Curious Crumbs: Combining love, life and food

CBC New Brunswick has travelled across the province in search of restaurants serving up surprising dishes in small places. For the fourth and final part of the series, we visited Bistro Coeur d'Artishow in Petit-Rocher.

Imagine working and living in the same space. How would that make you feel? 

Well, for the owners of a small vegetarian restaurant in Petit-Rocher, it's their dream. 

"We share lots of love … and people say when they come here, it's like they come to our house, and they do, because it's our house," said Karim Yazgy, the owner of Bistro Coeur d'Artishow, a vegetarian restaurant near the Chaleur Bay.

Yazgy owns the bistro with his partner and singer-songwriter Michel Carpentier. While Yazgy is busy cooking vegetarian dishes in the cramped kitchen, Carpentier is singing between tables and hosting.

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"Then when he comes in here, we yell at each other, we argue," Yazgy said. "So the staff has to be forewarned, but they know there's a lot of love. It's just that when you work together and live together … it gets hectic."

Yazgy was born in Egypt, but grew up in Montreal. He was never formally trained as a chef but as a child he managed to sneak glances into his mother's kitchen.

"I would watch, but she'd say, 'Get out my legs, I don't like people around me when I'm cooking.' So I never really learned," he said, adding that he did teach himself to cook through taste.

And now, Yazgy said. he's just like his mother.

When Carpentier asks if he can help his partner in the kitchen, he's met with the same comment Yazgy got from his mother.

Because of this, Yazgy said, the pair are definitely a case of opposites attract.

"He's very punctual and very well read and very disciplined and I'm none of that," he said. 

"I'm like the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland — I'm always late, late, late."

Yazgy met Carpentier in Montreal. Carpentier loves the city, but Yazgy always wanted a taste of the quiet life. 

During a road trip through the Maritimes, they stumbled upon a small café and fell in love.

In 2009, the pair renamed the café to match Yazgy's love of artichokes and vegetarian dishes.

And then Coeur d'Artishow was born. 

Submitted by Karim Yazgi

"Which is a play on words, on arts and show, rather than the artichoke itself," Yazgy said.

Yazgy isn't a vegetarian, but he has a love of vegetarian dishes. When he moved to Petit-Rocher, he expected a vegetarian restaurant would take some getting used to by the locals. 

"Everybody is either a hunter or a fisherman here, it's official," he said. "So the fact that it was vegetarian kind of put off a lot of people.

"They all suggest, 'Oh, you should do this, you should do that. The people before did it,' or things like that. And I would say, 'Well, you know, I'm not going to do it.'"

But after nearly 10 years, people have fallen in love with the space and the food. 

Submitted by Karim Yazgi

Artistic endeavours line the walls, including statues of Buddha, artichoke hearts figurines, stuffed animals, a painting of Yazgy's dog and notes and drawings from customers and local artisans.

The space even hosts local entertainment on a small stage in the back of the restaurant. 

The restaurant will be celebrating its 10-year anniversary next June — a feat that shocks Yazgy.

"This is my first house, the first time I threw an anchor — it's good to be next to the sea," he said.

"I love what I'm doing, and I'd do it again. But this is the first time that I grew up, and I became an adult."