We all know that food is such an intricate part of Montreal. For me, the aspect that takes precedence is the burger scene. That scene is so much more than the burgers themselves, but the people who make that all possible. There are so many angles and directions that come from that and I hope let you in on some of that. Hopefully, about once a month, I hope to introduce you to people who make Montreal what it is, all the while grilling them (pardon the pun) on what’s important to a lot of us, burgers.
Last month, I received an e-mail message from a PR firm based out of Toronto. I didn’t quite take it too seriously because I thought it was one of those mass e-mails sent for promotion. It wasn’t until there was a follow-up sent where I had to take this seriously. This is the result from a series of e-mail exchanges I had with Toronto. Ultimately, what you’ll see here is something that’s been brewing in my head for the last few months.
Let me take this time to introduce the 2 participants in this monumental occasion. They are the tandem Community Managers responsible for Yelp Montreal, Risa Dickens (left) and Marie-Pier Rochon (right). For those of you who are not aware of Yelp, you should know that they are really awesome. Seriously, Yelp is a site that allows regular, average people to review just about anything from restaurants, laudromats, all the way to the neighborhood parks. On top of that, there are many events that are organized, prompting members to come out in numbers. This is all accomplished because the lines of communications are open and encouraged. Risa and Marie-Pier are responsible for making sure all this runs smoothly by coordinating the Montreal site with business.
So, believe you me, I wasn’t 100% sure what I was going to be doing for this feature. This is a huge first for me and the GBS, but one that I hope will add a new dynamic. After the date and no less than 3 restaurants were suggested, we landed on Resto Smile on Boulevard Saint-Laurent (Burger 154).
I arrived right around the meeting time to find Risa already sitting in the booth at the restaurant. As most first meetings go, it was a little slow, as we were also waiting for the second half of the team to show up. Luckily, we weren’t waiting long, as Marie-Pier arrived promptly and we were on our way.
First of all, let me say that getting to spend 90 minutes with these 2 was an absolute pleasure. You almost notice right away how in sync they really are. Even though they represent two different languages in their duties as Community Managers, they seem to have meshed that well into one powerful team. The story they told me of their first day still rings in my mind. They showed up on their first day at Yelp, without ever having met each other, being dressed to a tee as similarly as humanly possible. It was meant to be.
We had the chance to sit down and go through what you’ll be seeing a little later, but more importantly, we shared a burger. During that time, I picked up on a few things. As the food came down on the table, the attention turned to the building right across the street, which happens to be the Ubisoft offices. Something as small as speculation as to whether Ubisoft had a rooftop terrasse showcased how they gelled as a team.
Individually, as similar as they seem, they are also quite different individuals. Risa is someone who seems more laid back, but possesses quite strong and simple opinions. The best example of that is when I asked about burger ingredients and she was adamant about bacon. I have to say that anyone who puts bacon forth like that is really awesome. Having done the whole Montreal university experience at both major English institutions, she understands our special part of the world and tackles it with a unique brand of humour.
On the other hand, Marie-Pier, who comes to us from Aylmer, is someone who appears to have great dedication to what she does. Her experiences in the Ottawa area and then briefly in Australia, has given her a real perspective on life. One example of that is the fact that she’s spearheading The Yelp Committee for Poutine Tasting. That’s one idea that someone like me can really support and follow. The final thing that really struck me is that she pretty much kept up the same smile for the duration of the interview and who can argue with that?
Risa Dickens – English MTL Community Manager
Risa’s heart has always belonged to Montreal. After completing her BA at McGill, and MA in Media Studies at Concordia she co-founded the Montreal arts network Indyish.com before becoming Yelp’s Community Manager in town. As the Montreal Anglo Community Manager, Risa works with locals and small businesses to showcase everything useful, funny and cool about Montreal – from obscure dives, to the latest and greatest local restaurants; from the best in the big festivals, to the sweetest underground events. She is excited about some upcoming promotions, including Yelp Helps in July with Pop Montreal and the Canadian Liver Foundation, and #YelpWins with Just For Laughs and Blue Skies Turn Black.
Marie-Pier Rochon – French MTL Community Manager
Marie-Pier a toujours su que son coeur appartient à Montréal. Après avoir complété un baccalauréat en communications organisationnelle à l’Université d’Ottawa, elle a passé un total de cinq ans au gouvernement fédéral en tant que conseillère en communications internes avant de tout quitter pour passer une année en Australie “sans cubicule.” Elle y est devenue pâtissière, représentante de vins australiens et rédactrice à la pige pour des événements tel que Creative Sydney. Lors de son retour en belle province, elle a choisi de s’établir dans sa ville de rêve, Montréal, où elle est devenue la Chef de communauté francophone pour Yelp. En tant que Chef de communauté, Marie-Pier travaille avec de petites entreprises locales pour mettre en valeur ce qu’il y a de plus utile, drôle et cool à Montréal allant de boutiques obscures à des grands restaurants locaux, en passant par des petits événements uniques aux plus grands festivals en ville.
