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Jasmin Hernandez, Online and In-Person

Jasmin Hernandez, Online and In-Person

Jasmin Hernandez, Online and In-Person

WE ARE HERE: VISIONARIES OF COLOR TRANSFORMING THE ART WORLD By Jasmin Hernandez (published by Abrams) Courtesy of Abrams

The New York-born, Afro-Dominican American writer Jasmin Hernandez, who founded the popular BIPOC-centered art website Gallery Gurls in 2012, remembers the 2010s as a moment of social transformation in the art world. The decade not only saw the meteoric rise of mid-career Black art superstars, like Mickalene Thomas, Kehinde Wiley, and Kerry James Marshall, but it also brought attention to a younger generation of BIPOC artists and art workers, whose practices challenged the art world’s exclusionary culture. 

“At that point,” Hernandez, 40, recalls, speaking with Observer, “it was a responsibility to turn Gallery Gurls into a digital archive and document everyone as much as possible.” In 2014, while still working as a freelance photo editor, she began visiting the studios and homes of artists and art world influencers to conduct interviews. Her conversations would grow to make up the majority of Gallery Gurls’ content and become Hernandez’s “calling card” in art world circles. 

Seven years later, and now a full-time arts journalist, Hernandez has entered the next phase in her archiving project with the publication of her first book, We Are Here: Visionaries of Color Transforming the Art World, a compilation of profiles of fifty BIPOC and QTBIPOC artists and art workers dedicated to fostering a culture of radical inclusivity within the industry. 

Much like Gallery Gurls, Hernandez composed the Q&As that appear in We Are Here with celebration of identity and “timelessness” as her guiding principles. “I wanted to keep the questions super simple, super foundational, super universal…I definitely focused on joy and pleasure,” Hernandez says. “There’s pleasure and joy in answering what your favorite color is and who your favorite fictional character is.”  We Are Here, Hernandez makes clear, is not a heavy academic compendium, but a “simple inspiration book” for BIPOC and QTBIPOC creators of this generation and the next, “a for-us, by-us endeavor.” 

As a child, Hernandez found her own creative inspiration in the art books that filled her family’s apartment in Jamaica, Queens in the 1980s. Her mother, a Dominican immigrant who had taught herself English by reading novels on her commute to work, encouraged Hernandez to develop her literacy skills at a young age. Despite their limited resources, literature was always “abundant” in their household. Hernandez devoured monographs on Goya, the Old Masters, and studied the works of painters from Titian to Rauschenberg. “The shelves on our walls were like my museums or my galleries,” she remembers. 

By the time she experienced her first visit to a museum at seventeen––venturing up to the Met alone to see the 1997 Gianni Versace costume exhibit––Hernandez was already steeped in art history, eager to meet the Goya’s, Titian’s, and Rauschenberg’s she’d pored over and fall in love a dozen times over: “I just [remember] walking into this grand museum and paying a penny, or like a few cents for the suggested admission, and just being blown over and blown away.”  Even at the time, however, she recognized the lack of BIPOC representation in the collections: “It was always white male artists. Not even white women. It was just white male artists.”

BIPOC and QTBIPOC creators populated other realms of Hernandez’s cultural universe. 

As an adolescent, she spent hours alone in her room, buried in print magazines dedicated to hip hop and Black culture like Vibe and The Source, or fashion like Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, where she followed the work of Azzedine Alaïa, Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks.

Artist, author and visionary Jasmin Hernandez. Photograph by Sunny Leerasanthanah © 2021 Jasmin Hernandez

In high school, Hernandez began to surround herself with “public school misfits” like herself. A part-time job at an Greenwich Village boutique introduced her to the QTBIPOC art and nightlife scene flourishing in Downtown Manhattan in the late ‘90s. “I met other Black and Brown queer kids, that also were art nerds and art dorks and fashion freaks,” says Hernandez. They hung out the Christopher Street piers and explored voguing balls and queer dance clubs. Her community grew as an undergraduate student at Parsons, and it would only continue to expand over the next two decades as Hernandez found herself spending more time online.

