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Winnipeg foodies unite!

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Ian Martens hopes to highlight Winnipeg’s restaurant scene.

With more intriguing cuisine popping up citywide, the North Kildonan resident was inspired to start Winnipeg Foodies, a group that met for the first time at Westwood’s Gasthaus Gutenberger on March 10. The group’s second meeting will take place at East India Company downtown on March 21.

"I think that Winnipeg is one of the most diverse cities for its food, as we have so many different cultures and different people in Manitoba," said Martens, who lists Jake’s Crawfish in Portland, Ore. as his best-ever dining experience. "We have so many amazing restaurants, it just seemed like the right fit for this city."

In addition to enjoying a wide variety of quality food, Martens hopes to foster a sense of community. He said of the over 30 people who have joined the online group at http://www.meetup.com/Winnipeg-Foodies, there is a diversity of ages, diets, and ethnicities, which he expects to make for interesting conversation around the table.

"One of the biggest challenges for people trying out restaurants is if they have to go by themselves – nobody likes to go by themselves," he said. "Food is supposed to be a social experience, so my vision is to give people the opportunity to go with a group of people to try places they haven’t tried before – and push some people’s culinary boundaries."

Martens said even though he founded the group, he hopes the members all work together to keep it going, pitching in suggestions for restaurants and organizing meals.

"Somebody suggested Gasthaus Gutenberger and I was ‘Yeah, right on’, because I’ve never been there and it sounds like a lot of other people haven’t been there," said Martens, who is the education program co-ordinator for the Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties.

"What I’d prefer is if the people who are in (the group) just made a list and we just went from there."

Martens hopes to keep meetups at around 10 people, but said if the group grows, meetups can happen more often.

Four, including Martens, attended the first meetup on March 10. Among them was Aubrey Clark, who was enthusiastic about the group’s potential.

"It’s helps you find hidden gems within the city," she said. "I didn’t even know this place (Gasthaus Gutenberger) was here."

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