You can find Yelp Montreal on Twitter here: @yelpmontreal
What is Yelp?
Risa: A website and free app that puts you in touch with great local businesses and other local lovin members of our community.
Marie-Pier: Yelp est un site Web et une application mobile qui connecte les gens de Montréal aux commerces de la ville les plus utiles, drôles et cools.
What is the basic idea behind Yelp Helps and #YelpWins?
R: Yelp Helps is a set of volunteer opportunities for Yelpers with local non-profits, and a party celebrating the great work being done by these non-profits in Montreal. The first ever Yelp Helps party happened July 28, 2012 at Deux Gamins, featured a dozen non-profits who each hosted cool interactive games and creative projects for the over 350 guests who came out to connect with them.
#YelpWins is an ongoing ticket giveaway to excellent shows happening around Montreal. RSVPing to events with #YelpWins in the title on the Yelp Montreal Events page automatically enters you into a draw to win.
How does Yelp differ from other forms of social media like Facebook/Twitter?
R: Yelp is about local businesses, real places. Our community speaks up for what is great (and keeps it real on what is not so great) and in doing so provides info for millions of people who use Yelp every day to make purchasing decisions.
MP: Yelp est une communauté de gens qui aiment découvrir des commerces locaux et qui ont donc des intérêts similaires. De plus, puisque Risa et moi planifions des événements régulièrement pour encourager les Yelpeurs à découvrir ce qu’il y a de meilleur en ville, la communauté Yelp existe autant hors ligne que sur le Web.
What is the story behind the Yelp Poutine Tasting Committee?
MP: Une Yelpeuse a proposé l’idée d’aller à la quête à la meilleure poutine en ville via une discussion sur le Chat. À notre premier rendez-vous, à Poutineville sur Ontario, on a décidé de se rencontrer à chaque mois pour essayer un nouvel endroit. Ça commencé avec 6 Yelpeurs et à notre dernier rendez-vous, on était plus de 15 personnes qui se sont rassemblées pour manger de la poutine!
Which parts of Montreal would you say define this city?
R: The city is everything from the historic elegance of the Vieux Port to the tasty joints tucked in Parc-Ex and beyond. Every neighborhood has something to love, especially if you ask the people who grew up there!
MP: Pour son côté historique, le Vieux Montréal est un bon point de départ, mais pour le Montréal d’aujourd’hui, les rues St-Denis et St-Laurent, les marchés (Jean Talon et Atwater) et la Plaza St-Hubert sont des incontournables. Rosemont et St-Henri représente aussi très bien Montréal pour sa vie de tous les jours et sont mes coups de cœur du moment. On y trouve tout ce qu’il faut sans avoir à aller ailleurs et les petits commerces locaux abondent.
Which Montreal eateries would you recommend to anyone coming here?
R: The Main, Patati Patata, and a jillion others.
MP: J’aime bien recommander des quartiers spécifiques comme Rosemont, Petite Italie, HoMa et laisser les gens découvrir des nouveaux endroits par eux-mêmes parce qu’il y a toujours des nouveaux endroits à Montréal. Pour les touristes, le Schwartz’s, Poutineville et St-Viateur sont des endroits parfaits pour découvrir les « bases » de la nourriture de Montréal. Mon top 5 du moments inclu Jane, Smoking Vallée, Bevo, Deux Gamins et Kitchenette.
Where is your go-to burger place?
R: Nouveau Palais.
MP: Je n’ai pas un endroit en particulier, mais j’aime comparer les différents « fast food » locaux comme Dilallo, Buns, Poutine Lafleur et les restos de quartier qui semblent exister depuis des décennies.
What are your must-have ingredients on a burger?
R: Bacon, mayo, pickles, tomato, high quality cheese.
MP: Des oignions caramélisés, des champignons et un bon fromage, comme du brie. J’aime les combinaisons qui sont tellement goûteuses à elles seules qu’elle ne nécessite pas de condiments. Accompagné d’un milkshake au chocolat, c’est le bonheur!
If you were faced with having to have your final meal, where, what, and with who would it be?
R: Family and friends at one of our traditional Koldtbord by a lake.
MP: Ça serait avec ma famille immédiate pour les pâtes papillons aux tomates, vodka et saumon fumé de ma mère dans la maison où j’ai grandi.
Well, with that, I hope you’ve learned a thing or two about the two faces of Yelp Montreal. From the short period of time I spent with them, I know that the growing community of Yelp Montreal is in good hands. For those of you who are wondering where the actual burgers are, you’ll have to log back on in a few days to see the end result of Burger 154.
Until then, Risa and Marie-Pier made sure to remind me to let you all know the following: Yelp is REALLY AWESOME.