Born in 1980, Hernandez belongs to the first generation to grow up with Internet access. In college, she witnessed the late ‘90s dot com boom, which became a topic of interest within her business-oriented major. In the wake of the mania, she enrolled in a coding class and designed her first website as a group project, a celebrity fashion blog, called “” with a characteristically brash early-2000s aesthetic. During its short six-month lifespan, Hernandez produced the bulk of the site’s content, foreshadowing her future career in digital publishing. “I was planting the seed, and I didn’t know it,” Hernandez says.

The writer joined Myspace in 2007, and the platform quickly found its way into her professional life. As a freelancer at New York Magazine, she recalls using her Myspace account to communicate with an “anonymous [UK-based] nightlife collective,” only accessible through the platform for a magazine profile. “Even after the piece came out, we just kept a rapport,” says Hernandez. “When they came to New York, they threw a secret party and were asking me, ‘Can you help us with venues in New York?’ and I did.” Within the next few years, connecting with artists online would become second nature. 

By 2011, Hernandez was already a seasoned blogger, social media user, and a decade-long veteran of art world events. Now, she was considering a career transition into art media. She signed up for continuing education courses such as Careers in the Art World at Sotheby’s that year, where she befriended Ann Samuels, at the time working at a law firm, ten years her senior, and the only other Black woman in her class. The pair bonded over their shared interest in the work Black contemporary artists and began frequenting gallery openings and art fairs. “We went full throttle, and we just dove into the art world together very intensely and deeply,” Hernandez recalls. 

The pair launched Gallery Gurls in 2012 as a platform for their reviews, photos, and conversations centered on BIPOC artists. They would write about the art that moved them and focus on emerging BIPOC creators making waves.

Despite immersing herself in the New York art scene and writing prolifically, the art world jobs to which Hernandez applied often dismissed the value of her independent experience. Her age, 32 at the time, her lack of graduate degree, and her identity as a Black Latinx woman presented hurdles, the writer remembers. Gallery Gurls offered her a way to bypass industry “gatekeepers.”

When Samuels left the site in 2014, Hernandez took over, and invested herself in connecting with artists online, pursuing studio visits with rising stars like painters Hiba Schahbaz and Jordan Casteel through DMs. Instagram became a tool of research and discovery. It provided a way to not only build personal relationships, but also to identify key players in the field, tune into ongoing conversations, and observe a generation of disruptors coming to the fore. 

Many of the individuals interviewed in We Are Here echo Hernandez’s sentiments about the importance of social media in their creative lives. Several BIPOC and QTBIPOC creators contend, in particular, that platforms like Instagram allow them to better communicate their identities and practices to a broader audience. 

The fierce and resilient Tourmaline at A/D/O by MINI in Brooklyn. Photograph by Sunny Leerasanthanah © 2021 Jasmin Hernandez

Firelei Báez, a Dominican-born, New York based painter tells Hernandez in We Are Here “I appreciate the generosity of the medium, whether constructed or not, in sharing process and inspiration, not just the big heroic moments.” The Los Angeles-based multimedia artist Shyama Golden adds, “I’m no longer solely at the mercy of a panel of judges who might not get what I’m about.”

With punchy prose and lush photography by Sunny Leerasanthanah and Jasmine Durhal on every page, We Are Here exists happily in the age of social media, while offering a portrait of the generation of BIPOC creators that used it first to assert their presence in art and the world at large.  Nevertheless, Hernandez’s text still carries with it the precious things that the Internet lacks: the authority and durability of a book and the promise of canonization for its fifty subjects. 

Upon finally seeing We Are Here in print after two years, Hernandez shares, “I just knew that this book will still be looked at in 2027 and 2029.” 

With We Are Here now on bookstore shelves, the writer already has her eyes on potential second and third volumes. “There are no Gen Z subjects in the book, and I want to get to them in volume two or three,” says Hernandez. “This is unstoppable…They need to get documented as well.”

Jasmin Hernandez, Online and In-Person

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New Report On Art and Technology Finds Collectors Crave Communication

New Report On Art and Technology Finds Collectors Crave Communication

New Report On Art and Technology Finds Collectors Crave Communication

Art on display at the Frieze Los Angeles 2020 art fair in Los Angeles, California. MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images

Over the past calendar year, as the pandemic raged and denizens of the art world retreated into their homes, online auctions and remote collecting became both the norm and a genuinely lucrative pastime. Although many in the art world are craving the energy of large fairs, the frisson of a gallery opening and the charge of haggling over an exquisite canvas in person, it has come to pass that digital art world innovations are also here to say. A new report by the ART+TECH Collector’s Edition found that 80% of its responding collectors had bought art online at least once, and that 9 out of 10 collectors prefer to see prices displayed while buying art online.

