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.”