Tyler Gallant likes the seafood business
by Ann Thurlow
It’s easy to imagine Tyler Gallant behind the stove in a restaurant kitchen. He moves with the grace of someone who is used to juggling a lot of things. He is always looking around; he anticipates a customer before they even come to his stand.
In fact, you would have found him in a restaurant kitchen before you would have found him where he is now: running his own seafood business. He got the bug when he was doing that almost requisite teenage thing—working at a fast food place. From there, he went to the Culinary Institute and then moved on to restaurants in Boston and Nantucket, Bermuda and St. Martins. When he came home again, he worked at such notable spots as The Pearl, Shaw’s and Mavor’s.
Through all of this, he was introduced to a couple of home truths: a hired chef doesn’t run his own show and being a chef on PEI is a hard way to make a full-time living.
A stint in St. John’s, Newfoundland, helped convince him to open his own business, featuring the very best of PEI seafood and seafood recipes. He and his partner, Christine Murnaghan, now own and operate Gallant’s PEI Seafood and his restless energy seems to have found a home.
He credits the Charlottetown Farmer’s Market for giving him the kind of initial boost he needed. He was lucky enough to secure a booth there; every Saturday (and Wednesdays in the summer) he serves up rich, dreamy seafood chowder and crab cakes and shucks fresh oyster (which are the very best thing to have for breakfast)).
On Friday, he serves seafood at Timothy’s World Coffee and, through the summer he shucks oysters in a gazebo behind the Delta. He caters. He provided food for the PEI Shellfish Festival.
He and his partner have been able, in other words to carve out jobs for themselves and a staff (including his younger brother).
There’s another method in all this madness. Though he’s happy for now to be a bit of a gypsy, he does hope, someday, to have his own bricks and mortar business, too. But, having had a lot of experience catering for tourists, he has a new passion now: serving Island food to Islanders.
In some ways, it’s a matter of economics. He can only hope to make a fulltime living with a fulltime customer base, and that isn’t tourists.
But beyond that, he actually loves the good old PEI recipes and thinks others would, too. His eyes light up at the mention of salt cod and blue potatoes—he agrees that there’s nothing like a roast pork dinner. Though his present emphasis is solidly on the best, locally sourced seafood, he recognizes that PEI has a lot more to offer—including great recipes. “We’re supposed to be the food island, right? Let’s celebrate the food we make as well as the food we grow.”
Find Gallant’s PEI Seafood at the Charlottetown Farmer’s Market or at Timothy’s on Great George Street, Charlottetown.