This, of course, makes a great deal of sense. In a world in which many are used to the seamless efficiency of services like Amazon Prime, the art world’s often opaque attitude towards pricing transparency can feel outdated and out of place. Similarly, collector respondents to the ART+TECH survey said that galleries should streamline their websites to make them more compatible with the age of digital browsing and shopping. If people fall in love with something, they want to make it theirs fast.

Interestingly, 78% of respondents to the survey who had purchased art online had not physically seen the work before going through with the purchase, but this seems in keeping with the way other commodities are bought and sold these days; even pets can be purchased online.

However, as successful as digital innovations in the art world have doubtlessly been 2/3 of users in all the sales formats surveyed by ART+TECH said that they would enjoy a form of personal, real-time communication during the art buying process. After all, no matter how well-designed a website is, it’s no match for a well-informed gallery employee with a winning smile and time to kill.

New Report On Art and Technology Finds Collectors Crave Personal Communication

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Frustrating supermarket problem sparks idea

Frustrating supermarket problem sparks idea

We have all been there – you’re on your way to see a loved one for a special occasion when you suddenly realise you don’t have a card for them.

That’s exactly what happened to Leah Dezsery, but when her visit to the supermarket proved futile it sparked an idea for her now business.

“We were going to a birthday party and we were rushing and we didn’t have a card so we went to Woolworths,” the Adelaide woman told

“They were so overpriced … I was looking at all the cards going, ‘Look at all the plastic on them and they’re huge and so expensive and don’t look that nice either.’”

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Annoyed, Ms Dezery didn’t buy one as she didn’t see the point in spending money on any of them.

“We actually ended up going without because I disliked all of them and I thought, you know what I’ll just make do,” she said.

“I think I just got a piece of paper and wrote something nice on it.”

But the experience got her thinking — just how many of us are buying expensive cards we don’t like, but feel like we have to give, only to have them go in the bin afterwards?

Ms Dezsery, now 26, began thinking about whether there was a way to make gift cards more sustainable for the environment — and remembered learning about seeded paper while studying visual communications at university.

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Feeling unsatisfied creatively by her work at a marketing agency, the graphic designer decided to make her own gift cards that not only would be made from recycled materials but also contained seeds, which meant they could be planted and later bloom into native Swan River daisies.

“That’s where I came up with the idea of doing plantable gift cards because it’s not just a gift card, it’s also a gift in itself, it grows flowers,” Ms Dezsery said.

After six months of designing her cards and sourcing materials Ms Dezsery launched Nurturing Nature Cards online, also making an Instagram account to promote her work.

“(The idea) was not intentionally to have a business, it was really just to create something that I love and put it out there,” she said.

“Instantly I got two sales from the first (Instagram) post and I was like woah, that’s crazy, I didn’t think I would get any notice at all. And then from there it just kind of rolled on.”

In the beginning Ms Dezsery would get two to three orders a week but as her cards began being stocked in local shops, word about Nurturing Nature Cards spread.

At the beginning of 2020 business was booming enough that Ms Dezsery decided to take a “leap of faith” and go full time with the business — only to have the coronavirus pandemic strike just weeks later.

Concerned because her shop stockists, which accounted for roughly 50 per cent of her income, were having to close their doors, Ms Dezsery had to make a quick business decision.

“It did affect me in the first couple of months because of COVID, but then as time progressed I decided to pivot and focus on my retail clientele and give them something extra,” she said.

“I offered a free handwritten service where I would write in their cards for them so they didn’t have to purchase the card and then the card get to them, then send it to a friend. I could send it to a friend on their behalf.”

Today Ms Dezsery’s business has made a full recovery, with sales already up 127 per cent on last year.

She’s incredibly proud of the success of her business and her cards are now stocked in 150 stores across Australia and New Zealand.

However Ms Dezsery has no plans to see her cards, which she still makes by hand, stocked in a big supermarket.

