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Is Winnipeg the next culinary travel destination?


Pam R
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Pam,

Experience in Vancouver suggested that a little eGullet media attention and a themed but informal wine and canapes evening can really spread the word to recruit people to the site who are interested in food. With a minimum of fuss, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at the level of interest in return for a modest donation to the Society.

Jamie

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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  • 3 weeks later...

Interesting topic...funny that I was drawn to logging on for the first time in about 6 months - and there's Rona encouraging everyone to PM me! And...sigh...not even one PM. *chuckling*

The problem in Winnipeg with trying to establish a cohesive plan and program for culinary tourism is largely politically based. The professional culinary community is not large and is, sadly, highly fragmented. There is far too much self-interest and not enough big-picture vision. The Restaurant Association has been a joke - rife with corruption and internal politics; The Chefs' Association is a bit cliquey and while it has noble intentions, is rather ineffective in promoting anything culinary other than its own narrowly based and parochial initiatives. Publications such as "Ciao", "Connoisseur" and "Style" cannot do it on their own. After all, they ARE all about selling advertising and I'm sure they would lack the resources to mount an effective campaign.

Having said that, I am a shameless promoter of the Winnipeg culinary scene. Being a foodie who has travelled extensively and experienced the cooking of The French Laundry, Tetsuya's, The Fat Duck and many others, I can vouch for the world-class quality and passion of Winnipeg's food community, both amateur and professional. So, how do we introduce this to the world? At least, the finite world that might hop on a plane from Chicago, Toronto, Minneapolis or Thunder Bay for the express purpose of coming to Winnipeg to eat, drink and perhaps be pampered in one of our great new spas.

Due to a lack of confident critical mass, however, I believe this "cause" needs to be taken up by an entity or entities with social and civic responsibility. Of course, we can always look to the tourism branches of both the Civic or Provincial governments, but there needs to be more. If the media could put their advertising order-books away for just a moment, perhaps a coalition of media-types along with enthusiastic and well-connected non-media individuals could be the answer. For example, the bright young new Publisher of the Winnipeg Free Press, Andy Ritchie, has just arrived from a stint at the Globe & Mail and is gung-ho to put Winnipeg on the map. It doesn't hurt that he's an avid foodie and wine lover, either. Perhaps he and his key staff could organize a team to spearhead this initiative. In the end, a successful program means more business for all, and that's when their order-books can come back out and the natural cycle of cause and effect in a free market economy will repay them in spades.

In the end, it's all about vision, isn't it? Being able to believe that this is a cause to be taken up for greater good and that resultant benefits will accrue in many corners. Who has that vision? Who has the ear of the people and the politicians? Who can pull a crackerjack team together that represents the true mosaic of the city?

Andy Ritchie...this job's for you.

's'about the wine...or the food, no - the wine...maybe the food...definitely the wine...but it has to be the food...oh, stop whining! Aarrghh!!!

Winefellow - Proprietor, Kenaston Wine Market. Winnipeg, Canada

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Interesting topic...funny that I was drawn to logging on for the first time in about 6 months - and there's Rona encouraging everyone to PM me!  And...sigh...not even one PM.  *chuckling*

Welcome back and I hope we hear more from you on topics like this.

I also agree that somebody - Andy Ritchie? sure, why not - needs to spearhead this. He has the staff - and the paper. Contacts outside of the city too. Have to get the word out beyond the perimeter.

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It's a dead cinch. Find a project that everyone can invest in - it's outlined upthread on Post #20. Be inclusive but set high standards, at both the CFD and FD levels. Exert leadership. Make the calls.

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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Interesting topic...funny that I was drawn to logging on for the first time in about 6 months - and there's Rona encouraging everyone to PM me!  And...sigh...not even one PM.  *chuckling*

And I even gave all those hints about who you were! Humph!

