stats Making the Business of Life Easier

   Finance globeinvestor   Careers globecareers.workopolis Subscribe to The Globe
The Globe and Mail /
Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels


  This site         Tips

  The Web Google


  Where to Find It

Breaking News
  Home Page

  Report on Business



Subscribe to The Globe

Shop at our Globe Store

Print Edition
  Front Page

  Report on Business




  Arts & Entertainment



   Headline Index

 Other Sections

  Births & Deaths






  Facts & Arguments




  Real Estate









  Food & Dining




  Online Personals

  TV Listings/News

 Specials & Series
  All Reports...


   Where to Find It
 A quick guide to what's available on the site



  Customer Service

  Help & Contact Us



 Web Site

  E-Mail Newsletters

  Free Headlines

  Globe Store New

  Help & Contact Us

  Make Us Home

  Mobile New

  Press Room

  Privacy Policy

  Terms & Conditions


New Brunswick chefs come home for dinner
The Maritime province may suffer from the highest interprovincial emigration in the country, but a small, passionate group of chefs is returning to invigorate its food scene and liven up their local communities
Special to The Globe and Mail

Email this article Print this article
Friday, August 10, 2018 – Page A9

They had been bandying about heading home to New Brunswick for years, and a magazine article on the grim future of the Maritime province was the final straw for Jennie Wilson and Peter Tomkins, who at the time had been the long-term chef of midtown Toronto restaurants Quince Bistro and Noorden.

"It was kind of a kick in the gut," said Ms. Wilson, who grew up in the small town of St. Stephen, N.B.

"We started just seeing ourselves as part of that problem. If we all leave here, gain skill, gain wealth and do not put it back here, what will happen?" New Brunswick suffers the highest interprovincial outmigration in the country. It also faces a historically low birth rate and is expected to have the worst economic growth of any province this year.

Despite this, Ms. Wilson, 44, and Mr. Tomkins, 48, packed up for the economically beleaguered province a year ago. They headed to the staid capital city of Fredericton, where they had first met in university and where no one had yet heard of an artisanal ice-cream cocktail.

They opened 11th Mile, a restaurant focused on shareable plates, craft cocktails and local ingredients. The menu - American modern, with Japanese and Korean influences - was cultivated through Mr. Tomkins's experiences working with chef Hans Vogels from Momofuku Noodle Bar in Toronto.

"I thought we'd be busier out of the gates than we were, but there was kind of no demand. There's no dining-out culture here," Ms. Wilson said. "We're actually creating a culture of people going out again."

Nine months after first opening, the couple are at the forefront of food revolution that's been slowly simmering over the past three years throughout New Brunswick. In the capital, Saint John and Moncton, chef restaurateurs have been setting the scene to revamp the notorious "drive-through" province into a foodie destination.

One of them is Jakob Lutz, whose vision to create a distinctly New Brunswick cuisine in the blue-collar port city of Saint John has earned him some serious culinary street cred.

Three years ago, he transformed a boarded up storefront down an unlit alley into Port City Royal, a restaurant and bar with locally sourced ingredients.

He calls it his "love letter to New Brunswick." The spot landed No. 2 on enRoute magazine's list of Canada's best new restaurants in 2015. Now, the formerly dark alley is afoot with pedestrians and string lights, and six other businesses have since moved in, four of which are food- and drink-oriented.

Still, he says, uptake among locals has been slow.

"Any restaurants that are successful are typically pubs or ethnic cuisine. That's what's popular, and if I were to cater a restaurant to the city, I would probably do that, but then it wouldn't be a love letter. It would be a bunch of lies to get people to like me," Mr. Lutz, 36, said. The chef previously worked at Atelier in Ottawa and Algonquin Park's Bartlett Lodge, before moving back to New Brunswick, where he grew up, in October, 2012. "We've been able to swallow our pride for the most part up until this point and put burger and fries on there."

Moncton, too, is landing on the East Coast culinary map, with side-by-side restaurants that share a passion for cooking from scratch with fresh ingredients from local farmers.

Chef Camille Pluymackers, 32, first arrived in Moncton six years ago from her native Belgium, with her Moncton-born husband, André Léger. She was excited to test the food scene but found it disappointing.

"It's a city where there is a lot of restaurants, but the majority were fast food or industrial food, or the menu had been the same for the last 10 years, so I was feeling that it was a city that was not really excited by food or looking for creativity on the plate or new ingredients," Ms. Pluymackers said.

