Eggs are local, versatile and ‘inherently Canadian’ says Halifax chef Craig FlinnBy Daniel Drolet
Craig Flinn was just beginning a master’s degree in cartography at St. Mary’s University in Halifax when the bottom fell out of his career plans.
“I’m an artistic person,” he says, explaining that when he sensed that new computer technology was taking the art out of map-making, he suddenly lost interest in the whole field.
When his brother suggested he consider a career in cooking instead—didn’t he like to bake and barbecue?—“a lightbulb went off in my head.”
He’s never looked back.
Now owner of three Halifax-area restaurants and the author of four cookbooks, Flinn expresses himself artistically in the kitchen.
And what he expresses is based on his firmly held belief that the best food is simple, local and seasonal.
That’s why Flinn is proud to be part of a national network of chefs working with Egg Farmers of Canada to explore new culinary trends and ways of enjoying eggs.
“My idea of good cooking has always been about local, seasonal products as much as humanly possible in a country like Canada,” he says, explaining that fresh, local eggs are available virtually across the entire country throughout the year.
“Eggs are part of a very efficient and organized delivery system,” he says.
“When you buy Canada Grade A eggs, you can be assured that they have travelled from farm to market in less than five days. Eggs are inherently Canadian, inherently seasonal and inherently fresh.”
Egg farmers and their families take great pride in offering a range of choice to Canadians—from classic white and brown eggs to enriched, free range, free run, organic and vitamin enhanced.
Flinn says one of the advantages of using local products is that it allows him to build relationships with the producers.
“As much as seasonal and local defines my menu, the relationships and the people behind the food is important too,” he says, adding that it’s important for him to know that when he buys an ingredient, he is supporting farm families with their roots in Canadian soil, as well as small businesses.
Flinn says the first image he has of cooking an egg is from his days as a boy scout. He recalls being taught to cut an empty apple juice can in two, build a fire in the bottom half, and fry an egg in the inverted upper half.
To this day, his favourite way to eat an egg is over-easy (or maybe it’s poached, he’s not sure). Either way, what he especially likes is dipping his toast into the runny yolk.
“It tastes like butter to me,” he says of the yolk. “It’s like the pearl in the oyster.”
As a chef, Flinn gets his inspiration first and foremost from the ingredients he has at his disposal. He is particularly fond of eggs because of their versatility.
“The egg is my favourite ingredient to work with,” he says. “For me, the egg symbolizes all that is magical and mystical about cooking and what good cooks and chefs can create from a few simple ingredients.”
For example, he says there’s almost an infinite variety of dishes that can be created from four basic main ingredients: eggs, butter, flour and sugar. It just depends on how they are combined and handled, and in what proportion.
Flinn says too many Canadians take their good-quality eggs for granted. People, he says, routinely order up eggs in a restaurant or keep them in their fridge without stopping to think about their value.
One important part of that value is that an egg provides a lot of healthy protein with relatively few calories.
“A two-egg meal is a high-protein meal,” he says.
But there’s more to it than that. He thinks the growing interest in local foods may be raising the egg’s profile.
“There are some food cultures that cherish the egg more than others,” he says, citing the French and their affection for the omelette.
“I really do think they are something we should cherish more in our culture.”
Join Egg Farmers of Canada and chefs from coast to coast, and share with us your favourite egg-inspired recipes using the hashtag #FarmToChef. Follow @eggsoeufs on Twitter and Instagram and like Get Cracking on Facebook, and tell us how you are experimenting with new tastes and techniques using eggs.