Taste our Island - 2009
CHEF SHIRLEEN PEARDON has been cooking for more than 20 years, but she has certainly not forgotten her rural Island roots. Shirleen is head chef at Merchantman Pub, the 2009 winner of PEI ADAPT Council’s “Taste Our Island” Award. The recognition is likely due in no small part to her close connections with the farm community.
Shirleen’s “Nanny” was a key character in the Peardon household. A traditional, powerful farm woman, Nanny kept a garden plus chickens and the necessary products to feed the extended family and farm workers every day, and who knows who else for Sunday evening dinner. “I can remember many summer mornings when Nanny would get me out of bed saying it was ‘time to come pick beans’!” says Shirleen. She often spent time at Nanny’s elbow learning the art of
Local producers like the Balderstons
deliver fresh goodness to their door.pickling and other traditional dishes; then she supplemented her hands-on training with a degree from Holland College’s Culinary Institute of Canada in Charlottetown. She has been in the Merchantman kitchen for five years and in 2008 Shirleen and Pub owner Peter Hyndman fulfilled their goal of creating a menu that is made up of 100 percent local foods. Sourcing lobster, haddock, halibut and salmon from Mickey Rose, the freshest of vegetables from the Balderston family farm in Stratford, or the ribs and lamb shanks from Drake’s means that delivery days are personal encounters; a world away from simply submitting an order to the wholesalers. While both Shirleen and Peter admit that placing just one order with one provider would be a whole lot simpler, they are firmly committed to the Island menu now and it is obvious they enjoy personal friendships with the folks who provide their eggs, meat, fish and vegetables.
The competition for the Taste Our Island Award was tight this year, with more than 100 nominations representing 18 different PEI restaurants. See www.peiadapt.com. Here’s a sample of what appeared on the award-winning menu: PEI Colville Bay Oysters, North Shore Halibut, Island Striploin, Seared Sea Scallops, and of course PEI Blue Mussels. Now in its 15th year in a convenient location near the Charlottetown waterfront, the Merchantman Pub has just expanded with a new tapas-type bar and a lunch counter making up 110 seats in total. The Pub is open year round, closed Sundays. See www.merchantmanpub.com.