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        Gidney Fisheries Nova Scotian Lobster: Supplier Feature

        Gidney Fisheries Nova Scotian Lobster: Supplier Feature

        Firstly, you were established in 1892, can you tell us a little bit about the history of Gidney Fisheries and how you got to where you are today and where you started?


        Samual Gidney, the great grandfather of owner Barry Gidney, began buying lobsters from local fishermen over 125 years ago. The price of lobster at the time was around 11 cents per pound!! He exported live lobster weekly via steamship to Boston, MA. 


        These live lobster transactions gave birth to legacy that has been passed down through the Gidney family for four generations – and now employees a 5th generation in daily operations. 


        Gidney’s has grown from selling live lobster, dogfish, periwinkles, scallops, and more into a company that has seen explosive growth in HPP frozen lobster. 


        Why did you choose to install an HPP machine vs. a traditional cooked lobster packaging facility?


        This was an easy choice for two primary reasons: 1) The HPP machine can deliver a higher quality of innovative lobster products compared to traditionally cooked lobster, and 2) there is a high demand for HPP frozen lobster in the European market, which is due to this higher quality. 


        In what ways does the HPP process make it a higher quality meat?

         
        HPP lobster meat is blast frozen this eliminates the need to use any food additives or preservatives (required by cooked lobster), which keeps the flavor and nutrition intact. Since the lobster is raw frozen, it locks in absolute freshness and allows the end user to prepare the lobster in more creative ways and to their unique specifications.


        Finally, Atlantic lobster meat is firm, meaty, and succulent.The intense water pressure used in high-pressure processing also tenderizes the meat which results in an end product that is more “melt-in-your-mouth” and tender rather than tough or chew.



        Is HPP a more humane way of processing lobster?


        Yes, the HPP process has been identified by certain animal rights groups as being one of only two ways to humanely process a lobster.

         

        We noticed that you have a couple third party audits, BRC and an MSC certification.  What do these mean to the fishery, to your customers, and to the business?


        We first received our MSC Chain of Custody certification in 2017. Being part of an MSC certified supply chain is absolutely essential for many of our clients and stands to show that we’re an integral part of a sustainable lobster fishery. 


        Our BRCGS Food Safety certification has been a key factor in expanding our business into the retail market, as well as helping us to grow as a business internally. 


        Third party certifications are vital to showing you’re a serious player in the market and offer an immediate level of trust to potential clients and to the end consumer. For Gidney Fisheries in particular, these trusted third-party certifications are a confirmation of what we’ve always claimed and known about Gidney lobsters; they’re of the absolute highest quality.



        There has been a lot of news coverage in the lobster industry about the native fisheries.  Do you work with any indigenous groups on procurement of lobster?  How can this gap be bridged (we understand that this is a complex question)?


        Yes, we procure lobster from indigenous fishermen. We can only procure lobster that is caught during DFO regulated lobster seasons.


        There has been a lot of consolidation in the lobster processing industry by publicly traded companies, why is it important to Gidney to be independent and family owned?  


        Gidney Fisheries has been family owned and operated for over 125 years. Owner and CEO, Barry Gidney, is extremely proud of this history and takes pride in supporting his family and community with economic opportunity. 


        What would you like the world to know about Gidney Fisheries?


        Gidney Fisheries is an industry leader in HPP lobster and continues to grow our global footprint through offsite cold storage solutions.We deliver the best Atlantic Canadian lobster in both live and HPP while maintaining a family-oriented business with origins since 1892. 



        Foraging with Renegade Harvest: Supplier Feature

        Foraging with Renegade Harvest: Supplier Feature

        We sat down with Chef Colin Moïse, the founder of Renegade Harvest to discover more about what drives him, as part of our ongoing "Supplier Feature" series.

        Colin, I understand that you were a chef by trade. How did you discover the idea to start Renegade Harvest?