Does Andy Ritchie read eGullet? :biggrin:

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Earlier in the thread there was mention about what economic demographic should be targeted. There was some consensus that the promotion of Winnipeg culinary delights shouldn't be aimed too high. While this is a subject worthy of consideration it should not be the focus or limiting factor in creating a message. The 'peg scene should be inclusive and wide open. Let there me something for everyone. Don't dilute the product by going too low brow. The fact is: culinary tourism is seldom the domain of Joe and Mary Sixpack. You need some of that upper crust to build a loaf.

You can quote me on that.

Bradley Cooper

You should be reading my blog!

WINE & VINE BC

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Earlier in the thread there was mention about what economic demographic should be targeted.  There was some consensus that the promotion of Winnipeg culinary delights shouldn't be aimed too high.  While this is a subject worthy of consideration it should not be the focus or limiting factor in creating a message.  The 'peg scene should be inclusive and wide open.  Let there me something for everyone.  Don't dilute the product by going too low brow.  The fact is: culinary tourism is seldom the domain of Joe and Mary Sixpack.  You need some of that upper crust to build a loaf.

You can quote me on that.

I could be wrong (that never happens!) - but I don't think the point was to target a lower demographic and keep things low brow. I think it's more the point that we have such a great assortment of ethnic, relatively inexpensive restaurants already, it makes sense to build on that.

No reason that it couldn't be a mix of high end and ethnic eateries that already exist.

As for the Joe and Mary sixpack... Winnipeg already gets the American university kids coming up here for drinking and partying... no need to advertise to them. :wink:

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I live in the Brandon area. We often go to Winnipeg on weekends. There is a magazine/restaurant guide called "Taste" that one can pick up from the airport/hotels etc. It lists most of the nicer restaurants in Winnipeg.

Winnipeg is not a great culinery city. It is not on par with Toronto or Vancouver, let alone the true culinery destinations like Paris, London, or New York. There is no restaurant in Winnipeg that will get a star in the Michelin or more than 2 stars in the New York Times. And Winnipeg does NOT do ethnic well. We had dim sum at Kum Koon garden this weekend, which is highly recommended by locals, and it was a horrible meal. The food was bad, and worse it was cold. Cities like Ottawa and Montreal, with similiar size Chinatowns as Winnipeg, have much better dim sums. Most (if not all) East Indian restaurants are buffets. We went to the East Inda Company restaurant, again because it is recommended by locals, and left because it is a buffet. Fresh sushi is non existant. There are some honest, young chefs, running small restaurants and making contemporary French/fusion type cusine, but these are the exceptions rather than the rule.

Worse, I don't think that the city takes its produce very seriously. The Market at the Forks is a big joke, a tourist trap, and in essence a very large food court. There was ONE fish monger that doubles as a fish and chip store. The only fish on display is a filleted piece of salmon and several boxes of frozen shrimps. I am not making this up. There is no butcher. The only grocer/produce seller offers a selection that one can find in any large chain grocery store.

So lets be realistic. While Winnipeg is definitely the place to be if one lives in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and North Dakota. It is not a culinery destination and it will never be one.

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Middle of Nowhere - welcome to eGullet! It's always nice to get some new thoughts and opinions.

You made several interesting points in your post - some of which I agree with, some I don't. Some of them I think have been or can be discussed in other threads.

Let's discuss Dim Sum over here.

Going to the Forks to buy produce (or anything else)? I wouldn't do it - I think it's really a tourist trap and don't know any locals who actually shop there. But there are some great produce suggestions over here. The only times I've been to the Forks area in the last couple of years was to visit MTYP or CityTV - never to buy foodstuff.

You may want to take a look and comment on this prairie thread. There are several others in the forum you may find interesting.

I agree that Winnipeg is no NY or Paris but I think it has a lot to offer. I don't expect any Michelin stars to be appearing around here anytime soon - but I don't think it means we're in a culinary wasteland. Don't forget - ethnic isn't limited to Chinese and Indian. We have Ukrainian, French, Jewish, Filipino, Thai and so much more.

