As with everything else in the festival, which is all about reclaiming empty downtown spaces with artistic endeavours, the series sees local chefs preparing meals in front of an audience that is also invited to help out. It’s educational, informative, hands on, fun, and a great way to see what goes on in the kitchen while you await your meal. The festival has three chefs lined up for the series, with Nick Crudo of Cafe Amore, Black Pearl, and Pasta Amore first up this Saturday night for two events.
“When Leigh and Vicky (Wright) started Vignette a number of years back there was a diner’s week that I was part of, where we took over the Sobey’s building on Jasper and 104,” Crudo recalls. “It was fun; I broke down a lobster in front of everyone to show them how it was done. I haven’t been part of it for a few years, though.”
Now that this year’s edition of Vignettes has taken over the building at 10420 103 Ave., south of the Edmonton Neon Sign Museum, Crudo is back with a three-course meal drawing from his trio of restaurants. He wants to keep most of the meal a mystery, but allows that he’ll be cooking a deconstructed maple sausage crostini, sambuca rosé lobster tail and fresh-made strozzapreti pasta, along with freshly shucked east coast oysters.
“I’ve known Lee and Vicky for a few years now and I love the idea behind Vignettes,” Crudo says. “The city should be more open to people like Lee. He thinks the same way that I do. One of the reasons I opened a seafood restaurant in the middle of the Prairies is that I believed that we deserved to have one, and we don’t have to live on the coast to have one.”
RGE RD and Bottega will be following up on Oct. 26 and Nov. 2, respectively; tickets are $95.34 to $131.31, available from the website.
Mini Kitchen, El Gringo set up storefront
You’ll no longer have to wait for the weekend to grab treats from Mini Kitchen.
The company, which has been selling ready-to-go Indian and Thai food in various farmers markets around the city for seven years now, has set up a storefront with their associates from El Gringo at 9729-42 Ave. in which to sell their wares.
“People can expect regular Mini Kitchen and El Gringo food fare, but it will also be operational in a small deli style,” says owner Damini Mohan, still reeling from a soft opening on Tuesday that saw close to a hundred people make their way through the store. “We’ll have some creative freedom in terms of what meals we can have for people. There’ll be more fusion options, more meals that are nostalgic for me, and also some Mexican-style sandwiches.”
While Mini Kitchen will still have a presence at a few farmers markets, Mohan is putting a great deal of time into the storefront operation, which she says is still being conceptualized.
“It’s a work in progress; over the next few months it will start to take form. We want it to be warm and cosy, so that if someone wants a hot meal they can stop by for it. El Gringo just had their salsa added to the Gifted Catalogue, so if anyone is looking for that they’ll find it here as well.”
The Hardware Grill may be gone, but the ghost of that well-loved downtown restaurant lingers on as staff disperse to other opportunities. Chef Dan Strelow, sous-chef Manny Sebastian and Jason Tampus have made their way to Bistecca Steak House in Century Park, where there’ll work under chef Sonny Sung; meanwhile, Andrew Fung has shared that owner and chef Larry Stewart and his wife Melinda will be over at the Terwillegar branch of XIX Nineteen for two Hardware Grill pop-up dinners, three condensed courses of Larry’s most memorable dishes through the years. They take place on Sunday, Nov. 3 and Monday, Nov. 4; tickets are $145 per person, available by calling XIX Nineteen, 780-395-1119.
Craft & Cork
Halloween is fast approaching, so why not check out one of the spookiest spots in town?
No, we’re not taking about Deadmonton, we’re referring to the Craft & Cork, the new food and craft beer spot now occupying the spot at 10314 Whyte Ave. where the Elephant & Castle once stood. We call it spooky for two reasons: number one, there’s a horror theme to the menu, which promises Edmonton-based craft beers, locally sourced food ingredients, and offerings from local distilleries, but also because that spot is clearly cursed, with nothing seeming to do well in it these past few years.
“We’ve reached out to a local expert for help, as we’ve been hearing odd creaking and sometimes even footsteps on the second floor,” says co-founder Geordie Williams, tongue planted firmly in cheek. “We will hopefully have the curse lifted soon, if that’s even possible.”