Aspiring to do more with what we have

Pulling over his vehicle on a Cape Breton roadside to take my phone call, Chef Ardon Mofford is in the homestretch of sourcing the local Nova Scotia products that will be diced, seared, pureed, and certainly transformed by visiting Michelin-star chefs starting in one week (August 25) for the Right Some Good culinary event.

The event has multiple locales throughout Cape Breton Island during the next few weeks. Ingredients going into the menus are just as rooted, coming from farms across the island.

“I’m sourcing all vegetable products from local farmers as well as lamb, duck, foie gras, caviar. I’m still sourcing protein right now,” Ardon says.

Chef Ardon had just recently driven through Iona and popped in to see a couple of farms. Going to farmers’ markets, driving around the island to meet new people, and finding out first-hand what’s in season is what he’s been doing since January 2011 for the Right Some Good menus.

“What stands out is just how many farmers are on the island committed to growing product. I’ve been a chef for so long and we don’t really appreciate what they are doing until you go out and visit the farms and get the farm-to-table feel.”
– Chef Ardon Mofford.

As a chef in the second-generation, family owned Governor’s Pub and Eatery in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Ardon is also drawing on his existing, deep connections, especially to source dockside-fresh fish from Louisbourg Seafoods.  And speaking of family and deep connections, Ardon’s sister, Pearleen Mofford, is the founder of the Right Some Good event on Cape Breton Island.

Pearleen tells me she remembers as a child watching her father, as a chef, fillet and portion halibut the size of a tabletop. “He spent three hours cutting it down to pieces, and he used to share with his line cooks how to do that as well,” she says.

“That’s why we are doing Right Some Good – it is about sharing, and collaborating, and learning from each other.”
– Pearleen Mofford.

In this day and age where fish is often pre-filleted, skills like this still need to be shared today to pass along generations of knowledge and technique, which is part of the behind-the-scenes benefit of Right Some Good. 

Teaming up with the ten visiting Michelin-star chefs  are local Cape Breton chefs and junior chefs (enrolled or recently graduated) from culinary programs across Canada.
“Just to work with every one of those chefs is just going to be amazing for me,” says Chef Ardon. “I’d have to travel to ten different countries to experience this, so as a chef it’s amazing and a wonderful opportunity for all of us.”

And what local menu item, soon to be in the hands of a visiting Michelin-star master and team of inspired Canadians, has piqued particular pondering and culinary curiosity…

Pearleen? — “Nobody locally prepares the sea cucumber. I’m really looking forward to seeing it prepared and tasting it.”

Ardon? —  “The sea cucumber is very unique to me. It’s about the size of a cucumber and the yield is about a tablespoon of meat.  I can’t wait to work with it because it is a product we have in Cape Breton, but I’ve never seen what chefs do with it.”

I completely agree! Check out sea cucumbers, and then the menu of Chef Alvin Leung of Hong Kong who will use them while in Judique, Cape Breton.

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