        Renegade Harvest has always been part of my brand. The concept stems from using uncommon means in sourcing ingredients for the recipes. Whether foraged, fished, hunted or grown locally, I harvest these quality ingredients and share their flavours with delicious culinary creations. When the pandemic hit Ontario with lockdown and social restrictions, Renegade Harvest had to discover a new way to share the stories behind his repertoire of ingredients. I wanted to continue sharing this food philosophy and quality ingredients. As such, Renegade Harvest began a line of retail-ready products for the home consumer, such as smoked wild mushroom sausages and wild leek pestos.  

        As demand increased, Renegade Harvest partnered with local culinary talent, ethical farmers and socially responsible distributors to manufacture and deliver  homestead recipes to our loyal Ontario consumers. The vision is to make local food more accessible and diversify our ingredients for a more well-rounded local food diet. 

        You mention on your website that social responsibility is a key part of your mission. What do sustainability and social responsibility mean to the Renegade Harvest business model?  

        Sustainably sourced ingredients are what inspire Renegade Harvest's recipes. There is a level of excitement that's evoked when learning of an ingredient's ethical roots. An adventurous discovery that compels the inner-chef to get cooking. There are plenty of socially responsible growing practices in all food-related industries. Such as the proximity of the harvest, unique farming and growing practices and the relationship which these ingredients have with their surrounding environments. There are many admirable growing and harvesting practices in Ontario and Renegade Harvest looks to discover and share these treasures with the families and friends who support and purchase local food. 

        From speaking to you from the beginning, I understand that foraging for the mushrooms was a part of the Renegade Harvest model. I know this is hard to do at scale, so how do you ensure the quality of all of the ingredients you use?

        Ensuring quality ingredients comes with knowing what quality truly is. I have been surrounded by ethical and quality ingredients for most of my life. Growing up, my relatives actively farmed, hunted or fished for the ingredients we ate as a family. In addition, I have had success in my career as a farm-to-table and nose-to-tail chef. Being acquainted and educated by many farmers, foragers, fishers and hunters thought those years, aided me in identifying and understanding quality ingredients. 

        To this day, I continue to build relationships with local growers, hiking through the woods with commercial foragers or casting fishing lines next to professional anglers. Learning that quality of life feeds into quality ingredients. The Renegade way has always been to harvest the ingredients firsthand. Placing your hands in the dirt and identifying healthy ecosystems is essential in selecting quality ingredients. It can become a very intimate experience. In a nutshell, Renegade Harvest puts in the legwork to ensure quality.

        Starting a small business can be very difficult, can you share some of the hurdles and struggles you've had getting Renegade Harvest off of the ground?

        Going from fine-dining chef to a special foods manufacturer required letting go of some pride. A major obstacle for most chefs. I'm sure we would all agree, there's a small part of ourselves we leave on every plate we prepare. Then, one day I was met with having to make a choice. To either grow Renegade Harvest as a company or shut it down. Without incurring a tone of business overhead. It was time to change my perspective on food manufacturing. It was time for me to put my trust in well-calibrated equipment to replicate my recipes—a nerve-racking situation. The challenges in taking on a project like this required a lot of research, phone calls, long drives and time away from the family. The silver lining to this transition was the relationships I made along the way. Receiving support where I least expect it. 

        Where do you see Renegade Harvest in the next 5 years?

        Renegade Harvest looks to expand its specialty food offerings to diversify the ingredients we store in our freezers and our pantries at home. Renegade Harvest products will be easily accessible to Ontario consumers and become a positive force to our local food economy.

        What else would you like the world to know about Renegade Harvest?

        We see how increasingly difficult it is to secure locally grown groceries in Ontario. It is not easy nor financially viable at times. As a collective, we can influence change in our food system. Renegade Harvest's efforts in sharing its food philosophy have helped shine a light on our local food network gaps. We believe that together, with the help of our local food retailers and distributors, we can add security to Ontario grown food and mend our broken food system. We take a moment to say thank you to all of our Ontario food retailers and food distributors for their hard work in supporting our small Ontario farms and vendors.

