Blunt Inquiry Asks... Chef Jeremy Charles
What is your idea of the perfect restaurant?
I think it exists already at Eigensen Farm with Chef Michael Statlander. You’re cooking off your own land, with your own animals in your dining room for a small group of people. It’s my idea of the perfect restaurant.
What is your greatest fear at work?
Allergies. It’s always a chief concern in the kitchen and it seems now they are becoming ever increasing so it's something we take very seriously.
Which working Chef do you most admire?
Paul Kahn in Chicago. He is now running a small empire of amazing restaurants and bars that all maintain amazing quality and success and he is still as humble as he was before it all. Just a great guy and a pleasure to be around.
What part of work “you” do you most deplore in yourself?
Saying no to donations and charities. There is only so much you can do and give, but it’s still hard to not be able to do more.
What would instantly make you fire someone?
Stealing. Poor attitudes are not welcome either. There’s nothing that can suck the life out of you and your crew quicker than a poor attitude.
What was your most extravagant purchase for your restaurant?
A Mercedes Sprinter van. It’s a 4-wheel drive beast that we use for deliveries and catering. It also becomes a staff moving van on days off….
What is your favorite food journey?
Spring in Old Perlican, crab boil by the fire with my grandmother. Perfect.
What words or phrases do you most overuse at work?
BK (best kind), Fire it up, lights out.
What do you regret most after all of these years in the business?
I have none, I have been very fortunate to be where I am and to love what I do.
What do you love most about this industry?
I think the camaraderie amongst the people in the industry, after 20 years and lots of travel it always great to be welcomed into someone’s kitchen and share a few laughs. I also really enjoy meeting young cooks and seeing them progress over the years.
What is your current state of mind?
I must admit it’s been a challenging year, a new restaurant, balancing work and family life, there’s always peaks and valleys. I’ve made a commitment to myself to make more time for myself and my family over the next year.
If you could change anything about the restaurant industry where you are, what would it be?
There has been a recent influx of chains and bigger brands into St. John’s . They serve their purpose, but I can’t help but feel a little bit of our food culture dies with every new location.
What do you consider your most essential ingredient?
There’s 2, Wild game and Cod.
The work/life balance struggle is real. How good of a juggler are you? Tips?
I find myself reflecting on how good a father/husband I am. It’s been a challenging road but I have been making more time for my family. I’ve gotten much better at being there for them. Life is too short to compromise on that. Tips? Learn to say no, I’m doing much better at it.
What is your most treasured kitchen tool?
An old spoon from the Newfoundland railway. It always seems to hold the perfect amount of sauce.
What do you regard as the lowest depths of misery?
Paperwork and emails.
When you finally retire, where will you live?
In a small cabin, on the side of a salmon river, with a big window and a dart board.
What is your most marked characteristic?
Quiet and easygoing.
What is the quality you most like in a chef?
Humble, understanding and great attention to detail.
What is your greatest inspiration/ motivation?
Besides my family, who are the reason I get up every morning, I get inspired from the people I work with, walks in the woods, and the beautiful ingredients around this island.
Superman or Spiderman?
Popeye, I hate to fly and do not enjoy heights.
What is the first thing you remember cooking?
Spaghetti and meatballs for my then girlfriend, now wife Sarah
You have to cook Escoffier’s death row meal. Menu?
My Nan’s bread, pea soup, lemon meringue pie and a cup of Tetley tea (orange pekoe) with a spot of Carnation milk (condensed milk).
Favourite kitchen word or phrase?
“All in!” or “Knows you don’t love it eh?!”
Enjoyed this post? Check out the other Blunt Inquiry editions - featuring some of your favourite Canadian Chefs!