Back in the spring, S. Pellegrino invited some of Canada’s top chefs and C100B Editor in Chief Jacob Richler to film an episode of its ongoing Round Table series of short videos.
The venue was Patrick Kriss’s fine dining hotspot Alo, in Toronto’s Queen West. And to join chef Kriss at the Round Table, Lee Cooper of L’Abattoir flew in from Vancouver, along with B.C.-raised Derek Dammann of Maison Publique in Montreal and Jeremy Charles, from Raymonds in St. John’s. Before filming commenced at Alo, we convened for lunch nearby at Momofuku Daisho, where discussion centred on how dining out is evolving differently all across the country.
Lee Cooper: Vancouver’s all about Asian in influences. Asian is my favourite thing to eat when I go out because I don’t know how to cook it.
Jeremy Charles: In Newfoundland we’ve become a lot more comfortable with what’s around us. Before, if it wasn’t from outside the province—like foie gras and caviar— it wasn’t fine dining. Now, instead, we’re learning about seaweed—it’s wild, it’s organic, it’s nothing but good for you. And it’s also a great fertilizer.
Derek Dammann: Yup, that’s the first thing that tells me I’m back home in B.C.—the smell of rotting seaweed on the beach!
From seaweed—an increasingly hot menu item not just in Newfoundland but in New York City—the conversation progressed to the serving of wild game in restaurants. Its legality in Newfoundland is the envy of chefs coast to coast, and a cornerstone of Newfoundland’s new culinary identity, forged in large part by Charles.
JC: I’m always worried they’re going to take it away. Losing that would be…it wouldn’t be good.
Dammann lamented that the trial legalization of wild game in Quebec proposed by the last PQ government was dropped by the Liberal government that followed before it got off the ground.
DD: There’s a way of doing it properly. Instead, a third of what’s shot in Quebec goes in the garbage. It’s a shame.
Next the conversation turned to Instagram. And it was swiftly revealed that chefs look at it a little di differently from their customers. Not to boast where they’ve been, but to flaunt their brand and to track who’s copying whom.
LC: By the time you get copied, it’s time to move on…
DD: Some of the restaurants that post a lot—I just can’t believe what they put out there. I look and I think, “That’s you’re A game, is it? Your, um, going with that?”
And with that lunch was done. And it was time to move on to the official round table at Alo.
See the video at finedininglovers.com.