River resto returns to frozen Forks for 10th anniversary

RAW:almond features extra-hot lineup of chefs for chilly culinary event


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After three years on ice, RAW:almond is set to return to Winnipeg’s frozen waterways this winter.

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After three years on ice, RAW:almond is set to return to Winnipeg’s frozen waterways this winter.

The 10th anniversary of the fine-dining pop-up restaurant created by Deer + Almond chef Mandel Hitzer and local designer Joe Kalturnyk will take place Jan. 26 to Feb. 18 at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine rivers.

Hitzer can’t wait to get back into a frosty kitchen for the first time since 2019.

“I can’t even put it into words,” he says. “As somebody who grew up in Winnipeg and has been cooking here for 26 years, one of the biggest honours of my life is the opportunity to put on, in my opinion, the largest and most incredible food event in North America.”

RAW:almond is a unique concept that sees a temporary restaurant erected on the frozen waterways at The Forks. (Jacqueline Young photo)

The 22-day event features a lineup of 20 renowned local and North American chefs, including Michelin Star recipient Joël Watanabe of Vancouver’s Kissa Tanto restaurant and Gus Stieffenhofer-Brandson, the Winnipeg-born chef behind Published on Main, which topped this year’s Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants list.

For Hitzer, RAW:almond is a chance to host a culinary exchange with heavy-hitting chefs from across the continent while highlighting homegrown talent, including former and current Deer + Almond staffers Kris Kurus, Emily Butcher (Nola) and Stefan Lytwyn (Hoagie Boyz).

“It’s like a reunion tour,” he says. “They have been on the back end giving me support and doing whatever it took to lift many RAW:almonds of the past off the ground.”

The team will be keeping a close eye on ice formation at The Forks over the next few months — the event has only been forced ashore once thus far due to poor conditions.

Hardy diners flock to RAW:almond, the winter pop-up restaurant created by chef Mandel Hitzer and designer Joe Kalturnyk. (Jacqueline Young photo)

Kalturnyk has drawn inspiration from the work of famed francophone architect Étienne Gaboury, who died in October, for this year’s structure. The temporary restaurant will also include design elements from past pop-ups to mark the anniversary year.

Tickets for dinner are $225 per seat and can be purchased in person at 8 a.m. in the south aisle of The Forks Market on Sunday, Dec. 11. Remaining tickets will be available online the following day.

This year, instead of running a full-scale brunch service, Hitzer is collaborating with Cloe Wiebe, of local micro-bakery Crumb Queen, to offer pastries and drinks during the day.

“Anybody who wants to (can) skate up, walk up and come in to get a hot beverage, enjoy the space, soak it up and continue on their way,” he says. “We just really want to make it accessible.”

Visit raw-almond.com for more information.


Twitter: @evawasney

Eva Wasney

Eva Wasney
Arts Reporter

Eva Wasney is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.


Updated on Friday, December 2, 2022 5:34 PM CST: Corrects Joe Kalturnyk's professional title

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