“Because it’s handmade it would be hard to make it accessible to a supermarket because that’s the nature of sustainability — if it gets too big it’s almost not sustainable anymore,” she said.

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Richard Branson Dumps $650 Million Virgin Galactic Stock in a Year

Richard Branson Dumps 0 Million Virgin Galactic Stock in a Year

Richard Branson Dumps 0 Million Virgin Galactic Stock in a Year

Sir Richard Branson gives a thumbs up from a seat during the unveiling of a scale model of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShip2 at a news conference 28 September, 2006 in New York. DON EMMERT/AFP via Getty Images

Virgin Galactic’s space tourism business is struggling to take off as the pandemic and testing setbacks keep pushing back the start date of its commercial service. And its founder Sir Richard Branson’s aggressive stock selloff is hurting investors’ confidence in the company.

Last year, Branson cashed out $500 million worth of Virgin Galactic shares as the pandemic took a toll on Virgin Group’s other travel and leisure businesses. This week, the billionaire dumped another $150 million of Virgin Galactic stock, a Wednesday SEC filing revealed.

Branson, and four entities under his control (including Virgin Group), sold 5,584,000 shares of Virgin Galactic at prices between $26.85 and $28.73. Its share price tumbled 14 percent on Thursday.

Virgin Group intends to use the cash from this sale to “support its portfolio of global leisure, holiday and travel businesses that continue to be affected by the unprecedented impact of COVID-19,” the company said in a statement. Virgin Group remains the largest shareholder in Virgin Galactic, owning a quarter of the company.

Last month, another key shareholder, Virgin Galactic Chairman Chamath Palihapitiya, who helped take the company public in 2019, sold all of his personal stake in the company, worth about $213 million. Palihapitiya said he plans to redirect the money “into a large investment towards fighting climate change.”

The news adds to the already mounting uncertainty among investors over Virgin Galactic’s future. Analyst ratings are slipping. Six months ago, eight out of eight analysts covering the stock rated shares “buy,” per Barrons. This month, only four out of 10 analysts covering the stock have a “buy” rating.

In May, the company is going to test fly its SpaceShipTwo vehicle again after the first attempt failed last December. 

“Valuation is complicated by long-term uncertainty,” Bernstein analyst Douglas Harned wrote in a note Tuesday. “A catastrophic failure by any provider could have a crushing effect on demand for all. We expect risk per flight to be low. But, as activity ramps, chances of an accident would increase.”

On the operational side, Virgin Galactic has also lost several key executives in recent months. Its chief financial officer Jon Campagna left the company in March. (He was replaced by Doug Ahrens, an outside hire.) Longtime CEO George Whitesides, who switched to a new role called chief space officer last July, left the same month to pursue unspecified opportunities in public service.

Late last year, Virgin Galactic’s chief operating officer Enrico Palermo, who was in charge of the manufacturing of the SpaceShipTwo vehicle, left to return to his native Australia as the new head of the Australian Space Agency

Virgin Galactic is currently headed by Michael Colglazier, a former Disney executive, who joined in July to replace Whitesides.

Is Richard Branson Abandoning Virgin Galactic?

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Chef Jock Zonfrillo: ‘Dieting isn’t my thing’

Chef Jock Zonfrillo: ‘Dieting isn’t my thing’

It already seems like a lifetime ago — and hopefully it will be another lifetime before it happens again — but remember when rumours of an impending lockdown started rumbling in Australia, and people started going bananas over bananas at the supermarket?

I can tell you one person who wasn’t worried: MasterChef Australia host and acclaimed chef, Jock Zonfrillo.

It’s the benefit of cooking for a living — food is something that’s never in short supply at the Zonfrillo household.

“We always have so much food in our house that even if they closed supermarkets we could survive for weeks,” the Scotland-bred, Melbourne-based celebrity chef, says.

“Dieting isn’t my thing, I love food too much and also have such a fast metabolism I always seem hungry.

“The five key things that are always in my kitchen are pancetta, HP sauce, parmesan, pasta and lemons. With those up my sleeve I can make a lot of different dishes.”

Besides, he had more important things to worry about last year than where his next roll of toilet paper was coming from, with the famously sweary chef’s family growing by one, throwing his world into happy chaos in the way only a new baby can.

