Dinner with strangers | The Press

Every month, two friends make the somewhat crazy bet of having six strangers over for a five-course dinner. And this month, I’m in.

Kato Langlois-Muftikian and Élie Madison have long dreamed of a joint project. The first describes herself as an “amateur chef who does not want to work in restaurants to avoid ruining her hobby”. The 25-year-old woman therefore works for the Turbo Haüs bar and the Alternative Gala of Independent Music of Quebec. The second is chef of the restaurant Le Xavier, in Terrebonne, and musician.

They were made to get along, they are convinced of it. Besides, they have been getting along for eight years.

Last summer, Élie invited Kato to dinner at his house. The 34-year-old chef lives in a large shared apartment on the Plateau Mont-Royal and the meal brought together people from different backgrounds. Kato had an epiphany: “What if that was our project? »

Thus were born the “strangers’ suppers”. Every month, the duo would cook a five-course menu for people who didn’t know each other!


Kato Langlois-Muftikian and Élie Madison organize five-course dinners every month for people who don’t know each other.

The two friends launched an appeal on their respective social networks. After three editions, the list of interested parties still includes around fifty names. They plan to replenish it shortly and include people beyond their circle of acquaintances.

The project is large-scale, both on a social and culinary level. Kato and Élie determine the menu together and are keen to invent recipes. On the day of the reception, they go shopping on foot (they don’t have a car), return with tired arms and cook for hours.

“The first time, we were too ambitious,” recalls Élie Madison with a laugh. It took us two days to prepare and we had way too much food. We ask everyone for a $20 contribution, but we never get there! Fortunately, last month, my meat supplier at the restaurant (My beautiful good beef) offered me a piece of scoter because he found the project cool. »

Kato Langlois-Muftikian outbids us: “The ideal would be for it to be big enough to have sponsors. Not to make cash, just to bring people together around a table. That’s what makes Élie and me tick. We’re always nervous to see how they’ll interact, but that’s part of the challenge! When couples register, we explain to them that they will have to come separately. »

“It’s not for the anxious,” adds Élie.

Even I, being a sociable person by nature, wonder a little what it will be like…


Élie welcomes Rose-Aimée with a glass of wine.

My fears dissipated upon my arrival. Everyone is gathered in the courtyard of the apartment and I take the opportunity to discover the bond that unites the participants to the hosts.

When Jo left Rimouski for Montreal eight years ago, it was Kato who helped him find his place to live.

“I’m here because I know how Kato cooks,” says Dany.

Like Dany, Alexis met Kato at the bar where she works. The concept of strangers’ dinners enchants him: “I like discovering the history of others, then I am a foodie ; all my money goes into food! »

Sandrine is a friend of a friend. Then Joune does not know Kato or Élie. Like me, she heard about their online initiative. Although sociable, she finds it difficult to make friends outside of work and school: “In bars, people immediately think of flirting,” she laments. This kind of evening seems promising to him.

The aperitif leads us to discuss our relationship with alcohol. Jo shows me her left wrist. Three hair elastics surround it. He’ll take one away for every drink he drinks tonight. Afterwards, if he wants to, he can count on an “emergency elastic”, he explains to me, this time showing off his right wrist. Four drinks, maximum. This technique helps him to be aware of what he is ingesting and to ask himself, “Do I really want this next drink?” »


From our relationship with alcohol, we move on to our worst stories of breakups in public. Amazing discussions for a handful of people who don’t know each other. Then, around 7:30 p.m., we go down to the basement of the apartment where a large table is set up. While Élie watches over the final preparations upstairs, Kato describes the first course of this spring-inspired menu: a dish of raw vegetables topped with brown butter and royal aioli.

  • Grilled asparagus and poached egg


    Grilled asparagus and poached egg

  • Citrus Salmon with Mango Salsa


    Citrus Salmon with Mango Salsa

  • Kiwi Pavlova with Vanilla Ice Cream


    Kiwi Pavlova with Vanilla Ice Cream


Followed by grilled asparagus with whipped cream with asparagus stems and lemon, poached egg and sunflower seeds; a portobello stuffed with crab gratin; citrus salmon with mango salsa; and a mint-macerated kiwi pavlova with vanilla ice cream and basil chiffonade.

It’s divine. That our hosts go to such lengths to feed people they don’t even know (hello!) is beyond me. Mind you, we quickly get to know each other.

During the evening, Kato tells us about the political situation in Armenia; Élie, solidarity in the catering industry; Joune, daily life in emergency shelters for homeless women; Dany and Jo, typical expressions from Bas-du-Fleuve (“arsoudre, it’s conjugated like a verb of the third group”); Alexis, merits of the song Crazy Frog (!) and Sandrine, by the surrealist painter Mimi Parent.

On the table, cans of Old Milwaukee sit alongside glasses of orange wine. Like the drinks, our meeting is unexpected, but rich. This dinner of strangers sounds like a dinner of friends.

I will come out almost six hours later. I will be the first to leave the party. And Jo will no longer have elastic on her wrists.

Visit the Instagram page Les suppers d’unconnus

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