Now the players are asking questions. They’re curious.”

Yves Lowe, the Bell Centre's executive chef, is seen with some of his cuisine in the Mythik restaurant on Feb. 21, 2024.
Yves Lowe, the Bell Centre’s executive chef, is seen with some of his cuisine in the Mythik restaurant on Feb. 21, 2024. Photo by Pierre Obendrauf /Montreal Gazette

Lowe is hosting a special event at the Montreal en lumière festival this week, a gourmet dinner at the Mythik resto with the menu created by Lowe and his old friend Jeremy Charles, a Newfoundland chef. Lowe hails from the town of Forestville on the North Shore and he says the menu Friday and Saturday will feature the kind of similar fare both guys grew up eating, things like oysters, moose and cod. The soirée will include projections chronicling their lives, their food loves and their background in Quebec and Newfoundland.

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Lowe and Charles first met 25 years ago when they worked in the kitchen together at the trendy St-Laurent Blvd. eatery Mediterraneo back in the ’90s when that strip of The Main north of Sherbrooke St. was hopping. It was the days of working hard and partying hard, and they became fast friends.

Fast forward a quarter century and Lowe bumped into Charles at the first morning skate of this season at the Bell Centre. Turns out Charles is good friends with Habs forward Alex Newhook, who’s also from Newfoundland, and Newhook had invited the chef to come visit the Canadiens rink. Lowe and Charles start talking and thought it would be great to do something together. Et voilà!

“We’re going to showcase a lot of things coming up from the shore,” Lowe said. “We’ll have oysters from Newfoundland. We’ll have sea urchins from the North Shore, snow crab from the North Shore as well, cod from Newfoundland. So we’ll be jumping from one place to another. We’ll have some duck foie gras. The plan is to have four courses made by Jeremy and three courses made by me.”

Lowe said his approach to cooking is deeply influenced by where he grew up.

“I used to spend my days in the woods, building little houses with my friends,” Lowe said. “But also eating out of the forest. Strawberries, blueberries. Walking on the beach you had mussels. I used to go fish with a shovel, the mussels and the clams. That’s why me and Jeremy get along so well. I see a lot of common points. Our family was hunting moose. We used to go on weekdays after school and fish trout up until sunset. On a daily basis. And Jeremy had the same kinds of habits. He loves to hunt and fish. So that dinner is based on a North Shore (meets) Newfoundland menu.”

For more info on the event, visit evenko.ca.

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