        First Fish: A Project Worth Learning About

        First Fish: A Project Worth Learning About

        A Chef's Vault Interview with First Fish

        - Mike Delaney Co-Founder of Chef's Vault, speaks with Mickayla Labbé Director of Sales & Marketing First Fish 

        How did First Fish begin?

        First Fish was founded by Mike Labbé after a trip to Qikitarjuaq, Nunavut in hopes to continue his work on affordable housing when it became apparent that there was a bigger need for jobs to combat the high unemployment rate. Mike and the team met with some dedicated fishermen that strived to grow their fishing business from what started as a clam diving expedition through the ice in the winter with scuba equipment. With the government regulations working against their clam harvesting, they shifted their focus to their successful Arctic Char fishing. Though, due to limited resources, it could only be sold locally and we wanted to change that. What started as a whole fish operation in Qik, quickly led to the involvement of more communities including Pangnirtung, who has been our partner for 2 years and introduced us to Turbot fishing. More recently we have started to work with Rankin Inlet as well where our business has been refined to create more local jobs by processing locally in the communities. Though we are still a new organization we are excited to see the growth that has developed over our first few years and can't wait to continue to grow with the communities.

        Baffin Island

        - Baffin Island Waters

        What reactions do you typically get when talking about Arctic Char and Turbot?  Is the community familiar with these types of fish, or did you have to educate your customers?

        We've had an extremely positive response about the fact our fish is caught by Inuit fishermen in Nunavut though often people aren't very familiar with Arctic Char or Turbot. Arctic Char is more easily grasped and understood due to its similarity to Salmon and it's more occasionally featured in restaurants so it is more well known to customers in Ontario. Turbot on the other hand is more rare to find in Ontario so it requires more education for consumers though it's more well known in the restaurant industry by chefs.  Since Turbot is considered a high end halibut, usually customers are open to giving it a try and then will always be back for more. 

        Baffin Island Turbot

        - Baffin Island Turbot

        Working with fisheries in Baffin Island must come with logistical hurdles, could you talk about what some of your hurdles might be, and how it could be solved in a perfect world?

        We have definitely encountered some hurdles over the years, mainly with transportation and supply chain issues. 

        Recently we have seen the effects of climate change on the fishing season; last winter the fishermen/women couldn't start fishing until 2 months later than planned as the lakes were not frozen over yet.

        In general, issues such as a broken processing machine that could be fixed quickly down south can take weeks or months to repair as parts have to be flown into town.

        With transportation, there is of course always going to be issues with the weather as you can imagine with working with Arctic communities, so flights can be unreliable and infrequent. Often flights can be delayed up to 2 weeks based on the weather, from intense and frequent snow storms to the summer heat that affects the runway capacity.

        Currently we're looking into coordinating bringing a container of fish down by cargo ship to combat some of the uncertainty with transportation.

        We know that Pangnurtung Fisheries who you work with have a very cool story and history of fishing, but we noticed you don’t have any sustainability certifications, can you let us know how you’re sustainable and why?

        Working with small remote artisanal fisheries it is more difficult and costly to get certifications however, we are currently working closely with Oceanwise to make the certifications more widely accessible to these smaller communities.

        All the fishermen/women from Pang, Qik, and Rankin Inlet are using local, traditional methods that have been practiced for thousands of years. The fish is hand caught using only nets and long lines, which eliminates any bycatch and creates minimal disturbance to the environment.

        The fisheries also follow all quotas established by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and community leaders so there is no overfishing and the species remain in abundance.

        Not-For-Profit is a bold statement and claim and not something we see often in corporate Canada.  Could you please explain your corporate mantra?

        First Fish is proud to be a non-profit as we see the Indigenous communities as our partners and would like to work with them to grow.

        Our work is motivated by creating more local employment opportunities, promoting sustainability for future generations and working side-by-side with the Inuit communities to build a vibrant economy and strengthen the social harmony within communities to provide cultural and economic stability and to improve their overall quality of life.

        We could only achieve this using our non-profit model in which all surpluses are reinvested back into the local communities. 

