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The NextGen of Restaurants | NextGen Speaks Out on Food


“We as a society and as an economy need to start optimizing for a large number of small things, not just relying on a small number of large things.”

– Woody Tasch, Founder of Slow Money Alliance.

 

This quote would resonate with most people who are thinking about the next generation. So then, what is the direction of restaurants in this next generation going to be? Are we happy eating at any establishment that is not a chain, a ‘large thing’? I think we can do better than that. I like this quote mainly because of the word ‘optimizing’ and I will explain myself.

 

Chef Chad Moss

Chef Chad Moss decorating his dessert pizza with Cointreu flavored chocolate ganache, during his Pizza club event

 

While the global landscape of food needs is not always similar to the local food or ‘slow food’ revolution,

being conscious about how we treat our locale is one strong direction away from the previous generation.

This choice is further enhanced by the great public interest in Edmonton. Farmers markets are opening everywhere, people are growing fruits, vegetables and herbs in their backyards, the food truck revolution persists its passion with local ingredients featuring often on their menus, and many new restaurants are trying to use as much local ingredients as they can.

 

Breakfast from the Harvest Cafe

Two eggs breakfast with a side of roasted veggies at the Harvest Café in the Old Strathcona Farmers market

 

For me, personally, local-sourced or 100-mile eateries will play a big role in the next generation of restaurants. These restaurants will ‘optimize’ for us a large number of small things on to one plate.

This is an informed lifestyle choice I have made thanks to the enormous wealth of information there is out there, both for and against it.

(Here’s a link to some local food resources recommended by Slow Food Edmonton)

 

Farm to Table

Pheasant with polenta cakes. One of the courses in Chef Blair's farm-to-table dinner at Chai Pani on Whyte, this spring

 

While it’s a certainty that Edmontonians love to spend money on food in restaurants, what would be great is if we could spend all that money in restaurants that actually help the local economies of our neighboring communities. In the following, I list a few restaurants that I fancy and that do their bit in trying to adhere to local ingredients. This list by no means is exhaustive.

 

  • Chef Blair Lebsack’s farm-to-table dinner is a must for anyone interested in a 100% local-sourced dining. I cannot wait to attend his farm dinner at Nature’s Green Acres where he will be sourcing all his meat and vegetables right from the farm where we will be dining.
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  • Chef Brittany Watt runs the Harvest Café at the Old Strathcona Farmers Market where she serves regular old breakfast, coffee and other concession stand items but with over 90% locally sourced ingredients, all from within vendors in the market itself. She also has market dinners – a prix fixe dinner at the Old Strathcona market on an off night, where she provides 4-5 course meals all locally sourced. Her last dinner was a vegetarian dinner, for those closet vegetarians out there!
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  • Three Boars has revealed a near-100% local menu in a near-100% bar atmosphere. This seems to be the first of its kind. Moreover, a quick read at their small plates menu will make you realize how much can be done with local ingredients, with names such as ‘Alberta Wild Boar rillettes’, ‘Pembina Valley Pork shoulder’ and so on. The last time I was there they were on their 43rd menu, having been open for just 60 days!
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  • The Culina Family as a whole strives to be local. Do yourself a favor and try the tasting plate at Culina Mill Creek. I remember being wowed by their white bean hummus where they use Albertan beans instead of garbanzo.
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  • Prairie Bistro explicitly believes in localness and an appreciation for Alberta to be their primary interest. They also hosted the Slow Food Fundraising Gala where they had well known chefs from Edmonton join them in preparing a delicious 8-course meal for over 100 diners. Unfortunately, I’m yet to eat there – want to join me for dinner some time?
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  • Chefs Chad and Jeff started the Pizza club, a.k.a., New Level Pizza with the idea of serving pizzas throughout the night, made using local ingredients and toppings such as locally caught and prepared duck confit etc. The night ends with a dessert pizza and those pizzas are really very delicious!
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    Cornbread Madeleines

    Cornbread madeleine’s with Saskatoon berry jam at Three Boars

     

    (Here’s a link to some restaurants that support local food suggested by Live Local )

     

    In conclusion,

    I am hoping to drive the point that whatever lifestyle you choose, is one that is chosen in an informed manner.

    The Internet age we live in defines our personality by our tastes, choices and knowledge about them. It is crucial, I think, for us to be informed about what we like and do. Read, make a choice; whether it is veganism, raw food, gluten free food, local food or even deciding to stick with your current lifestyle. Make it a decision.

     

    Why is this my personal choice? I think if every restaurant starts serving local ingredients in this food-loving city, we are going to have a real revolution: one where local produce is affordable for more people and where as a city we live and breathe in symbiosis with everything around us. The city as a whole will function towards ‘optimizing’ a large number of small things for us. Isn’t that a sweet dream?

     

     

    Bio:
    Aditya Raghavan

     

    Aditya (A.K.A BigAddie) is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alberta. He moved to Edmonton three years ago and has grown fond of the local food scene here. Currently, he is also the secretary of Slow Food Edmonton. His passion lies in advancing the slow food lifestyle and making it a more viable option for a larger demographic. His culinary hobbies lie in vegetarian cooking, baking breads and artisanal cheese making.

     

    You can connect with him on Twitter @BigAddie

     

    Disclaimer
    NextGen Speaks Out, our guest blogging series, is envisioned as a hub for information and discussion. NextGen is a non-political, non-denominational organization focused on giving all nextgeners a voice. NextGen does not represent the opinions expressed by the individual columnists.