“We welcomed our little daughter Isla in 2020 so even with all the bad stuff that was going on, when I look back on the year I really only remember that,” he says.

As for keeping on top of his health as we head into the colder months, Zonfrillo says he plans on being consistent — by continuing to not do a whole lot.

“I’m not really known for my health approach,” the 44-year-old laughs.

“I think being a chef for my whole working life has meant that I am used to minimal sleep, more coffee than the average person, and being on my feet a lot.

“I am always getting up well before I have to so I can be one step ahead of where I need to be. On a work day, I like to be on set before I need to be, saying hi to everyone, making endless coffees.”

MasterChef Australia premieres on Monday, April 19 at 7.30pm on Network 10.



“One of the main lessons I’ve learnt from my travels into indigenous communities is to give back more than you take, and that has become a core part of my life.”


“I find hanging out with my kids gets every muscle in my body moving. I have my son on my shoulders, rolling around on the floor, playing in the park. It’s the ultimate form of exercise.”


“It’s really only recently that I have paid attention to when things don’t feel quite right, the feelings of doubt, moments that make me more anxious than normal,” he says.

“For the last couple of decades I have been leading a team, leading a kitchen, and there’s an expectation of strength, of having thick skin, or being able to have difficult conversations and move on.

“Only in the last year or so have I questioned that and realised it’s okay to not be the most confident or in control person in the room.”


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No ocean waves? No problem. River surfing is taking off in landlocked Canada

No ocean waves? No problem. River surfing is taking off in landlocked Canada

River surfing is something you need to see, or at least YouTube, to really wrap your head around. Niche for now, it’s an adventure sport gaining traction in landlocked parts of Canada — including Alberta’s mountain-fed rivers, and Ontario and Quebec’s urban waterways — which, until recently, were probably the last places you’d think to bring your board.

“Just imagine what surfing looks like on the ocean,” suggests Neil Egsgard, a practitioner of the sport for more than 15 years. “It’s the same equipment, the same motion. Except on the ocean, the wave is moving toward the shore — and on the river, the wave stands in one place.”

It’s a bit like an aquatic halfpipe, a stationary wall of curling water, upon which a surfer can carve up and down and across, sometimes for hours on end.

“When it goes well, it’s incredibly freeing and beautiful,” says Egsgard, president of the Alberta River Surfing Association. “When you’re doing it, the only thing that exists is that moment, the way you’re moving and how it feels.”

Egsgard stumbled across the sport shortly after moving to Calgary in 2005, when he saw someone surfing the Bow River. “That was a big surprise,” he recalls. He was instantly intrigued and went down to talk to the surfer. It took him, however, two full years to successfully catch his own river wave. “Ocean surfing is much easier,” he adds, though the learning curve depends on your athleticism, your familiarity with other board sports and the wave itself.

The safety protocols are also different from its oceanic cousin sport: There’s no leash tethering you to your board, lest it traps you on the river bottom; a helmet and life-jacket are mandatory, especially for beginners. But “if you do it properly,” Egsgard notes, “the risk is very low.”

Some waves that river surfers catch are naturally occurring, created when the water drops from a high point to a lower point in the river bed. These can be seasonal, at their best during the spring thaw, for instance, and sensitive to river levels. Others are man-made, built when structures are placed in the river to mimic the natural phenomenon, and have the potential be adjusted depending on the river’s flow, meaning they can be tailored to beginners, for example, and operational all year-round.

Egsgard co-owns a consulting company, Surf Anywhere, which works with communities looking to build their own river wave, and he’s a big believer in the positive economic impact a river wave can have on the area around it.

In downtown Munich, Germany, for instance, one of the world’s most famous spots for river surfing — the fast-flowing Eisbach canal wave — attracts intrepid athletes and curious spectators alike. “Wave tourism is worth around $50 billion dollars a year,” Egsgard points out. Why shouldn’t Canada, with its abundant rivers, have a bigger piece of that?

Whether waves are purpose-built or gifted by nature, one thing unites them: Where there’s a river wave, there’s a river surfing community. Because there’s only a single wave to surf, enthusiasts must line up to take their turn, which naturally lends itself to conversation while waiting.

