(Rimouski) Since last year, you can eat canned river bourgots, no matter the time of year, thanks to Chasse-Marée. We met the founders Emmanuel Sandt-Duguay and Guillaume Werstink in their artisanal factory in Rimouski located on the banks of the Saint-Laurent, on route 132.

The first was born in Rimouski, the second near Paris, but Emmanuel Sandt-Duguay and Guillaume Werstink were made to cross paths. However, it took a detour to Vietnam, where Emmanuel first met the woman who was to become the mother of Guillaume’s four children.

They then became roommates during their studies at the University of Quebec at Rimouski (UQAR), where Guillaume landed as part of a student exchange.

“I had no idea where I was going to land. When I was told Rimouski, I said OK without knowing where it was, ”he says.

“It’s been 20 years already!” », launches his friend and partner.

It is always on the banks of the St. Lawrence River in Rimouski that we meet the fisherman and the oceanographer, not far from the wharf where their project – which became Chasse-Marée – was born in 2016.

At the time, a reception was held for the foundation of UQAR. Chef Normand Laprise was to be present and he invited his friend Colombe St-Pierre. “Manu and I picked ourselves up on the dock with them. They explained to us their difficulty in supplying products from the river,” says Guillaume.

“That was the trigger for our project,” adds Emmanuel.

Initially, he and Guillaume created a circuit of fresh seafood products. “It was good, but we were limited by the fishing season which is very short. »

But it wasn’t as simple as that… “It was a long road of crosses before arriving at these small cans”, says Guillaume.

Colombe St-Pierre recently denounced the rigidity of the authorities of regulatory bodies. The chef who is the pride of Bas-Saint-Laurent has been caught up in administrative maze. Guillaume and Emmanuel too.

Just before the pandemic, the two partners bought the building where we met them. For them, it was the dream place on the river. Emmanuel could pass by boat in front and the products could be canned on site.

They were made to understand that a two-month delay was to be expected before obtaining the permits required to operate as a seafood processing company. You should know that the federal government regulates everything related to fishing, while processing is a provincial responsibility.

As required by procedure, a public interest committee – made up of community stakeholders – was to receive their request and make a recommendation to the Quebec Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ).

However, the two entrepreneurs were refused. “It’s no wonder when you consult competitors,” says Emmanuel. In the regulations, there is no distinction between a company of 250 people and our project. »

In short, the Chasse-Marée project – more artisanal than industrial – has been misunderstood. “We didn’t want to revolutionize anything and especially not to abuse the resource. Just canning. »

“It’s a specialty product that didn’t exist,” Emmanuel says philosophically today.

Everything is settled, so that since last year, Chasse-Marée has been marketing three flavors of bourgots: camelina oil, lobster bisque and boreal brine. The recipes were created by friends and renowned chefs Pierre-Olivier Ferry, Tommy Roy and Colombe St-Pierre.

Nearly 20,000 first preserves were produced last year, which earned Chasse-Marée a finalist at the last gala of the Lauriers de la gastronomie québécoise in the producer of the year category. There was a shortage of stock as early as Christmas, but production will increase this year.

We visited the facilities of Chasse-Marée last April just before the launch of whelk fishing.

“The first week of production starts next week if all goes well,” announced Guillaume. I think Emmanuel is outside patenting the nets and preparing the traps. »

The latter has two boats, The Jaki and the Marco Polo. He likes the ritual of the fishing season which resumes. “Breathing the salty air and getting back on the water is ingrained in me,” he says.

Quite rightly, the father arrives… Renaud Duguay has just arrived from Boucherville, where he and his wife have a house (Emmanuel also did his secondary studies on the South Shore).

“Did you have a nice winter?” “, he says, getting out of his vehicle.

At 73, Renaud Duguay is still preparing for his return to sea in the estuary. “I have a small halibut license,” he says. It is a very interesting fish. »

“It takes projects to move forward,” he argues.

Projects, his son Emmanuel and his partner Guillaume have their heads full for Chasse-Marée. The holder of a master’s degree in maritime resource management and the oceanographer want to promote lesser-known species of the river, including Stimpson’s surf clams and redfish.

Underestimated flesh, argue the two friends since university.