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Chef Jason Lynch is always looking for the next challenge.

This issue we are sitting down with my friend and fellow chef, Jason Lynch. Full disclosure: I have spoken to Jason many times about his connection to Norris Point, a picturesque village located within Gros Mourne National Park in Newfoundland and Labrador, and Jason speaks with such passion that I had always assumed that he was born and raised there. I’m finding out along with all of you that he was, in fact, born in Ontario and moved to Nova Scotia as a child. Jason grew up in rural Nova Scotia on a poultry farm that instilled in him a strong connection to farming and the local farming community. Because of that, Jason knew early on that his life’s work would involve becoming a chef.

He says, “I have always had love for food. Both my mother and grandmother were great cooks, and growing up on a farm, I always wanted to know where my food came from and how it was grown.”

After leaving Nova Scotia to obtain his culinary degree at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts Institute in Ottawa, he returned to Nova Scotia to work for Acton’s in Wolfville under chef Werner Bassen; who, according to Jason, was the best mentor a young chef could ask for. Chef Werner’s passion, drive and skill set were infectious. When Acton’s sold, Jason ventured down a different path and took on a consulting job for the owners of Neddies Harbour Inn in Norris Point, NL to help them build and develop a food program. While he ended up as chef at Le Caveau at Grand-Pré Winery a few years later, Norris Point has become his second home. “There is something about the west coast of Newfoundland that I can’t go without. The people and the place keep me connected.”

Atlantic Canada and especially Newfoundland have always had a major influence on Jason’s cooking. “The environment allows for such great foraging and direct relationships with our farmers and fisherman,” he says. “I have travelled a lot in my career, but nothing is like Nova Scotia and Newfoundland—they are part of me and who I am as a chef.”

He continues, “Neddies Harbour Inn consists of 15 rooms and a 50-seat restaurant called the Black Spruce where we focus on sustainable food and food practices as much as we can. We have our own gardens, root cellar and great relationships with local farmers and fishermen.”

Jason’s second restaurant is Le Caveau, a 50-seat restaurant located at Grand-Pré Winery in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia. Some years back, Le Caveau was named one of the world’s top 20 winery restaurants. Here, the focus is much the same: working to build strong relationships with the local farming communities around the county

The Black Spruce restaurant at Neddies Harbour Inn.

If all of that wasn’t enough, Jason’s newest venture is Cumin Kitchen and Drink, located in New Minas, just down the road from Le Caveau. Cumin Kitchen is a 40-seat casual restaurant. “We really wanted to have a very approachable and affordable restaurant that has a strong focus on community-based agriculture. It is open early in the morning for coffee and baked goods and runs through to early evening.”

Jason’s favourite foods to prepare are the simple things: wild mushrooms, fish, pasta and charcuterie. “I’m at a point where I don’t make anything I don’t like anymore. Making things you don’t like as a chef will never reflect well on your menu. I have never seen issues in my career as challenges; always more as opportunities. I most enjoy cooking with family and friends—food is about sharing and community. We try to bring this feeling to all our restaurants.

“I have known Alain for many years. I think my fondest memory, honestly, is bumping into him at the Cat Stop [Pub n Grub] in Norris Point; neither of us were aware that the other was there. Just having that time to enjoy the music and share a beverage in a place I know we both love.

“We share so many of the same passions for the industry and the people in the industry that make it great, that I know our friendship will last a lifetime.”

I feel the same way, Chef!

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