Three Weeks. Twelve stops. Over sixteen chefs. Bushels of local suppliers. The Restaurant Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (RANL) and the St. John’s chapter of the Canadian Culinary Federation’s “From This Rock Culinary Tour” is coming to an end tomorrow.
With support from the Forestry and Agrifoods Agency and the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, regional chefs and local farmers are collaborating to highlight issues of Food Security and their local solutions.
This is not a lecture circuit. It is a culinary tour of multi-course dinner events featuring travelling teams of chefs from our best restaurants. These roving bands of feast-makers work with the permanent chefs at each venue they visit, to help build a meal that will showcase the bounty that is available hyper-locally.
In 2011, chefs and farmers from around St John’s held a day’s worth of sessions capped off with a supper. The next year it became a tour with three chefs and six stops. It has been growing and rolling ever since.
The big news this year is that it is now literally a “provincial” event as it has moved beyond just the Newfoundland capital and outports and has added a stop in Labrador. The tour organizers had wanted to include Labrador for years, but the costs involved in transportation, along with the untested market, held them back.
This year the decision was made to add the stop no matter the logistics. Provincial Air Lines (PAL) agreed to sponsor one of the four seats needed to fly the chefs and staff organizer up, and demand was not be an issue as the event scheduled in Happy Valley-Goose Bay was one of the first to sell out.
This is harvest time in Newfoundland and Labrador and the tour is taking advantage of the end of season riches. The menus are not announced ahead of time. The chefs arrive at each town and see what has been brought in from the various participating farms and seafood suppliers, and they set about preparing with whatever that may be.
Judging from the opening night dinner this year, in Port au Basque on October 15th, where the first team of chefs (headed by Roary Macpherson, The Sheraton) were greeted with fresh ingredients from seven area farms, in addition to local suppliers of cod and mussels, they had more than enough to work with.
The grand Finale will be hosted by Jonathan Richler of The Jewish Deli at The Sheraton in St John’s on November 5th. For more information on these events or to buy tickets visit RANL.ca.