You can look up river surfing associations or even instructors, but one of the best ways to get started in the sport is just to go down to a local wave and get chatting to people, who can connect you to lessons and gear. (Soft boards recommended, by the way, since hard boards get punished by the hard river floor.)

“River surfers are very friendly,” Egsgard says, noting that there isn’t the same territorialism you can find by the ocean. The single wave also creates a particular etiquette around the sport. “You wait your turn, and there’s usually an unwritten time limit on how long you would spend on the wave.”

In Calgary, where he surfs, it’s about a minute during busy periods, although other waves, like the big ones in Montreal and Ottawa, where you have to paddle much further to get to the wave, and it’s harder to catch them when you do, have more nuanced practices. “Those big waves? You’re not going to catch them unless you have a lot of experience,” Egsgard cautions.

But you’ll almost certainly have a great time learning.

Where you can river surf in Canada

Ottawa: Arguably Canada’s river surfing capital, the city has three notable waves — Champlain, Sewer and Desert — right on the Ottawa River. The last is surfable year-round, so pack your extra-warm wetsuit.

Montreal: If you’d like to learn, KSF offers lessons (private, group or even surf camp) on the rapids of the St. Lawrence River, part of the city’s vibrant river surfing community.



Calgary: If you’re in search of a “bunny wave,” the one found by the 10th Street Bridge is a great spot to start. The much more experienced, however, will find plenty to challenge in the nearby Kananaskis River’s Mountain Wave.

The Star understands the restrictions on travel during the coronavirus pandemic. But like you, we dream of travelling again, and we’re publishing this story with future trips in mind.

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In a new cookbook, two West Coasters write a love letter to Canada’s East Coast

In a new cookbook, two West Coasters write a love letter to Canada’s East Coast

It had all the makings of a recipe for success. Take one bestselling author (Emily Lycopolus), add an award-winning photographer (DL Acken) and combine to create a cookbook dedicated to the culinary traditions of Canada’s Atlantic provinces.

There was just one missing ingredient: Although both had an affinity for the region, neither Lycopolus nor Acken is from Atlantic Canada.

A view of shimmering water in Newfoundland.

“Before we even pitched the book, we had to ask ourselves, ‘What are two West Coast girls doing writing a definitive East Coast cookbook?’” says Acken, who is based on Salt Spring Island, B.C.

While researching their book, they travelled to the region multiple times, totalling 14 weeks on the road through four different seasons. But what they discovered was that their outsiders’ perspective allowed them to capture and translate the region in a way that may not have otherwise been possible.

“The producers and chefs we met were so immersed in their own scene. With their identity tied to one place, many told us they couldn’t write the book we were writing,” says Lycopolus, who lives in Victoria, B.C.

A lobster boil on the beach was an especially memorable experience.

Out April 27, “A Rising Tide” is part cookbook, part love letter to Atlantic Canada. Organized by province, its 336 pages are filled with rich colour photos, stories of the region’s producers and ingredients, and local recipes.

As one would expect, it’s heavy on seafood — but it’s not all lobster rolls and Jiggs’ Dinners. Instead, you’ll find scallops wrapped in smoked salmon and dipped in edamame bean purée, and foraged fiddleheads transformed into fritters. It’s a celebration of what the pair calls the region’s “food renaissance” — and ultimately, of the unexpected surprises you’ll only stumble across if you take the back-roads.

"A Rising Tide" includes recipes like One-Pot Lobster Dinner.

Here, Acken and Lycopolus recall some of their favourite memories — and meals — from the making of “A Rising Tide.”

Emily Lycopolus: “Once we hit the ground, it was planes, trains, automobiles and ferries. We didn’t spend more than four nights in the same place. Our days were long and full, starting at 5 a.m. to catch the golden hour. We’d eat breakfast at McDonald’s, but dinner was usually at places like Raymonds in St. John’s, which is ranked one of Canada’s top restaurants and serves dishes like freshly caught cod with sea urchin.”

When the capelin are rolling, the water turns black with fish.