She and Mr. Léger opened Manuka inside a sunflower-yellow shingled home in Moncton three years ago. The restaurant serves up gourmet dishes with unexpected twists using fresh ingredients and intricate French pastries.

"It was challenging, but also important because I realized that it was not something we could find easily in the area," she said.

Now, Manuka has a full roster of regulars and is a destination for discerning foodies: In 2017, Lonely Planet for North America named it the top choice for where to eat in Moncton.

Across the street, Michel Savoie is also pushing the limits of Moncton's food scene with fresh takes on traditional dishes made from local ingredients.

He opened his upmarket francophone bistro, Les Brumes du Coude, after living and working as a chef in Europe and Montreal.

"It hasn't been easy to convince people to get through the door," said Mr. Savoie, who is originally from the tiny village of Tabusintac on the Acadian Peninsula. "We have to convince the fish, once you've got him on the line, that the best place in the world is in the scow of the boat. So it's the same thing here: This is a hamburger town and the challenge is that you've got to get them in and once they're done, their faces have completely changed."

In Fredericton, where people are still warming their palates to the fares of 11th Mile, Ms. Wilson and Mr. Tomkins are hoping to create more opportunities for New Brunswickers. They lend their restaurant space to one of their kitchen staffers to sell his knife-sharpening services on some Sundays during brunch and have hosted pop-ups for another kitchen worker to flex his culinary skills.

The kitchen staff are also tipped out 30 per cent - something virtually unheard of in the restaurant industry.

"If we opened something in Toronto, we're just another restaurant, no matter how good it is.

There's enough restaurants. There's enough opportunity for chefs," Mr. Tomkins said. "Here, there isn't and it gives people a chance."

Associated Graphic

Top: Camille Pluymackers makes crème brûlée next to her four-month-old baby, Melika, at Moncton's Manuka, which Ms. Pluymackers co-owns with her husband. Middle: Jennie Wilson and Peter Tomkins are seen in 11th Mile, which they opened nine months ago in Fredericton. Above: The beef tenderloin carpaccio is just one of the dishes on Ms. Wilson and Mr. Tomkins's American modern, Japanese- and Korean-influenced menu.


Chef Michel Savoie, owner of Moncton's Les Brumes du Coude, shells peas during lunch service at the restaurant.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018


A Friday news feature on New Brunswick chefs included an incorrect spelling of 11th Mile restaurant's chef. He is Peter Tompkins, not Tomkins as published.

Huh? How did I get here?
Return to Main Paul_Knox Page
Subscribe to
The Globe and Mail

Email this article Print this article

space  Advertisement

Need CPR for your RSP? Check your portfolio’s pulse and lower yours by improving the overall health of your investments. Click here.


7-Day Site Search

Breaking News

Today's Weather


Rick Salutin
Merrily marching
off to war
Roy MacGregor
Duct tape might hold
when panic strikes

Where Manley is going with his first budget



For a columnist's most recent stories, click on their name below.


Roy MacGregor arrow
This Country
Jeffrey Simpson arrow
The Nation
Margaret Wente arrow
Hugh Winsor  arrow
The Power Game

Rob Carrick arrow
Personal Finance
Drew Fagan arrow
The Big Picture
Mathew Ingram arrow
Brent Jang arrow
Business West
Brian Milner arrow
Taking Stock
Eric Reguly arrow
To The Point
Andrew Willis arrow

Stephen Brunt arrow
The Game
Eric Duhatschek arrow
Allan Maki arrow
William Houston arrow
Truth & Rumours
Lorne Rubenstein arrow
 The Arts

John Doyle arrow
John MacLachlan Gray arrow
Gray's Anatomy
David Macfarlane arrow
Cheap Seats
Johanna Schneller arrow

Murray Campbell arrow
Ontario Politics
Lysiane Gagnon arrow
Inside Quebec
Marcus Gee arrow
The World
William Johnson arrow
Pit Bill
Paul Knox arrow
Heather Mallick arrow
As If
Leah McLaren arrow
Generation Why
Rex Murphy arrow
Japes of Wrath
Rick Salutin arrow
On The Other Hand
Paul Sullivan arrow
The West
William Thorsell arrow

Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels

© 2003 Bell Globemedia Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Help & Contact Us | Back to the top of this page