When it comes to household names in Halifax, Renee Lavellee is definitely one of them. Owner of The Canteen, located in Dartmouth, NS, Renee has been the spokesperson for a number culinary brands and organizations including Taste of Nova Scotia, Select Nova Scotia, Community Food Centres Canada, Dairy Farmers’ of Canada and more.
During this year’s RC Show Canada, and in honour of Canada 150, we spent some time with Renee and learned a little about what she believes Canadian cooking means to her.
In your own words, what does Canadian cuisine mean to you?
It is seasonal, locally inspired and very personal. We are such a large and diverse country that “Canadian” cuisine could mean so many things. For me? Its what I ate everyday as a kid growing up in Quebec.
What’s your go-to Canadian ingredient? And why?
Coming from Quebec, it would have to be maple syrup. and fiddleheads..my mom always had a bottle on the table at every meal and we feasted on fiddleheads while they were in season. BUT, since I’ve been living on the East Coast for the past 13 years, it would have to be seafood (lobster, snow crab, oysters)
What influences have (locally or globally) impacted your cuisine and the way you cook?
I have had 2 major influences in the past 20+ years that have made me become what I am today. The first ones are Charlie & Jennifer Part of Les Fougeres in Chelsea, Qc. They taught me how to cook using your instincts. To cook seasonally, locally and to have fun while doing it. They made me who I am today. The 2nd is Anthony Walsh of Oliver & Bonaccini. He taught me how to respect my food, respect my co-workers and trust in myself when it came to cooking. He gave me the freedom to experiment and to develop my palate.