        - Nancy, Moe & William holding Arctic Char & Turbot

        Where do you see this business in 5 years?

        In 5 years, we are hoping to be working with more communities across Nunavut to become a stable platform for the provision of a wide variety of species that can be caught uniquely by different fisheries.

        We would love to see more northern fish on menus across Canada and in nationwide retail stores as our goal is to share the unique stories of the communities to as many people as possible.

        What would you like the world to know about First Fish?

        We are extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to work with the Indigenous communities in Nunavut and share their unique experiences, unmatched fishing skills, and incredible country food.

        Given the quality of our product and the loyalty of our customers we are a demonstration that a business partnership with the northern Indigenous communities can be beneficial to everyone.

        Trust the Source

        Trust the Source

        Trust the Source: 

        Know the real stories behind the food you buy

         

        I'd like to highlight the importance of "trusting the source" when selecting the food that you buy.   With so many producers, suppliers, and retailers honing in on buzzwords and jumping through whatever loopholes are required to be on trend, it's up to the consumers to understand the entire picture and decipher the whole truth about what any food truly is, along with its impact on our buying mindset. 

        Product labels on food in the grocery store often don’t tell anywhere near the whole story about what is involved in producing it. There are many large gray areas which big producers can mold and abuse in order to circumvent government labeling standards, as far as what they are required to tell you about what is in their food.  These convoluted labels may leave the average shopper asking questions:

        • Was this fish farmed or wild caught?  
        • Was this fish previously frozen? Can I refreeze it?  
        • Was this Atlantic salmon farmed on the Pacific ocean, how? why? 
        • What does grass-fed beef actually mean?

        Reading the small print has never been my forte, but has become increasingly more important when approaching food labeling.  However, with twins under 1yrs old, I don’t have the time nor patience to. I would rather spend my dollars and time somewhere, I feel comfortable and confident the homework has been properly done for me.  

        This idea is consistent throughout our mission at Chef’s Vault. All of our food has a simple and obvious backstory that you can trust. We feature our supplier’s stories and make it possible for you to dive into the details during a special evening with guests and speak about where the food came from, who grew it, and what it ate.

        When it comes to grass-fed beef, the details matter. We need to know if this product is grass-fed and finished 100% of the time, or if it was like every other cattle on earth, grass-fed for the first 6 months of its life and then reduced to a confined feedlot for the next miserable 18 months. This is the dark reality of all commodity cattle, unfortunately.

        Mike taking a tour of 8 Acres Regenerative Farm

        The details matter on grass-fed and finished beef, and many processors are greenwashing their product labels to boost their image and social responsibility.  The bastardization of the word grass-fed is eroding its meaning, and taking away from the importance of the regenerative aspect of grass-finished beef.  Grass-finished and regenerative beef is a crucial step to reclaiming the story of meat production which has a net positive impact on C02 emissions and carbon sequestration.  The benefit to the environment and land is significant, and as the word regenerative implies, the soil health is building and rejuvenating. When done right, the cattle actually play a crucial role in creating healthy soil that benefits the entire ecosystem in the surrounding area.  8 Acres has the data, some of their fields sequester over 20 tons of carbon an acre per year!

         

        Another prominent example of trusting the source is that 87 per cent of Canadians are concerned about mislabeled seafood because a study came out saying that 47% of all seafood tested at Canadian retailers are mislabelled. Trusting the source is about knowing as much as possible about the fish you're eating, and understanding that labels like MSC and Ocean Wise hold tremendous importance.  A third party audit ensures things are done properly and sustainably, and that the food you're feeding your family is the food it says it is.

        First Fish Fisherman near Baffin Island  

        I understand that the tide of inflation is rising and the cost of food is hitting all of our wallets.  Going for sustainable or regenerative items isn’t the cheapest route today, but you can trust the source and understand the positive impacts on the environment and society.  Eat better, but eat less; quality over quantity can lead to a massive shift in how we view food. Cozy up to the idea of splitting a 10oz ribeye with someone. Try creating a meal while only eating a 4-5oz of sustainable fish serving per person (try new species of fish!). This concept is a tangible way that can have a huge impact on your health, along with the health of the planet we co-exist on. 

