Posted at 7:00 a.m.
It is between two states of mind that we find him at home, in his more than a century-old house in the Plateau Mont-Royal, where he shows us all those details that make the charm of the house. – fruits of his “handyman side”. For a week, he has been oscillating in a floating zone, where the reality of this leap into the void that he has offered himself has not yet fully imposed itself.
Normally, at this time, I am on vacation until August. So I try to get closer to that vacation state and just relax.
For the first time in his 38-year career in television, Denis Gagné himself pulled out the ax when he announced last winter his decision to leave the show at the end of the season. “The craving for the vertigo of the blank page” had taken over. “It’s the first time that it’s me who decides that I’m leaving. Otherwise, I was always fired or the show was flushed, ”he says, laconic.
Gone are the weeks of galloping work, filming, meetings, surveys, taste tests and test benches. But he never thought of the word “retirement”. “It’s more of a withdrawal, let’s say. In the short term, I’ll take it easy. I don’t want to go back so intensely now. »
At 64, Denis Gagné wanted to write a new chapter, far from the frenetic pace of a weekly show which produces 50 episodes a year and which he co-hosted first with Marie-Josée Taillefer, then with Johanne Despins. since 2007.
The grocery store, it’s a third of my life. Half of my professional life. I loved doing the show; it was great.
Then there were those mornings, with the pandemic, where he woke up with the feeling that “it was a job”. The call of the countryside, too, has grown, with this house built in Bromont, 11 years ago, on the land of an old family farm where the animator from Sherbrooke founded an agricultural cooperative, Oak Hill Farm.
“You’re on the edge of a precipice, in a way. That doesn’t mean you’re going to jump; it just means to regain control. Who am I now? And who am I, for the next 10 years? »
Food processing witness
Even if he remains modest about his feelings, we understand that the decision was not easy to make. “It’s a lot… because it’s hard to leave people you love, people of great talent”, he just says, thoughtfully.
In two decades, he has been a privileged witness to the food and agricultural transformation of Quebec. “It has changed so much. We went from soluble coffee to third wave espresso. From industrial cheese to farmhouse cheese. Cheese, cider, wine, beer… we are completely uninhibited now about all the local products. »
Twenty years ago, we didn’t really care what was in the product. Practicality and price prevailed. We have become attentive and educated about the content of food and that makes life more difficult for manufacturers, who can no longer do anything.
He is also delighted to see the culinary mix that has spread to supermarkets where you can now find everything from curries to kimchi.
But how many times has he wanted to intervene on news affecting the agricultural world, restrained by the duty of reserve imposed on him by his status as a journalist? Without going so far as to play politics, as some have suggested to him more than once – “because I don’t want to work more, I want to work less! he exclaims, laughing – he doesn’t rule out the idea of giving his opinion “from time to time”, now that he can.
Otherwise, projects, he has a head full of them. Starting with the renovation of the barn on the farm. Then there is this serigraphy course that we offered him. And why not another to learn Spanish? Who knows, maybe he’ll even bring out his old guitar.
“All the things you don’t do ‘because of the job’…sometimes it’s just an excuse. We’ll see if the guitar comes out of its case. I can’t wait to see where it takes me , all that. ”
One thing is certain, he will always have so much fun visiting the public markets, here or when travelling.
Until then, he wishes us a “good grocery store”, for the last time.
The last broadcast of The grocery store with Denis Gagné will be broadcast Wednesday, at 7:30 p.m., on Radio-Canada, and will pay a special tribute to the host while highlighting the 20e anniversary of the show with features from longtime fans.