Jeremy Charles goes wild in showcasing the charm of Newfoundland cuisine
This interview originally aired on Dec. 7, 2019.
Jeremy Charles is a chef from Newfoundland and Labrador with an eye on redefining the province's food scene and how the rest of the world understands Canadian cuisine.
His work is centred around creating a sense of harmony between people and wild places. His book, Wildness: An Ode to Newfoundland and Labrador, collects recipes and stories about the plentiful bounty provided by his home.
Charles spoke with Shelagh Rogers about writing Wildness.
Fresh from Newfoundland
"I was a young boy when I got interested in cooking. I think it was everything about the smells and what was going on in the kitchen. This included chopping vegetables and spending time with my grandparents, who both cooked.
"I was intrigued and wanted to understand how to do that. I loved working with my hands and my grandmother introduced me to food. My grandmother made a lot of that traditional Newfoundland stuff like pea soup, Jiggs dinner and fish and brewis.
My grandmother made a lot of that traditional Newfoundland stuff like pea soup, Jiggs dinner and fish and brewis.- Jeremy Charles
"Fish and brewis is essentially hard tack, saltfish, onions, fatback pork and obviously fish, which is always around here. Jiggs dinner is a boiled dish with turnips, carrots, cabbage and pease pudding.
"These dishes are so simple and so inspirational. They fed so many people on a limited budget. They really tell the story of Newfoundland and its people who were truly living off the land and eating organically — before the word organic was even cool. "
The wildness of Newfoundland and Labrador
"Newfoundland and Labrador is a unique place. It's so rugged. We're an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and surrounded by so many beautiful things on land and sea.
Wildness is a true celebration of all the wild ingredients: the moose, rabbits, partridges, codfish, sea urchin, crab and lobster. There's also the wild edibles such as berries and chanterelles.
Newfoundland and Labrador is a unique place. It's so rugged. We're an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by so many beautiful things on land and sea.- Jeremy Charles
Jeremy Charles's comments have been edited for length and clarity.