On Thursday, Montreal Gazette food critic Lesley Chesterman announced her departure in her last restaurant review. According to Chesterman’s review, Toqué, chef Normand Laprise’s long-standing establishment, was less than stellar, but she avoids handing out any stars. “After 25 years of patronizing this restaurant, enjoying countless epic meals created by Laprise and staff past and present, my love for Toqué! will not be quashed by one mediocre meal. And for that reason, allow me to hold off on the star rating for this last review,” Chesterman explains in her review.
Chesterman’s retirement adds to a dwindling number of restaurant critics across Canada. Toronto’s critic of 10 years, Chris Nuttall-Smith, left The Globe and Mail in 2016, leaving Vancouver’s Alexandra Gill as the last long-standing one in the country.
Despite the decline, the paper’s Prairie food critic and Eat North co-founder, Dan Clapson, notes that Chesterman set the stage for restaurant reviews in Canada. “Even before I took on a restaurant critic role with The Globe and Mail in 2015, I always looked to Chesterman's reviews in terms of finding a balance between writing informatively and critically. Twenty years is a commendable length of time to maintain quality of work and respect of peers and restaurant industry professionals alike. I'm looking forward to seeing what her next move will be,” he says.
Other industry elite seem to second that sentiment, chiming in on social media after Chesterman made her announcement. Chef and owner of Impasto, Michele Forgione, posted a heartfelt comment, saying that, “Lesley, all I can say is the next person will have huge shoes to fill and I am honoured and humbled to have been your student, your mentor, and friend. What an illustrious legacy; can’t wait to see what’s next.”