         

        When you can trust the source, you can trust that the products are produced by smaller farmers and fishermen, and people who care about sustainability and regenerative farming.  Knowing where your food comes from matters.  Know the source of your food.  Trust the source and understand what fuels you.

        Cooking Good Food Starts with Good Ingredients

        Cooking Good Food Starts with Good Ingredients

        What is considered “good” food? There are so many options available at the grocery store with different marketing claims. Online there are various fad diets being promoted. Concerning documentaries are streaming on Netflix sharing horrifying food processing information. Where do we turn to for good food when many accessible groceries are filled with added hormones, chemicals, and preservatives? Is there more to “good” food more than just taste?

        If you step away from large corporate grocery stores, good food is easier than you think to locate. In Canada, we have great farmers producing the best food in the world and great people handling it through to your plate. So, we happen to know a thing or two about what is considered “good food.” 😉

        Here are some questions you should be asking when choosing “good” food:

        How was my food grown and handled?

        There are three different ways food can be grown:

        • Commercial: grown under cultivation in tilled plots or in greenhouses.
        • Organic: free of chemical pesticides or grown without conventional fertilizers.
        • Biodynamic: similar to organic foods but biodynamic farms and gardens are planted with thoughtful adaptation to scale, landscape, climate, and culture. The farms are inspired by the biodiversity of natural ecosystems and uniqueness of each landscape. The gardens contribute to plant diversity, amplifying the health and the resilience of the farm.

        Each of these styles of farming can produce dramatically different levels of nutrient quality. The different styles of farming will also let you know what potential pesticides, chemicals, and growing and feeding practices were used.


        What do I know about the company growing the food?

        Is it a large corporate plantation or a Canadian regional farmer? This often determines (but not always) the conditions in how the food is grown. In terms of meat and seafood, does the farm treat the animals humanely? Are they fed a higher quality food throughout their life?


        Where was it grown?

        Each country has different regulations about the quality and care of food. Also, some countries aren’t as strict with the farm and quality of food regulations that are in place. Depending on weather conditions and soil, some foods grow better in certain areas. This can be a factor in quality, freshness, and the way the food was grown (think Okanagan Valley, BC, vs. Baffin Island, NV.)

        When was the last time you shopped for your food locally? Choosing to support Canadian farmers and fishers has an incredible impact on your community and the environment. Not to mention, you’ll be able to taste the difference immediately in the meals you consume!

         

        What makes food considered “good”:

        • ✅ You’re eating food that is better for your body:
          No added hormones or preservatives, grass-fed and finished beef, and Ocean Wise recommended seafood… taste and traceability are guaranteed.

        • ✅ It positively impacts the environment:
          When you shop from regenerative and biodynamic farms, you’re supporting farmers that care about their ecological footprint on Earth. Regenerative farming in short means everything works in a cycle to restore and rehabilitate the ecosystem while sequestering 3 million tons of carbon from the atmosphere. As mentioned earlier, biodynamic farms are an ethical and ecological approach to farming and nutrition.

        • ✅ Supporting Canadian farmers and fishers across the country:
          Frozen meat and seafood doesn’t mean that you're missing out on high quality food. Quite the opposite- for example, frozen seafood is a great way to enjoy sustainably and ethically caught fish. By freezing the seafood, this allows us to capture the pristine quality, preserves the freshness, flavours, vitamins, and we’re able to store the food for longer periods of time. This allows us to support Canadian fisheries and fishers from coast to coast and still reap all the benefits from good food.


        If you’re looking to support local Canadian farmers and fisheries, the connection Chef’s Vault has with its suppliers is a great way to show support and to eat sustainably! Chef’s Vault works directly with its suppliers to provide you with pasture raised meat and wild caught fish that has incomparable taste. Try it for yourself, you deserve to eat not only good food, but the very best that Chef’s Vault has to offer. 😉