Chef and co-owner of The Mallard Cottage Todd Perrin came to cooking out of a love for food, but it wasn’t exactly a straight shot to the kitchen. “I don’t want to say I fell into it – I tripped into it,” says Chef Todd.
“I love to eat, and after I got into university and realized school wasn’t the thing that inspired me, I went to cooking school. I wanted to do stuff with my hands, and food was the thing I cottoned on to,” he adds.
It’s been a great trip so far, and the boisterous Newfoundland and Labrador native has become a force to be reckoned with both in and outside of the kitchen.
Since opening the nationally-celebrated Mallard Cottage in Quidi Vidi Village, St. John’s in 2013, the Top Chef Canada All Star has continued to focus on his unique style of cooking and his community.
The Inn by Mallard Cottage, also in Quidi Vidi, opened in 2017, and he’s currently working on a new project, WaterWest Kitchen and Meats, in the old west end of St. John’s.
Chef Todd is also a big supporter of local and national charities, and frequently offers both his culinary skills and voice to back good food campaigns.
He first joined Community Food Centres Canada as supporter through Chefs for Change, a national charitable dinner series that features stellar meals made by some of Canada’s best chefs.
Inspired by this event and others, he has committed to raising awareness about the millions of Canadians that can’t afford healthy food.
“The connection between people and food is very powerful and I think it offers an opportunity to make change. Harnessing that power is something chefs are well-positioned to do: those of us that think about food insecurity issues can use the influence we have to do something we believe in, and make some change for the good.”
In addition to Chefs for Change, Todd also participated in a Chef Policy Bootcamp for Policy and Social Change in 2018. Along with ten other top Canadian tastemakers, the experience deepened his belief that food has the power to change lives. But he also recognizes that many of us take the very thing that sustains us for granted:
“Food is the building block of all of our lives, and it should be cherished,” he emphasizes. “It is the thing that sustains us on this planet, and it has to be looked at that way – it’s not something you ‘do’ in your car on the way to work.”
For low-income Newfoundlanders, Todd adds, accessing fresh fruits and vegetables can be a challenge. A few days of bad fall or winter weather means supermarkets can’t stock fresh food – and even when they can, it’s not always affordable.
The impact of this is most pronounced on some of the most marginalized portions of the population, but Todd notes that even people that can afford fresh fruit and veg are facing food-related health challenges.
Citing the province’s high rates of diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, he says many of us have developed a very unhealthy relationship with food that we urgently need to fix:
“Good food is for everybody, not just for people who can afford it. But people who can afford it, their relationship with food is broken too. And that is the message we need to get across. It’s not only low-income people that have food issues – although they have greater ones, certainly when it comes to accessing healthy food they can afford. Everybody is having food issues in 2019. We need to get on top of it, because it’s having serious impacts on our health and well-being.”
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