Image: Xandra Photography
Some of Manitoba's best foodies paint a picture of Manitoba's cuisine — and it's reason enough to visit the prairie province this summer.
Manitobans are known for being proud, hardy and friendly, but they're also innovative and creative—especially the chefs who create the province's vibrant food scene with the freshest local ingredients. Here, four Manitoba chefs and one baker share everything from their favourite summer traditions to the most popular dishes at their restaurants, because there's no better way to explore Manitoba's food than through the people who create it.
Owner/chef of deer + almond (A downtown resto with home-style cooking and global influences)
Image: Ian McCausland
On Manitoba pride: "Manitoba is home. It's where I grew up. It's the best-kept secret in Canada and it's my favourite place to live."
On deer + almond's most popular dish: "Our smoked Manitoba goldeye with herb gnocchi, whitefish roe and dill has been a huge hit on the menu. I grew up with strong European influences and I think for many people that are second- and third-generation Manitobans, the dish reminds them of something their grandparents would've cooked."
On worldwide inspiration: "This past year, I travelled to Tokyo and the trip reinforced my love of Asian cuisine. Right now, I'm serving linguine with mushroom butter garnished with tamago and furikake. I've always had a strong love of flavours from around the world and that dish symbolizes not only the journey I've taken through food, but also my passion for cooking."
On summer traditions: "Fishing to me is like a religion. It's been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and it's something that brings my family together. It was a time where my elders passed down wisdom to the younger generations. Also, there is nothing more rewarding than feeding yourself from the land."
Owner/chef of Feast Café Bistro (A cozy café that puts a modern twist on indigenous food and ingredients)
Image: Ian McCausland
On Manitoba pride: "We endure and persevere through long, harsh winters, hot summers and everything in between—all with a smile because there is so much to appreciate, from the people to the land, waters and sky."
On Feast's most popular dish: "Our Roasted Squash Bannock Pizza with toasted pine nuts, maple chipotle lime drizzle and Bothwell cheddar (plus Manitoba bison sausage!) has become a favourite. I think squash (one of the three sisters from my native culture along with beans and corn) is one of the most versatile and underused superfoods in the world."
On her garden: "I have a large garden at home and growing squashes has been my experiment. They grow so well here in Manitoba and when you have so many of them you must get creative—hence my Squash Bannock Pizza. It was a fluke!"
On quintessentially Manitoban ingredients: "My favourites are the three sisters, of course: beans, corn and squash. There are so many variations to choose from and you can freeze, can, pickle and create so many healthy dishes from them. Then there are Saskatoon berries, fish like pickerel, wild game, wild rice, grains, honey… and the list goes on."
Chef of The Dock on Princess (A small-town pub with fresh fare and a welcoming spirit)
Image: Colin Corneau
On Manitoba pride: "I moved to Manitoba from northeast England at age fifteen and I'm proud to reside here because of how welcomed I've been made to feel. Manitoba is culturally diverse and it's incredible to have so many different walks of life and ways of thinking to learn from and embrace."
On the Manitoba food scene: "Using fresh local ingredients whenever possible has taken off the last few years. We have the pleasure of sourcing and using these ingredients on our regular and feature menus and they have been hugely successful."
On The Dock on Princess's most popular dish: "It's our signature Dock Burger. As simplistic as burgers can be, each component has to work together to create something extraordinary. From our handmade patties, Guinness BBQ sauce, hand-breaded thick-cut coconut onion rings and aged Guinness cheddar from Ireland, to our locally baked Kaiser buns, this burger has it all."
On favourite local foods: "Tamarack Farms in Erickson grows fantastic quinoa and the baking that comes from Kuiper's Family Bakery here in Brandon is second to none. We are also lucky to have some amazing butchers like Henry Meats and Obermaier's Sausage & Meats. There is a level of pride in the prairies that pushes all of us to take whatever we do and strive to make it the best possible."
Chef of Clementine (A brunch hotspot with artisanal creations)
Image: Xandra Photography
On the Manitoba food scene: "What makes the Manitoba food scene unique is the community of chefs, cooks and restaurant people. It's an incredibly strong and supportive community."
On Clementine's most popular dish: "Our most popular dish is the Braised Bacon Eggs Benedict. It's by far the highest seller. It's our take on a classic bacon-and-eggs breakfast. We braise whole slabs of bacon overnight, then sear the bacon and serve it on black pepper biscuits topped with apple cider hollandaise."
On recipe creation: "Our Burger Dip represents the way we like to create our dishes. We take a collaborative approach and spend a lot of time discussing and testing and both front and back of house are encouraged to give honest feedback. The Burger Dip came about through a few months of discussion and a lot of trial and error."
On favourite summer memories: "Having grown up in Saskatchewan, my summers were spent here in Manitoba with my mother's and father's parents. Each set of grandparents had an incredible garden with tomatoes and cucumbers. Every year when Clementine starts to receive tomatoes and cucumbers from Greenland Gardens in Ste. Anne, I'm reminded of summer in Manitoba."
Co-owner/baker of Hildegard's Bakery (A family bakery known for ancient grain bread and wood-fired pizza)
Image: Susan Dietz
On Manitoba pride: "The Manitobans I know are pretty great: friendly, hardworking and humble. I'm proud that diversity is celebrated here and that people seem open to trying new things."
On Hildegard Bakery's most popular item: "It's the Prairie Sourdough, which is made with a blend of organic spelt, rye and white flour. Our Apple-Rhubarb muffin has also been a hit."
On the history of their breads: "We keep three different sourdough starters going that we use in most of our breads. Each one has its own history. One has been passed down from our predecessors (and parents!) at Integrity Foods. A second was split off of that first one but is kept much stiffer than the others. A third came to us years ago in an envelope from Oregon. There's a family there that shares their 150-year-old sourdough with anyone who asks."
On favourite local foods: "The first that come to mind are sunflower seeds, farmer sausage and rhubarb. Ronnie's Original Jumbo Seeds supplies us with our Manitoba sunflower seeds. Our "Menno Pizza," (a reference to Manitoba's Mennonite heritage), features farmer sausage from the fine people at Spring Creek Farm. And we're looking forward to fresh rhubarb popping up in our backyards."
For more Manitoba recommendations and experiences to savour, visit exploremb.ca today.