We all love poutine. Canada’s national dish of French fries, squeaky fresh cheese curds and gravy is the ultimate comfort food – and nobody does it better than Blue Caribou.

News that the pop-up traders will soon be joining fellow street food favourites Holy Crab, Mac Daddies and Fusion Lab in the Arndale Market has naturally got us very excited.

So we asked founders Graham Gartside-Bernier, from Bolton, and his partner Vincent Bernier, from Québec, to tell us more about what diners can expect from the new opening.

“We spent a lot of time together in Montréal and when we moved to Manchester, really missed the dish,” says Graham about the pair’s love of poutine.

“You couldn’t find a truly authentic version of it anywhere. We set out to create it ourselves and it took two years of searching before we found the right cheese curds to make the dish complete.

“We knew that if we didn’t get all of the key components right, we would never hear the end of it from any true Québecer who really understands the dish and the place it has in French-Canadian culture.”

The pair perfected poutine, and following a series of pop-ups across the city and beyond – not to mention a TV appearance on BBC’s Million Pound Menu with Fred Sirieix – they can’t wait to get settled into their new permanent home.

And they’ll be bringing some new menu items with them, too.

“We wanted to embrace the snack bar culture of Québec and expand our menu to include other diner classics from the province,” says Graham.

“We’ll be adding Montréal-style hot dogs, hot chicken dipped sandwiches, craft beers from Québec, maple syrup sodas and other products from the region.

“We really want to give a true flavour of La Belle Province and showcase some of the cool independent food and drink things that are happening there.”

What was the pair’s experience of appearing on Million Pound Menu? Is the Dragons Den meets The Apprentice show as nerve-wracking as it looks?

“Cooking our humble poutine for some of the country’s best restaurateurs and investors was a daunting experience,” admits Graham, who says the pair were “terrified and then massively relieved.”

Graham hasn’t actually watched the episode they appeared in yet, admitting he “sat watching social media instead, nervous about what people would think of us.”

He was overwhelmed by the kind feedback from strangers following the TV broadcast, though.

“We hope if nothing else that our passion for Québec and Canada came through and that people will now be encouraged to seek us out.”

What are the pair looking forward to most about their new permanent home, after years spent doing pop-ups and festivals?

“We can’t wait to be warm and not dependent on the weather!” says Graham.

“We are also looking forward to being next door to our pals Holy Crab and other Million Pound Menu alumni Wholesome Junkie.

“We hope we’ll collectively be bringing something cool to the south side of the Arndale Market.”

Blue Caribou will open in the Arndale Market on 30th April.

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