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Chef Talk

Hot Dining: Pretty Patisserie

Photo by Ian McCausland

Photo by Ian McCausland

Sweet delicacies are having a moment in the sun, but for Nathalie Gautier and her husband Gilles, Instagram-worthy desserts are not a fleeting trend but a representation of years of hard work spent mastering time honoured techniques. At bustling Main Street bakery, A L’Epi de Ble, these French ex-pats bring a slice of Provence to the prairies. Loaves are made with the traditional process—no preservatives, dairy, or gelatin, and never shortening—and the pastry case holds treasures like colourful macarons and eclairs stuffed with rich pastry cream. With her broad smile and lilting French accent, Nathalie herself is part of this cozy nook’s charm. 1757 Main St, 204‑334‑2526

Hot Dining: French Twist

Photo by Ian McCausland.

Photo by Ian McCausland.

It has been a long journey leading chef Cam Tran of Café Ce Soir to his petit Portage Avenue bistro. A child of Vietnamese immigrants, who escaped their country by boat, Tran began working in kitchens with his father as a teenager. A winding career path eventually led him to move to France to study as a pastry chef at the Michelin starred Gastronomicom near Montpellier. Today, in his welcoming 23-seat café, chef Cam whips up marvelous pastry creations, crème brûlées infused with flavour, and classic French cuisine. A member of the slow food movement, this passionate chef makes everything from scratch in the kitchen with local ingredients. 937 Portage Ave, 204‑414‑7647, cafecesoir.ca

Hot Dining: Crowd Pleasing

Photo by Ian McCausland

Photo by Ian McCausland

The RBC Convention Centre relies on organized efficiency. With a recent expansion having almost doubled the building in size, the food service team behind the scenes is busier than ever. For Executive Chef Quentin Harty, this means menu prep, purchasing, building relationships with suppliers, quality control, meeting with clients, and managing 85-90 staff. With hundreds, even thousands, of plates leaving the kitchen under his supervision, Harty must be sure his crack team is operating at full capacity. The seasoned chef enjoys the impact of cooking for a crowd: “whatever you can serve one person, you can deliver to hundreds.” 375 York Ave, 204‑956‑1720, wcc.mb.ca

Hot Dining: Flipping Burgers

Photo by Ian McCausland

Photo by Ian McCausland

The team behind slick spot Nuburger has given fast food a gourmet makeover, with dressed-up beef, chicken, bison, and veggie patties boasting wild toppings like house made boursin cheese and blueberry barbeque sauce. Committing to local sourcing, choosing to make everything in house, and ensuring all napkins and take out containers are compostable has set this burger joint apart. By working towards a greener, healthier, tastier world, Nuburger proves that the humble hamburger just might be the ultimate superfood. 472 Stradbrook Ave, 204-888-1001; 1-1650 Kenaston Blvd, 204‑615-2009, ilovenuburger.com

Hot Dining: Expertly Crafted

Chef Sean McKay by David Lipnowski

Chef Sean McKay by David Lipnowski

In his heritage enclave in the city’s theatre district, The Mitchell Block chef/owner Sean McKay is creating incredible culinary concoctions. Beneath a gentle, warm demeanor, rock solid ambition drives this young chef. His considerable kitchen prowess asserts itself in scratch made components: charcuterie boards loaded with meats, mousses, pâtés, terrines and gastronomic touches like shaved preserved egg yolks that add depth to traditional dishes. 173 McDermot Ave, 204‑949‑9032

Hot Dining: Eat Glocal

Chef Hu Guoguang, owner Tony Chow, and chef Pan Yewen. Photo by Ian McCausland.

Chef Hu Guoguang, owner Tony Chow, and chef Pan Yewen. Photo by Ian McCausland.

Like many first and second generation immigrants, owner Tony Chow of North Garden Restaurant has incorporated Manitoba ingredients into traditional recipes. The result is serendipitous Canadian-Chinese fusion food. During pickerel season, the local lakefish is simmered in a light and fresh watercress soup, stir fried with gaai laan, and bathed in rich chile oil. For North Garden’s customers, each meal is both familiar comfort and culinary adventure, often within a single menu page. 6-33 University Cres, 204‑275‑2591

Hot Dining: Go Big or Go Home

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Chef Bill Georgakopoulos of Rae & Jerry’s. Photo by Ian McCausland.

At Rae & Jerry’s, the philosophy has always been “more is more.” With 330 seats in the dining room and lounge, the behemoth steakhouse serves up 200-300 pounds of beef daily, all butchered by chef Bill Georgakopoulos. The restaurant has been a perennial pick for stately steak dinners since 1957, famous for its generously loaded sandwiches, prime cuts of cow, and iconic red décor. This bastion of old school eating has proved the value of finding what works and sticking to it. 1405 Portage Ave, 204‑788‑6155, raeandjerrys.com

Chef Talk: Norm Pastorin

Chef Norm Pastorin of The Cornerstone. Photo by Ian McCausland.

Chef Norm Pastorin of The Cornerstone. Photo by Ian McCausland.

COMMON GROUND

At The Cornerstone, a pillar of bustling Osborne Village, the cozy neighbourhood setting acts as backdrop to consistently high calibre cooking. Chef Norm Pastorin is the mastermind at work in the open kitchen, blending flavour profiles and techniques that span the globe to create adventurous yet comforting fare. Drawing on his childhood experiences at pot lucks with his large Filipino family, as well as time spent in France and classical culinary training, chef Norm has found the perfect balance of fusion and familiar. Everyone from Village regulars to after-hours chefs can be found in this dining room, making memories with a glass of wine and a soulful plate of food. 93 Osborne St, thecornerstonewpg.ca

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