What is the most extravagant meal you ever cooked?
I’m think back to New Years Eve 2000, my restaurant in Halifax. We cooked a 14 course menu that reflected every single province and territory in Canada. I’m forgetting what the price point was, but I’m thinking upwards 300 to 400 dollars a head just for the food.
What is you biggest cook pet peeve?
My single biggest pet peeve is when you belly up to the breakfast buffet and you get those hard chucks of cantaloupe and honey dew melon. I find it so lazy that chefs won’t take the time to ripen their fruit.
What is one this during your travels that you picked up, like a cooking tip, that has stuck with you?
There’s been so many. I’ve been around the world five times in the past five years, 37 different countries and I’ve cooked everywhere I went. I couldn’t even begin to think which one was the best. I think, though, about the various cooking tools that I’ve brought home.
What is one food you could never get tired of?
Oh boy, Apples. Yea, I’m thinking a lot about apples these days. Its apple season on Prince Edward Island, where I live, I love my apples. I grew up in an apple orchard. I couldn’t image life without apples.
What is one food that you hated as a child, but you love now?
Would you believe Chocolate? I’m not kidding. All chocolate, I wouldn’t eat chocolate when I was a kid. I didn’t like going to birthday parties because the cake was always chocolate. Who knew? But I don’t hate it anymore, that’s for sure.
When your children do not want to eat something, how do you convince them to try it?
They know they have to try it. They know that, so, I don’t have to convince them, it’s just part of how our family works, you got to try everything. You don’t have to like it, you don’t have to finish it, but you do have to try it. And the kids know that, more often than not, something that they thought they wouldn’t like, they actually end up liking it.
What is the first meal you ever cooked for you significance other?
What is the first thing I ever cooked for Chaz? I honestly don’t remember the first thing I cooked for her. I mean, I’ve cooked so many different things for her.
I am thinking about a particular picnic we had together on a boat floating down the fortune river where I asked her to marry her, that was a nice day. We had a variety of salads and she’s famous for her Chaz and tonics, the gin and tonics that she makes, so I make them that day. I actually put her recipe in my latest cook book.
What is your proudest moment as a chef?
I guess I would think about all the times when somebody has come up to me and said something along the lines of ‘you changed my life.’ I don’t really see that as being a chef thing as being a cook, I mean my days as a chef as sort of fading away behind me. I’m not involved with restaurants anymore. It’s not what I do. But I do see myself as an advocate for healthy home cooking and when a home cook says to me ‘I was scared of cooking before, you inspired me and now I do this, this and this.’ That’s the juice, that feels amazing, that’s what makes it worth getting up in the morning.
Mary Berg cooks a make-ahead vegetarian chili with butternut squash and apples.
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