Chef Chris cooks up community during COVID-19
By Zachary Roman
On May 2, Rhubarb restaurant in Carnarvon hosted their first takeout night since the provincial government announced that all restaurants can be open for takeout only due to COVID-19. They expected to serve around 25 meals and ended up serving close to 120, while live music from Haliburton’s own Nick and Benton wowed the physically-distanced lineup.
It was a welcome busy night for chef Christoph Carl and his wife, Terri Mathews-Carl, who own Rhubarb together. If you weren’t able to make it to the first takeout night, don’t worry because Chris and his family have been doing something else to keep busy too.
They have been creating their own video series called “Cooking With Chris,” where you can get step-by-step instructions on how to create delicious meals in your own home. “There was a callout through President’s Choice to do some cooking at home videos for chefs,” said Mathews-Carl. “The kids and I saw it and we were home and we thought he’d be perfect for it.”
At first, Carl didn’t want to do the videos because he felt a little shy and nervous about it. He’d never done anything like it before. Mathews-Carl and the kids spent two weeks hounding Carl and said at first they thought he did it just to get them off his back. But when the first video was done, he was quite pleased with the results.
Carl’s 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, has been having tons of fun filming and editing the videos. And Carl himself has been getting excited thinking about what to make next. “It gave him some excitement about cooking again and what different recipes he could offer that people could do at home easily enough, but still taste as good as a restaurant,” said Mathews-Carl. “It just took off from there. We’ve had so many people send us in videos and pictures of their family who have made the same meal.”
One of those families is Joleen Thomas’s, who were familiar with Carl and his restaurant before “Cooking With Chirs” started. Rhubarb is the only restaurant in the county they have eaten out at together, as Carl has been able to accommodate Thomas’s oldest daughter Olivia’s many anaphylactic allergies.
Two of Thomas’s kids, 12-year-old Violet Humphries and 10-year-old Tristan Humphries watched a “Cooking With Chris” video and made dinner for the whole family. Thomas’s thoughts on the meal? “Oh my gosh, it was so good, it was so great. And they had so much fun making it.”
Thomas was impressed that Carl has been giving his free time to the community even though no one can go to Rhubarb and spend their money right now, except by ordering for takeout. “He’s giving out something that’s still making us feel connected,” said Thomas.
Mathews-Carl said that some of the “Cooking With Chris” videos have received upwards of 20,000 views on Facebook. Additionally, the Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization website has made the video series their Monday feature.
“I think this is a great way for the community to see [Carl]. They’re used to popping their head into the kitchen and saying hi to him when they come to the restaurant,” said Mathews-Carl. “I think it’s just been a really nice way on both sides for him to feel connected and for people to see him and feel like it’s all gonna be OK, he’s still there and everything’s good.”
You can find “Cooking With Chris” videos on Rhubarb’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.