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Ooohh! Damn self-deprecating Manitobans. Usually based from ignorance rather than fact.

So, "...Winnipeg is not a great culinery (sic) city. It is not on par with Toronto or Vancouver, let alone the true culinery (sic) destinations like Paris, London, or New York..."

Well, I can only agree (somewhat) to the statement that we are not "on par" with the cities mentioned. Well, DUH! Population, wealth demographics and sheer critical mass will always dictate that those markets will have more to offer. In terms of sheer cooking skill, I will argue to the ends of the earth that there is great food to be found in Winnipeg. And, conversely, that lousy food can be found at so-called "great" restaurants in "great" culinary destinations. I was appalled, for example, at the pitiful excuse for a gastronomic feast that I recently had at Gary Danko in San Francisco - and all for the pittance of about USD$250 per person, inclusive of middle-of-the-road wine. And I could relate many more, but I'd prefer to focus upon the good (and great!) that is to be found closer to home.

You were on the right track when you indicated that "There are some honest, young chefs, running small restaurants and making contemporary French/fusion type cusine, but these are the exceptions rather than the rule."

Not only were you on the right track for Winnipeg, but you were also on the right track for Toronto, Vancouver, Paris, London, New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Sydney, to name just a few. There is a lot of lousy food to be found in those cities as well, and - trust me - you don't have to look that hard for it.

So...where have you eaten in Winnipeg? Have you had the glorious gnocchi or succulent lamb at Tre Visi? Have you eaten Chef Gereta's mouth-watering bison ribs at Mise? Have you enjoyed Chef Lorna's take on regional Manitoba cuisine using Manitoba produce at Fusion Grill? How about Makoto Ono's magnificent Japanese/French/Canadian fresh market cooking at Glutton's? Hmmm...I drool thinking about Fern's moules/frites Provençal at In-Ferno's Bistro (for under ten bucks!) and you'd never catch me giving up Chef Bernard's classic French cuisine for Lent (ooh la la the foie gras!) at Mirlycourtois. Mike D'Acquisto's magnificent Prime steaks at 529 are to die for and young Alexander Svenne is packing them in every night with his inventive fresh market cooking at Seven and a quarter on S. Osborne. Try the wood oven pizzas at Bonfire Bistro and find a member-friend to take you to St. Charles Country Club for one of recent Order of Canada inductee Chef Takashi Murakami's "Chef's Table" experiences. And we haven't even touched on the ethnic to speak of...you've clearly had experiences that are outside the norm of the establishments that you've mentioned. I'm sure that a repeat visit would likely change your opinion. This is an abbreviated list, but I hope you get the picture.

As for produce? Well, I agree wholeheartedly that the market at the Forks is a joke...isn't and never really has been good. But, there are other great destinations for great produce. Le Croissant on Tache for French breads, pastries and charcuterie and Lisbon Bakery on Sargent for kick-ass water bread and more. Sun Wah Market in Chinatown for ridiculously inexpensive and uber-fresh Chinese/Oriental veggies. Vic's Produce on Pembina for consistently superior products. Costa Brava on Sargent for sparkling-fresh fish and seafood Wednesdays through Saturdays. DeLuca's on Portage for all things Italian and DeNardi's (The Piazza) on Taylor at Waverley. Once again, this is but a small list...there are many more passionate food-mongers to be found day after day in Winnipeg, and our summer markets at St. Norbert and Assiniboia Downs are fabulous. Add 8 passionate private wine merchants with over 5000 wine selections cumulatively and you get the picture.

There's a story here and it's time we told it. I hope you've enjoyed the prologue.

Buon appetito!

's'about the wine...or the food, no - the wine...maybe the food...definitely the wine...but it has to be the food...oh, stop whining! Aarrghh!!!

Winefellow - Proprietor, Kenaston Wine Market. Winnipeg, Canada

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