Three Immigrants’ Culinary Dream Comes True in Quebec

Three Immigrants’ Culinary Dream Comes True in Quebec
Three Immigrants’ Culinary Dream Comes True in Quebec

“Growing together” is Carolina Gomez’s motto when she talks about her two partners in the Quebec adventure of Maison Padma.

The idea for a brand where specialty coffee and world cuisine come together first germinated while she was still living in Cali, her hometown in Colombia.

Maison Padma had a first life there for six years before taking root in the form of a café in the Saint-Roch district last March.

We had to wait until the first days of April to discover a second drop-off point in Charlesbourg.

A restaurant where you can taste forehead bonusesa cheese bread as cooked in Colombia, shellsa traditional Mexican sweet roll, or the iconic French recipe of beef bourguignon.

Carolina Gomez, co-owner of Maison Padma, focuses on specialty coffee produced by farmers in her native country. (Frédéric Matte/Le Soleil Archives)

“For us, catering and gastronomy are about highlighting the human capacity to exchange and cooperate,” insists Ms. Gomez.

This is also one of the foundations of the project, which emerged within the solidarity cooperative OPUS Coop.

The latter aims to support people from immigrant backgrounds in their integration into the job market and within the Quebec community.

In addition to providing a financial boost, the organization allowed Ms. Gomez to meet Aurélien Gauthier and Darly Calderon, two experienced cooks of French and Colombian origin, who became her business partners.

“We have a good network in the cooperative, but also in Quebec. It’s a very beautiful city to develop projects and implement dreams,” says the woman who is also a project manager at OPUS Coop.

Flavors as we know them

Rediscovering the taste of dishes as they were originally enjoyed is one of the aims of those behind the stoves.

“We don’t adapt them to please Quebecers, who like sweet things,” warns Mr. Gauthier, who was chef at the bistro boréal Chez Boulay.

At her side, Ms. Calderon, who worked in kitchens in Spain and Scotland before stopping in Quebec in 2019, maintains that around a table, each customer can discover a dish from a different origin.

“In our country, a person can eat empanadasa lasagna or beef bourguignon,” she gives examples.

While sandwiches and pastries are served at the café, the Maison Padma restaurant offers more elaborate dishes inspired by world cuisine. (Frédéric Matte/Le Soleil)

All while keeping in mind the need to source locally.

“It’s very important that we make dishes with local products. We have to support the environment where you set foot. It’s a cultural exchange,” enthuses Ms. Gomez.

The cooperative as a binder

For Julian Quintero, general director of OPUS Coop, the Maison Padma was a project that “brought benefits to the community.” Hence the need to push the trio to make it happen.

Human and financial resources were provided to support the project so that it could take off.

“The advantage of the cooperative is that we have already been through several journeys. We have already made some start-ups. All the challenges and difficulties of integration, we already have people in the cooperative who know them,” he explains.

“There is always someone who can help you, give you advice, show you their journey, point you to a resource. We don’t do everything [de façon] isolated.”

— Julian Quintero

Julian Quintero, general director of the solidarity cooperative OPUS Coop (Frédéric Matte/Le Soleil)

The restaurant on Boulevard Louis XIV in Charlesbourg is located within the walls of the OPUS Coop headquarters.

There is also the company Nettoie Prêt, which works in the field of housekeeping. This is the first project set up by the cooperative since its beginnings in 2012.

Creating quality jobs, enabling access to financial independence and providing assistance to immigrants are the guiding principles of the organization’s actions. The latter currently has a dozen active members.

Maison Padma in two addresses

  • 767, boulevard Louis XIV
  • 417, Saint-Vallier Street East


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