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SCOTT JAGOW: Life in Montreal is really about food. It’s a city known for long lunches, late night dining and hip bistros. There’s a new bistro that’s getting a lot of attention right now. It’s called Robin des Bois. That means Robin Hood. And yes, the restaurant feeds the rich and gives its profits to the poor. Here’s Judith Ritter.
JUDITH RITTER: It’s not easy to get a reservation at Montreal’s hot new eatery Robin des Bois. Tonight this sleek bistro is packed. Even big name actors and directors are on a waiting list. Not just to dine but to work so money saved on wages can be donated to the poor.
CATHERINE PILON: Tonight is my first night and it’s very special but I’m a little nervous.
Catherine Pilon usually directs music videos for Quebec’s version of MTV. Clearly she’s more comfortable giving orders than taking them.
CUSTOMER: I ‘d like to know what you put in your boudin creole
PILON: Good question, for me it’s my first time, oh my God! I’ll be right back.
She hasn’t a clue. But the diners celebrating a birthday are unfazed. They know the servers are volunteers and the profits go to local charities. They’ve also heard that the server, the one who might be spilling a glass of water on them, might even be a local media heartthrob.
PHILLIPE FERMIAUX: Patrice Crocaux was here, one of the most famous actors in Quebec and he was here serving on the tables and obviously people were just actually freaking out.
That’s TV personality Phillipe Femiaux. His wife Judy Servay is the mastermind behind the Robin Hood concept.
The idea caught on with their glittery acquaintances and now there’s a waiting list of 1,400 ready to work for free.
The chefs get paid but not what they’re used to. But for chef Sebastien Courville, that’s just fine.
SEBASTIEN COURVILLE: It touches me everyday because they give to the community. I really love it. It’s really rich.
And while other restaurants struggle for financing, not this place. A local bank gave them $25,000 to start up and after just four months Robin des Bois is in the black. So, early in New Year the hotspot will turn over its first profits to a homeless shelter, a project for street kids, and a food bank.
In the meantime, show business folks are working hard to master a new profession.
PILON: Okay, one boudin creole . . . and something to drink?
Over at the birthday table the music video director turned server is getting a little smoothera€¦.
PILON: I’ll be better by my third table.
Good Luck Catherine. Just don’t quit your day job
In Montreal, I’m Judith Ritter for Marketplace.