Blunt Inquiry - Todd Perrin


Chef & owner Mallard Cottage – Quidi Vidi, Newfoundland


What is your idea of a perfect restaurant?
A beautiful space with good, honest food. A place where the people that work there and the customers are both having a great time. Every service would feel like your guests are coming to your house for dinner.

What is your greatest fear at work?
That we don’t deliver what we promise….
 
Which working Chef do you most admire?
So many…..I pretty much admire anybody that puts on an apron, picks up a knife and enters this life. There are easier ways to make a living and anyone who enters a pro kitchen and does it with good work ethic and honesty gets my admiration – commis, chef de partie, or exec. Chef – we are all just cooks
 
What part of work ‘you’ do you most deplore in yourself?
 Probably micro managing from time to time. Sometimes I lapse into “nobody can do it but me” – but that is never true. 

What would instantly make you fire someone?
 Laziness.

What was your most extravagant purchase for your restaurant?
Tough one! I don’t really see anything we’ve purchased as extravagant per se…..perhaps our collection of Le Creuset would be up there or our Paco Jet.
 
What is your favourite food journey?
Spent a couple of vacations in the Adriatic, sailing around Croatia. Just had amazing food and wine there…..still hoping to go back.
 
What words or phrases do you most overuse at work?
My crew will probably say, “Well, when I started……” – I can’t help regaling them with old war stories, but that’s natural when you have 20+ years on most of your crew
 
What do you regret most after all your years in the business?
Not a thing. Regrets are just the fuel to push you on to be better….I have lots of fuel, no regrets.
 
What do you love most about this industry?
The camaraderie, the conviviality, the fun, the buzz, the food, the wine, the people……what else is there….?
 
What is your current state of mind?
Is motivated satisfaction a thing……? Happy where I am, but striving to be better and to see what comes next.
 
If you could change anything about the restaurant industry where you are, what would it be?
The inequity of remuneration based on the tipping model that exists.
The tempering of the “customer is always right” philosophy…..because they are not always right and some customers  take advantage of that tradition. They need to be called out..
 
What do you consider your most essential ingredient?
Butter, salt and pork are neck and neck and neck.

The work/life balance struggle is real.  How good of a juggler are you?  Tips?
 Terrible and I have no tips. But I am accepting them.

What is your most treasured kitchen tool?
My Green River paring knife.
 
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Sitting in a pub with no beer.
 
When you finally retire, were will you live?
Hopefully where I live now….in my dream house, in my dream corner of perhaps the greatest city the world has ever seen – St. John’s! (Over the top?)
 
What is your most marked characteristic?
My desire to be a straight shooter, no bullshit talker. I try to tell it like it is at all times, or at least tell it as I see it…
 
What is the quality you most like in a chef?
Hard worker with a dose of humility.
 
What is your greatest inspiration/motivation?
Fear of failure.
 
Superman or Spiderman?
Spiderman.
 
What is the first thing you remember cooking?
Bacon and eggs.
 
Beck or Clapton?
Clapton
 
You have to cook Escoffier’s death row meal.  Menu?
I’d ask him what he wanted, but it better be pork of some description
 
Favourite kitchen word or phrase?
Oui!

Mallard Cottage