Is Montreal Steak Seasoning Really From Montreal?

Poutine and smoked meats may be the first to come to mind when thinking of foods eaten in Montreal. But it's a certain season added to smoked meat that makes it distinctively a product of the largest city in Quebec: Montreal Steak Seasoning.

Quebec is a Canadian province where the influences of France are still apparent in day-to-day life. The chefs have added their own influences to the cuisine of Quebec with flavorful smoked meats being a highlight. What is often rubbed on those smoked meats? It's called Montreal Steak Seasoning. The blend was first made popular in the United States by McCormick and is now sold under its Grill Mates label. McCormick uses garlic, paprika and ground pepper and suggests using it on steaks, burgers and pork. The Spruce Eats describes Montreal Steak Seasoning as having flavor and heat but without floral herbs that many other blends contain.

Montreal Steak Seasoning is more than just a rub for meat. Culinary Hill describes using it as a marinade for steak, chicken, or pork by combining it with olive oil and soy sauce. The recipe for the blend, which also goes by the names Montreal steak spice or Canadian steak seasoning, is made with paprika, coriander and mustard seeds, dried onion and garlic, salt, and some heat (per CBC News). 

Is the seasoning blend from Montreal?

So, did the Montreal Steak Seasoning originate in the Canadian city? Absolutely!

While it was invented in Montreal, Culinary Hill states that the blend was influenced by the pickling spices of Eastern European used in Jewish cuisine. It was about 70 years ago that Montreal Steak Seasoning first began to be used on steak, according to the CBC. Since then, it has been adopted by cooks all around the world. 

CBC recounts that the seasoning blend was first made popular by a cook who worked at Montreal's Schwartz's smoked meat restaurant named Morris "The Shadow" Sherman. Once customers began to regularly request that the blend be added to their steaks, Sherman began selling small packets of the seasoning to be used at home. In 2019, the restaurant reported selling Montreal steak spice at a much larger rate each week of 100 cases that contained 12 bottles each, as well as sales to grocery stores and specialty shops (via the CBC).

After the popularity of using Montreal Steak Seasoning on steaks and ribs took off, according to The Spruce Eats, it began to be utilized in delis and steakhouses around the city. Once McCormick started to also create and market the blend, its popularity really grew. Next time you prepare meat for dinner, take inspiration from the French Canadians and sprinkle or rub some Montreal Steak Seasoning on it.