Fine dining on flipper — for a cause

James McLeod
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St. John’s chefs take on seal meat for fundraiser

Local chefs Jeremy Charles (left) and Todd Perrin hold fresh-from-The-Front seal flippers at Quidi Vidi Gut Wednesday morning. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

Professional chefs Todd Perrin and Jeremy Charles laughed at the question: is there any way to make seal flipper taste good?

“Well, we think so,” Perrin said, and he should know. As a former contestant on Top Chef Canada, he used seal meat in the competition.

On April 26, Perrin, Charles and some of Newfoundland’s top chefs will prepare a dinner of seal meat dishes to raise funds for the Home from the Sea campaign.

Charles, the chef at Raymonds, said seal meat can be challenging to work with.

“It can be an aggressive flavour, you know?” he said. “I think it’s a fun challenge to show people and educate people that seal is a beautiful thing and we should be enjoying it — not just flipper pie and dishes that people have had over the years.”

Next Thursday, there won’t be flipper pie on the menu. Instead, they’ll start with a seal loin and pork terrine, followed by a smoked seal carpaccio. The main course will be seal flipper and veal cheek ravioli, and seal flipper and root vegetable stew.

“Dessert, which was the big challenge, we think we’ve come up with something that’s interesting and palatable at the same time,” Perrin said.

They’ll have seal oil ice cream.

In addition to Perrin and Charles, Roary MacPherson from the Sheraton Hotel and Michelle LeBlanc and Shaun Hussey from Chinched Bistro will help cook up the scoff.


Money raised will help fund memorial, interperetation centre

Perrin said that the seal dinner is an idea that some of the St. John’s chefs have been talking about for a while, to lend a bit of cachet to the misunderstood meat.

“Newfoundland doesn't have a more local or more sustainable protein than seal meat,” Perrin said. “We’ve been chatting about it for ages, but this year we said, you know what? This is the year we’re going to put it together.”

The Home from the Sea campaign embraced the idea with open arms. They’re hoping the $250-a-plate dinner will help raise money for a sealers’ memorial and interpretation centre in Elliston, on the Bonavista Peninsula.

“This was an idea from the chefs themselves — they approached us,” said Leo Power, campaign co-chair for the Home from the Sea campaign. “We were delighted that they would take it on and help raise the visibility of our campaign, and help highlight the fact that seal meat can be a delicious and edible product.”

They are hoping to raise a total of $2.5 million for the project by the end of this year. They’ve already brought in $1.6 million.

Perrin said he’s not sure how much event — to be held at the Quidi Vidi brewery — will bring in.

“It’s a bit of a moving target. Our event is pretty modest in terms of fundraising. It’s a small venue so we only have 70-75 seats available,” he said. “Our big focus, really, was the PR and raising the profile of the seal industry.”

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: Sheraton Hotel

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Elliston

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Recent comments

  • Brenda Armour
    April 19, 2012 - 15:48

    I think I'm going to throw up.

    • Seallover
      April 22, 2012 - 09:47

      Armour, got nothing more interesting to say than that, say nothing

  • Duggan
    April 19, 2012 - 11:00

    Chef Charles is correct, the challenge will be the strong flavour of seal meat (I find it unpleasant) but in the hands of masters such as Charles, Perrin, Macpherseon, LeBlanc and Hussey - expect to be amazed!

  • Seallover
    April 19, 2012 - 08:59

    Don't complain about the price people, embrace the event! I think this is long overdue and we should be supporting this is any way possible. Sure, I myself, may not have the funds to attend this milestone event but, I will spread the word however I can. I'm pretty confident that Perrin, Charles, Hussey, LeBlanc and MacPherson will be able to drawn 70-75 people for such a great cause. I salute the Chefs and organizers of this event whole heartily! Not to mention, I got a few new ideas for cooking seal.

  • Melissa
    April 19, 2012 - 08:57

    Damn, if only my student budget could afford. This is a brilliant plan, and I wish I could go :)

  • Charlie
    April 19, 2012 - 08:50

    Amazing Idea. This is a fantastic way to support sealers of today and yesteryear!! I'm guessing the ticket price is to ensure a good donation to the charity and not to put it out of anyones reach. Great job chefs - you're doing us Newfoundlanders and Labradorians proud. 'BWJ', why not keep this about the food and charity - no need to single out one person who is just trying to raise the profile of our seal fishery.

  • BWJ
    April 19, 2012 - 08:33

    $250 a plate in st. john's to build a memorial in ellliston. sealing was very active in st. john's. the price puts this meal out of reach of the seniors that remember the sealing times and are fond of seal meat. are we supposed to jump at the tickets because of an appearance on a television show, i think not. if this price is any indication of cost of meals in the proposed restaurant in the mallard cottage, good luck tv star

    • Robert
      April 19, 2012 - 10:23

      BWJ! This type of event is exactly what is needed for the sealing industry. In TO, Mtl and Vancouver $250. won't get you a decent bottle of wine. The "tv stars" are the very ones who need to be showcasing seal as a delicacy; make it fashionable to eat seal and all their friends will want seal too! And what our dear`seniors remember is eating seal the only way they knew and that was just fine as well!

  • Mike
    April 19, 2012 - 08:19

    Sounds fantastic but at $250 a plate it's a little out of my league. I guess I'll stick with the Flipper Pie at Bidgoods.

  • Penney
    April 19, 2012 - 07:54

    This idea is way way way overdue. Of course, what St. John's and the province need is a seafood festival showcasing the wonderful seafood we harvest here in the province and encouraging a fuller more sophisticated consumer culture to follow it. Seal meat should be a part of it - people complain about it but they really don't understand how to prepare it and we seem to rely on variations of a single dish. We should be consuming a heck of a lot more of our local produce, especially very overlooked seal meat. Journalists, politicians, businesspeople, swilers - are you listening?

  • Robert
    April 19, 2012 - 07:33

    Where there is a will there is a way!