Danielle (DL) Acken: “We learned quickly if you see people milling on the edges of the ocean or at a food stand, you need to pull over. In Digby, Nova Scotia, we saw people digging for quahogs, which are large, delicious clams. And in Bonavista, Newfoundland, we saw families with buckets and nets, which is how we learned the capelin were ‘rolling.’ Capelin are smelts and they roll in on the waves. I didn’t really understand it until I saw it with my own eyes. The water just turns black with fish. Even toddlers were running into the ankle-deep water, reaching in and coming up with handfuls of fish.”

Lycopolus: “Atlantic Canada’s terroir is really unique. It has everything it needs to be a self-sustaining system, from the bounty of the coast to the density of the forest. We sought out game meat everywhere we travelled, especially in Newfoundland. It’s one of the only provinces that allows game to be sold in grocery stores and served in restaurants. That’s how we met Lori McCarthy, who runs foraging, curing and wild game experiences in Avondale, Newfoundland, with her company, Cod Sounds. At her cottage on the lake, I listened to her explain to a hunter how to butcher a moose to make osso buco. It’s her mission to translate these old traditional ways, make them relevant to the next generation, and preserve the culture of Newfoundland and Labrador.”

No East Coast trip is complete without sweet, briny oysters.

Lycopolus: “The biggest surprise for me was New Brunswick. When you’re driving through, all you see is trees, but the moment you deviate off the highway it’s the most delightful province with the most incredible farmers’ markets. The Fredericton Boyce Farmers Market has more than 200 farmers, purveyors and producers, selling products loved from seed all the way to market. It’s where you’ll find dulse, a seaweed only grown on one side of the Grand Manan, an island in the Bay of Fundy. It’s traditionally used in butters and spreads. Having brown bread with a smear of dulse butter tastes like New Brunswick — the perfect combination of field and sea in one bite.”



Acken: “Sometimes a place just calls to you, and for me, Newfoundland was that place. On the day we were supposed to leave St. John’s to fly to Halifax, we were invited to a lobster boil with Mark McCrowe, a chef, restaurateur and author of “Island Kitchen: An Ode to Newfoundland.” We knew it would be amazing, but we were on a tight schedule. After our plane took off, the captain came over the intercom: One of the plane’s doors wasn’t working so we had to turn around. I have a fear of flying, so it was harrowing — but it turned out to be the happiest of serendipitous circumstances. It’s how we found ourselves on the beach eating lobsters with some of St. John’s top chefs. It was like the province was saying, ‘You can’t leave. You have to stay.’”

A sunlit Prince Edward Island beach.

Lycopolus: “My mom used to read “Anne of Green Gables” to me, and we’d bake plum pudding like Marilla, Anne’s guardian. One day, as Danielle and I were walking down the beach together on Prince Edward Island, the sun was shining on the red cliffs. Immersed in that warm sunlight, I pictured Anne and her best friend Diana on top of a cliff, the sea breeze blowing through their hair. And I thought, ‘I can’t believe we’re here.’ It was all my childhood dreams coming true. But the trips really weren’t about us. I don’t even have a single picture of Danielle and me together. Atlantic Canada is the star, the reason, the purpose — not us.”

Atlantic Canada à la carte

Acken and Lycopolus share their suggestions for a multi-province meal that showcases Atlantic Canada’s best ingredients and flavours.

Main course: “You’re going to find traditional lobster dinners every time you turn a corner. And yes, they’re fun and delicious. But instead, sidle up to a bar somewhere and get a plate of fresh Malpeque PEI oysters, like the ones from the Colville Bay Oyster Company. They’re just so sweet and briny,” says Acken.

Drink: Visit Halifax-based Compass Distillers to sample the “GiNS.” Made with ingredients “gathered in Nova Scotia,” the distillery’s gins and rye whisky can be sampled on its one-hour tour for $17.

Dessert: Raymonds in St. John’s may be known for seafood, but save room for dessert. Award-winning pastry chef Celeste Mah incorporates foraged ingredients into sweet treats in memorable ways. “She makes madeleines infused with wild pineapple weed,” says Acken. “It grows in the sidewalks, but I think it was one of the best things I ate.”

"A Rising Tide," by Emily Lycopolus and DL Acken, Appetite by Random House, 336 pages, $40

The Star understands the restrictions on travel during the coronavirus pandemic. But like you, we dream of travelling again, and we’re publishing this story with future trips in mind.

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