So where are we on my ever growing list? There is Bertrand with his pulled pork sandwich, Sheldon who is likely going to win Top Chef and fiercely opinionated Isaac. Little did I know I would land in Winnipeg and discover one great crush after another.
Chef Ben Kramer
I dedicated an entire post last week about him, he is transforming the food program at the University of Winnipeg provoking many to call him the Jamie Oliver of Winnipeg. Don’t worry you don’t need to go to the school cafeteria to eat his food, he participates in many one-off events and I was lucky to eat his food at the River Pop Up.
Chef Scott Bagshaw
If you could only eat at one restaurant in Winnipeg it would have to be Deseo. I cannot rave enough about his food and his girlfriend serves excellent wine pairings. If you get a chance definitely have a chat with him, a bit quirky but definitely entertaining. When I told him I wanted to take his photo he ran to grab a bottle of alcohol to hold. Adorable and weird but the food was amazing.
We asked for Chef Bagshaw to choose the meal and it’s a wise move. My favourites were the sweetbreads and veal cheeks. Chef Kramer recommended the gnocchi with black garlic and black boar bacon and he was right – although you can’t really go wrong with black garlic or bacon, right?
Chef Chef Alexander Svenne
Of this group of chefs he was one of the first to realize that Winnipeg had fine dining and burger joints but nothing in between. Bistro 7 ¼ is a fantastic place to grab a drink and have really good food. He also runs the kitchen for the Winnipeg Folk Festival, an amazing summer music festival in the city.
Again we let him pick the dishes and I will be honest I’m not entirely keen on eating mussels when I’m not near an ocean but the food was fantastic. I’d say skip the mussels and go for the smoked meat board, pulled pork sliders or smoked duck tartine with foie gras mousse pickled zucchini and red wine pear.
Chef Mandel Hitzer
The man behind the Raw: Almond River Pop Up, unfortunately he wasn’t there the night we ate at Deer + Almond as he was cooking on the frozen river. I did speak to him at the pop-up and he is unnervingly honest, unlike some arrogant chefs he tells us that he was lucky and fell into things. Given the number of interesting events he has been running I am not sure that is true but his modesty is refreshing.
He has a really interesting menu the varies from soba noodles to pork belly. My favourites were the brussel sprouts with blue cheese, incredibly tender venison and a semifreddo dessert that I swore I would only take one bite of because “I don’t like dessert” but then I ate half of it. I also like how the restaurant doesn’t take itself too seriously, on the drinks menu you can order a mystery can of beer – which is literally a tall tin of beer that changes every night.
And just like that I doubled my chef crush list, this could be a dangerous year, especially as I head next to Finland.