Source: Best Health magazine, September 2015
Canadian cuisine is experiencing a sort of renaissance, garnering international attention for its unique, regionally focused flavours. Leading the charge is Jeremy Charles, who spent a decade training and cooking outside Newfoundland and Labrador and returned to St. John’s after realizing there was an abundance of naturally organic, sustainable, high-quality ingredients that were largely unsung. At his award-winning restaurant, Raymonds, in St. John’s, the chef and co-owner focuses on fading traditional recipes and Newfoundland ingredients, including wild game such as moose, wild hare and even seal. Besides the thoughtful food served, everything else at the waterfront restaurant ‘ homemade sea salt, custom plates made by a potter down the street, and flower arrangements composed of plants harvested from the bogs of Newfoundland ‘ creates a distinct sense of place.
We ask chef Jeremy Charles about his best food experiences, responsible and sustainable seafood and how he is reinterpreting rustic East Coast cuisine to suit the taste buds of a demanding audience.
Best Food Memory
My fondest memory was spending time with my grandparents at our summer home. We’d eat from the garden, land and sea ‘ mostly codfish and snow crab. They were just simple meals that my grandma would prepare, but they really resonated with me. We would have pease pudding (split peas cooked in a bag), stuffed ravioli, and smoked pork hock (or traditionally with salted pork) for Sunday dinner. We kind of transformed that into a pasta dish at the restaurant with smoked pork hock jus, carrot, onion, turnip and stuffed pease pudding agnolotti.
Best No-Fail Dish
I’ve got a few, but I always love having fresh codfish at home. When fish is fresh and beautiful, there’s hardly anything you need to do to it, so I just make a simple stewed codfish with potatoes and onions.
Best Tips on How to Eat Seafood Responsibly
For the average consumer, it’s great to have codfish, but maybe try something off the beaten path. It’s always nice to be a little adventurous and create more of a demand for fish that’s not always on the menu. We have such a wide variety of beautiful seafood out there that needs to be looked at and showcased. For chefs, it comes down to listing other fish options and creating dishes with seafood that may not be as common as others, like whelks, sea urchins and things that don’t show up in the market, or that we might have only seen our grandmothers cook.
Best Kitchen Tool
I can’t live without my sauce spoon. It’s an antique that I picked up here in Newfoundland 10 years ago, and I’ve never seen another one since then. I carry it everywhere I go. It’s the all-around perfect spoon for me ‘ it is shaped like a clover and contains the perfect amount of sauce. I use it for saucing and for basting fish. I have an addiction to antique silver spoons (I’ve got a lot of them), but that one is definitely my favourite.