Montreal Steak Spice

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The story about a person nicknamed “Shadow” at Schwartz’s in Montreal as the origin of Montreal Steak Seasoning is complete BS.

The real story is simpler than that. So called “Montreal Steak Seasoning” is actually the ground amalgam of spices (and salt) used in seasoning the exterior of Montreal’s famed Smoked Meat briskets, the star of Schwartz’s. Whether McCormack’s or any other brand is an authentic replication of Schwartz’s, this I do not know.

How it came to be used as a steak seasoning I don’t know either, but I saw something very interesting that suggests that it’s association with steak also has its roots at Schwartz’s. Schwartz’s has a charcoal grill, and one of their great menu items is grilled rib steak. I once watched a cook at Schwartz’s take a raw rib steak, apply what appeared to be the same spice combination I was looking at on the edges of the smoked meat in front of me, and coat just the circumference of the rib steak with this seasoning. He didn’t apply any at all to the actual rib eye center.

How this found its way on to the shelves of every North American supermarket marketed as a steak seasoning is not known to me.