Cod fish, coffee shops and keeping it local

St. John’s businesses are giving local food and beverages their just desserts.

Mark Chafe

The people of Newfoundland have always possessed great pride in their work. Now, more than ever, local business owners are making a focused effort to showcase local produce.

Raymond’s is a restaurant in downtown St. John’s where everything, from the food to the plates it’s served on, is sourced locally. They have been a leader in the emergence of Newfoundland ingredients in restaurant menus.

Jeremy Charles is the owner of Raymond’s and The Merchant Tavern. He gets all of his ingredients from local farmers, foragers and hunters. Using relationships he has built over his 10 years in the Newfoundland food industry, he is able to create the best possible local cuisine for his customers.

Steve Parsons, a cook at The Merchant Tavern, prepares a cod fish caught off the coast of Newfoundland. Mark Chafe/ Kicker

“Our big focus is basically celebrating Newfoundland products from the land and sea,” he said. “It creates a sense of place.”

Any restaurant owner or operator can look at an order sheet from a large delivery company and get everything they need. That’s easy.

“It’s another thing to form relationships with people who are out jumping in the ocean for you,” Charles said. “And, you know, being part of it all. It takes a lot of trust for people to know you’re investing in them, and that they can depend on you.”

It’s not only the restaurant scene here in Newfoundland that focuses on keeping their businesses as local as possible. Jumping Bean, a coffee company based in St. John’s, does everything it can to keep it local.

Since Canada is not an optimal climate for growing coffee beans, they have to order them from places as far away as Africa, Oceania and South America. The beans, though, are the only part of their coffee that doesn’t have Newfoundland all over it.

“Why are you coming to Newfoundland if you’re not going to have a piece of cod fish, or berries picked from the garden?”

“The beans are grown away but everything is manufactured, processed, bagged and labelled here in the province,” said George Murray, marketing manager at Jumping Bean. “The blending and recipes are 100 per cent local and made to appeal to tastes here in Newfoundland.”

Local businesses are also making an effort to be more environmentally friendly. Jumping Bean uses a process called Eco Roast, a zero-waste process that reduces carbon emissions by 85 per cent. Charles also composts all leftover food scraps at his restaurants; he uses the compost as feed at his own pig farm.

Local sourcing also impacts the provincial economy by supporting local workers and producers. It’s also good for the tourism industry.

“Tourism is big for us. People are coming to try the local food and have an experience, not a piece of Alberta beef,” said Charles. “Why are you coming to Newfoundland if you’re not going to have a piece of cod fish, or berries picked from the garden?”