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Trying Times in Foodservice Call For Creative, Local, Solutions — And a Lot of Lobster Doesn’t Hurt

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The PEI Lobster Roll Call has kicked off for a second year. As an ocean steward and Chef Ambassador for the Marine Stewardship Council, I have the honour and privilege to chat and engage with each participating location as well as Lobster PEI and the fishers on Prince Edward Island working the late summer season.

By collaborating with fishers, engaging direct sales, as well as some phone chats and support from the Lobster PEI family, we’ve been able to bring this fantastic event back for another season. For lack of any better words, it has been an exceptionally tough few seasons for the hospitality industry and everyone involved in every step of our food chain supply. The timing couldn’t be better.

Redefining Local in the Pandemic Era

What “local” means to me has broadened so much since COVID entered our lives. It used to mean I would spend a generous amount of time and energy (with joy!) engaging local producers, some only a few kilometres away from downtown Toronto. I would reach out to the local fishers capturing freshwater smelts and lake fish for a fish fry Friday. I would dive deep into a bottle of pinot from the Niagara region. 

Yet today, local feels very different to me. During the lockdown, we focused on relationships and personal goals and all that good stuff that helps you find clarity in your day-to-day life.

Critical takeaways for myself this past one and a half years are:

  • Whenever possible, go straight to the source.
  • Support Local daily — and local means not only what grows in and around your location, but also local to the regions we live in. 

It feels like the fishers, the farmers, the growers, the artisans, the creators, and the dreamers are coming closer together, and geographical location is less of a challenge. I am a true advocate of responsible living and cutting down our emissions, and I pay attention and act on ways I can best contribute to our climate economy. In some cases, the simple transaction of goods and services shared across borders (they don’t have to be big borders, either) is becoming more like an integral opportunity to exchange and trade resources.

The Right Ingredients and the Right Attitude Can Make A Big Difference

Lobster is and has been for many years, a commodity. Now, it’s becoming one of the most valuable wild seafood species on the market. And, thanks to the hard work of our fishers, marketers, and distributors, Canadians are discovering that PEI lobster is a premium quality product we can all be proud to serve and to eat, making it highly sought after across the country.

This is one of the many reasons I am so inspired by my fellow food and beverage business owners and operators and this incredible event.

These humans, working diligently and effectively to pivot and get creative to save their livelihoods, have suffered HUGE losses. Now, when we’re closer than ever to a return to normal, there isn’t enough staff available for many reasons. And yet, they have come up with a way to excite consumers about getting out and supporting restaurants — sharing the most amazing and delicious ingredient that we love. That’s what The PEI Lobster Roll Call is all about.

It’s accessible, it’s delicious, and it helps small business operators (who don’t all have patios to fall back on) as they engage in a month-long marketing campaign, one that has proven from our first year to put butts on benches, booths, and seats. So, go enjoy that seasonal, wild, and responsibly sourced Prince Edward Island lobster and help #savehospitality. And while you’re at it, think about how diversifying your culinary choices and supporting #local could make a difference to your operation. 

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Charlotte Langley is a noted Canadian chef, founder of Scout Canning, Ambassador Chef for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), and promotional partner of Lobster PEI. A native of Prince Edward Island, Chef Charlotte is famed for her ‘Maritime Chic’ culinary approach and has worked at some of the country’s finest restaurants. Discover PEI’s historic, sustainable MSC-certified lobster fishery. You can learn more about Chef Charlotte here.

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