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What’s cooking in 2015?

Clockwise from left: Mary Nkrumah (Photo Credit: Steve Farmer Photography); Cornel Ceapa (Photo Credit: Acadian Sturgeon); Pearleen Mofford (Photo Credit: Facebook); Joel Aubie (Photo Credit: Jobie's Mobile Kitchen)

Clockwise from left: Mary Nkrumah (Photo Credit: Steve Farmer Photography); Cornel Ceapa (Photo Credit: Acadian Sturgeon); Pearleen Mofford (Photo Credit: Facebook); Joel Aubie (Photo Credit: Jobie’s Mobile Kitchen)

New Year’s resolutions aren’t for everyone.

But for culinary leaders and professionals across the Maritimes, stock-taking, goal setting and business planning aren’t just the hallmarks of personal preference, they’re a matter of success.

In that vein, Rustik was curious to know what makes these folks tick, and also dig a little to see if they could impart some wisdom and share ideas of what they see in store for 2015.

Mary Nkrumah, a popular vendor at the Halifax Seaport Farmers Market, wants to “keep on travelling down the road of full flavour, rather than abandon taste for a trend.”

The owner and chef of Mary’s African Cuisine says she hopes to get people to try out new flavours, like smoked mackerel (“which we have a special way of dry smoking”) and lobster with riz sauce, a peanut-based drizzle popular in West Africa. “We have some people growing peanuts locally in the [Annapolis] Valley,” Nkrumah says, “and I want to work them in.”

Her main resolution is simple, she says: “Make more fresh plantain chips – I can’t keep them in stock!” She suspects this will be an excellent way to expand her market and get customers to try out some of her other adventurous dishes.

Cornel Ceapa’s ambitions involve getting more people to discover this part of Canada and all it has to offer. His aquaculture venture – Acadian Sturgeon and Caviar, based in Carters Point, New Brunswick – sells caviar and sturgeon stock all over the world. But as much as he loves selling to his international clientele, he believes in the potential of the Maritimes to attract those clients here, and wants to work towards developing a Maritime culinary tourism circuit. “We have amazing local products (including our caviar and other sturgeon products) and really good restaurants. We should use those to attract tourists from across the world!”

If Ceapa’s vision comes true, tourists could find their way to local establishments like Jobie’s Mobile Kitchen, in Bathurst, New Brunswick. Chef Joel Aubie says his plans for 2015 are to “keep it real.” Aubie’s philosophy of “real food for real people” involves food prepared by “people not machines. People who use whole ingredients, people who pour love into the blend.”

To showcase New Brunswick’s rich hunting and fishing culture, Aubie would like to see regulations expand this year so wild foods like sea bass, deer and moose can be incorporated into restaurant menus.

Eating local food cooked from scratch is also on the top of Pearleen Moffard’s to-do list for 2015. But exploration is the main resolution for the coordinator of Cape Breton’s annual Right Some Good food festival. Moffard will be making syrups from local seasonal fruits (think pears, apples, strawberries). Armed with the syrups and her new carbonator, she’ll also be pouring energies into experimenting with a little mixology.

Inspired by chefs from around the world whom she has met through Right Some Good, Moffard will be exploring foreign flavours later in the fall during a gastronomic tour of Peru and Argentina.

If these resolutions are any indication, 2015 could shape up to be an exciting culinary year for our region. Local culinary professionals have committed to sourcing fresh, local products, using them in new and inventive ways and promoting the results in their own communities and beyond. That’s a resolution we can all get behind!

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