Kenny Sharpe's In: This is how you pull off 300 seal flipper dinners
The recipe's a mystery, but there’s no secret about the volunteer sweat going into the annual event
From the basement of Wesley United Church in St. John's, the aroma of peppery-cooking seal meat lures guests from Patrick Street.
The annual seal-flipper dinner is underway. Putting flippers in 300 mouths has all been organized, cooked and prepared by a crew of volunteers.
With the dinner stretching over two spring nights, there's a good chance this is the largest serving of prepared seal meat happening, at this time, anywhere in the world.
I watch closely, and tune in to the conversation, as the seal flippers are served up and dished out from the church hall kitchen.
PETA didn't buy any flippers
"I doubt anyone from PETA [People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals] bought a ticket." one of the guests is overheard joking.
"This man wants gravy on his buns," said one of the volunteer waitresses.
"I'll give him gravy on his buns alright," said another woman working the seal flipper assembly line.
While the recipe that keeps 300 mouths coming back year-after-year to to this annual event remains a secret, what isn't secret is how much volunteer time is needed to pull this dinner off, and how the church welcomes the revenue that this event generates.
Funding from flippers vital for Church
Three hundred seal flipper dinners at $20 a plate equals more than $6,000 that will help the Wesley United Church Fall Fair Committee with other events in the months ahead.
While reading this on your laptop or mobile, try and smell the peppery-ness of the cooking seal, or taste the Atlantic ocean soaked, beef-like flavour of the meat, all of which is being prepared and plated from a kitchen that's close on 40°C.
"If you can't handle the heat, then get out of the kitchen," said one of the cooks.
In St. John's, this is what it takes to pull off the ultimate urban seal flipper dinner club.
Kenny Sharpe's In: A new series
This has been the third instalment of Kenny Sharpe's In: a series that aims to take you inside places you don't often see. If you have a place, event or topic that you think Kenny Sharpe should explore you can email him or follow him on Twitter.