Fredericton-based chef delves deep into the ocean to create sustainable and delicious dishes
The landscape of food is changing. Today’s consumers are asking questions about where food comes from and how it’s produced and prepared. However, diners aren’t always willing to sacrifice enjoyment for peace of mind. They want fresh food that’s been raised, nurtured and cooked ethically from start to finish, and they want it to be flavourful and exciting, too.
At The Blue Door, chef Peter Diveto is more than pleased to treat diners to excellent Atlantic Canada cuisine that’s healthy, eco-friendly and worth every penny. He’s been helming the kitchen at the upscale Fredericton restaurant for three years, where he’s seamlessly merged Maritime tastes with exotic cuisines and flavours. The Blue Door offers diners seafood they’d expect from an East Coast restaurant, but it avoids some of the classics — like salmon — that may be over farmed.
“Some old favourites we never use, like tuna and halibut,” says Diveto. “They’ve been farmed to death. A halibut takes six to seven years to mature, and suppliers are lacking in big fish. This tells me that the fish haven’t had to time to recover.” The 33-year-old chef says he doesn’t accept questionable products either. “If suppliers don’t like it, then they won’t get my business.”
Diveto means what he says. His voice is loud and friendly, but there’s a distinct air of confidence when he speaks. A one-time ambitious dishwasher, his desire to run his own kitchen took root when his boss and mentor, chef Taso Markides, told him he would never be a chef. His self-proclaimed stubborn nature compelled him to become the best chef he could and his journey to the top has been going strong for 16 years.
The Blue Door is one of the few Atlantic Canada restaurants to be certified by Ocean-Wise, a Vancouver Aquarium initiative that encourages restaurants, farmers and suppliers to employ practices that will lead to sustainable fishing practices. Because he’s committed to not serving some popular species — like Chilean sea bass — that have been flagged by Ocean Wise, he and his team have to be creative. A Maritime restaurant without a varied fish selection to accompany its Asian-inspired menu just won’t do.
Diveto offers diners striped bass ($25), black cod ($24) and giant succulent scallops ($26) that overfill the palm of his hand. He also taught himself to make sushi and there’s Thai curry, pad Thai and coriander strip loin for customers who enjoy exotic flavours.
Diveto’s efforts haven’t only benefited the popular restaurant. Last year, Loblaws featured him as one of four chefs in its homegrown produce campaign, aimed at drawing attention to the company’s growing reliance on local farmers. Diveto was a natural choice, given his affinity for local ingredients. “It’s nice to know the farmers,” he says. “They care about the food they produce.”
While Diveto is careful not to travel too far when he’s shopping, he enjoys cooking close to home as well. “A lot of [Maritime] chefs go out West,” he says. “I always wanted to be a homegrown chef. There’s more going on than we get credit for, because life in the Maritimes is a little step back in time. [East Coast chefs] are mostly in the background, but that’s changing.”
Photography by David Smith/KlixPix