We spoke with Daniel Picard, co-founder of Épices du Warrior, to learn more about the company, the importance and originality of spices and the indigenous terroir.
By Mélissa Gaudreault
Officially launched in 2018, Warrior Spices are “mixtures of plants and herbs that we pick from indigenous territory and we make mixtures that are aimed at today’s audience. We put part of the indigenous terroir on the plates of Quebecers to help you discover our gastronomic culture,” explains Daniel Picard.
The company was originally created “to help fund youth activities for indigenous children.” We had the idea of spending time at the St-Tite Western Festival in 2017 and selling a product x to finance the activities as we do every year for young people. Patrice Dion, who already worked with me, said to me “We could make your spices. They’re good, I’m convinced it would work. » And I had the idea of saying that since we are indigenous, we are going to put this in a real log of wood in which we are going to carve a hole so it will make a nice gift, something that has air of prestige, which well represents our magnificent terroir. »
Products and ingredients
Daniel Picard and Patrice Dion offer us a variety of spice blends to enhance our dishes without too much effort and without spending a fortune, while discovering the native terroir.
We therefore find the classic blends, which are mixtures of indigenous boreal plants and contemporary spices, everyday blends “to enhance and give unique flavors to all dishes and to make cooking easier,” declares Daniel Picard.
The Tomahawk Blend clearly illustrates the marriage between indigenous and Quebec terroir since it is made from maple sugar, Hickory smoked salt, paprika, several types of pepper, and other ingredients.
The mixture of myrique balsam (fruity, lively, woody taste) and pepper from the dunes of Quebec, which “has the particularity of developing its spicy taste the more you chew it”, represents the indigenous terroir well. Next comes maple sugar, which was the basis of the indigenous diet and the type of sugar that existed at the time and was created by First Nations. Finally, chaga, which is a mushroom with a vanilla and hazelnut flavor, is becoming very popular and known among Quebecers.
There are also ready-to-cook mixes for all kinds of dishes like ribs, chicken thighs, BBQ, hot dogs, baloney, smoked meat, etc. Warrior Spices offers a host of other derivative products such as coffee mixes, sauces and more.
The most popular spice blends are: bacon pepper, wild mushroom salt and chaga coffee.
His favorite product: bagel seasoning, which is made with sesame, which he uses with any dish he would normally put salt in.
The classic blends were created by the two partners Daniel Picard and Patrice Dion, while the other blends such as the ready-to-cook mixes are made by chef Peter Moineau who takes the basic ideas of the two partners and works them for them. make them “commercial”, that is to say, ensure that they are regulatory according to food market standards in order to be able to be sold.
Warrior’s Spices can be found in nearly 1,000 points of sale such as the Grand Marché de Québec, the Warrior’s Spices head office in Wendake and in local and specialized businesses (e.g.: delicatessen, butcher, fishmonger, bakery, health grocery stores, cheese shops, restaurants, IGA, Metro, Amazon, etc.).
Importance of the terroir
We can say that the Spices of the Warrior company is a bit of an emblem of the indigenous terroir since their products represent it well for all the reasons mentioned above. Furthermore, their name comes from the gatherer, the one who braves the elements and fatigue to gather the ingredients necessary for cooking which are difficult to find. He is therefore a warrior, hence the name Warrior Spices.
Daniel Picard therefore tries to raise public awareness of the origins of what we eat, of the importance of not overexploiting resources, of the fact that the nature that surrounds us is not only the pantry of First Nations, it is also ours. We immediately notice the respect they have for what nature has to offer them through their practices.
“We have very strict rules. There is no question of us cutting down trees to pick our plants, we use no pesticides, we will cultivate a certain percentage of our land so it regenerates extremely well, we will even pick on the side of the highways in Gaspésie because there are plants everywhere and people don’t know it, so there is really an environmental awareness to use the land well so that we still have access to it for hundreds of years. »
The company’s concept shows the importance of spices in First Nations cuisine; since there is not much variety in the foods available, “herbs, spices, teas will compliment this diet which is weak in flavors. »
More broadly, cooking occupies an important place among the First Nations: “it’s life, it’s sharing, it’s the time when we are with family. In many indigenous communities, several generations live together under the same roof, so it is a way of sharing and using our territory. Each month, each season brings its ingredients and the meal becomes the center of discussions. »