The Exchange District is home to a unique pop-up dinner concept this month with Ishkode, a dining experience celebrating Indigenous cuisine. Five seatings will be offered from Oct. 22 to 26 at the Cloakroom, 200-70 Albert St.
Ishkode (which means "fire" in Anishinaabe) features four Indigenous chefs, including Melissa Urban Brownee, Steve Watson and Glenna (Cookum Daisy) Henderson, who will present a seven-course meal based on the theme of "pre-colonization."
Co-organizer Noel Bernier explains the inspiration behind the pop-up.
"As a restaurateur, my friends and I have been very excited about the Indigenous cuisine offerings that have been growing across the country, whether it’s Feast here in Winnipeg or NishDish in Toronto or Salmon n’ Bannock in Vancouver," says the Hermanos owner, who is Métis. "But they all have a common theme in that they’re comfort food, café-style offerings."
Bernier notes that there’s a huge appetite — pun intended — especially from the tourist market, for higher-end menus featuring dishes based on Indigenous traditions.
"What is modern Indigenous cuisine? That’s the question that we asked ourselves," he says. "It should be done by Indigenous chefs, but that doesn’t happen often, because the community is poorer and doesn’t have the kind of money floating around in it to invest in high-risk fine-dining restaurants."
He and his co-organizers — Kyra Wilson, Dwayne Bird and Josh Giesbrecht — came up with an idea that they hope will turn into a regular event.
"Why not do a pop-up that could showcase as many Indigenous chefs as possible?" Bernier says. "So it’s not married to an idea or a single food or single purpose. But Ishkode serves the purpose of exposing Indigenous chefs either working in the community now or in the broader culinary community of Winnipeg, and giving them a platform to do what they would see as modern Indigenous cuisine.
"The challenge we’ve given to our chefs, because it is a creative event, the theme we’ve given them is pre-colonization. Their goal is that food that they’re going to portray from their Indigenous lens and also from their culinary lens has to be influenced by the time before European colonization.
"It’s an important time in the food aspect of things because so much of what we recognize as Indigenous foods actually came along after colonization. No. 1 would be bannock, which was a flour-provision bread."
This doesn’t mean you’ll be dining exactly like it’s 1499, however.
"Chef Steve Watson put it best, when he said his job is to think about how would Indigenous food have evolved into the last 200 or 300 years without colonization."
Ishkode incorporates Indigenous cuisine with traditional plants and medicines and wild game that have fed First Nations’ families for generations. There’s also a learning component to the event; Wilson, a social worker and Long Plain First Nation member, will give attendees some cultural background and information on food sovereignty.
The event will also showcase artwork from Indigenous artists Bird and Nicole Leclair.
Visit ishkode.ca for more information. Tickets are $99 for dinner, $149 with wine/beer pairing. To purchase, visit wfp.to/ishkode.
The long-awaited vegan addition to the Sherbrook strip has finally opened its doors, serving up meat-free meals in the space formerly home to Khao House.
Roughage Eatery — run by married couple Jessie Hodel and Candice Tonelete — held its grand opening on Sept. 14, after a couple of years of operating the business as a catering company, with frequent appearances at farmers markets and pop-up dinners.
The short menu at the West Broadway eatery features chef Hodel’s ingenious dairy-free "cheezes" and meat-free deli slices (you can even get a charcuterie board with two nut cheeses, two "meats" and a selection of breads, fruit and nuts for $25).
Other options include pizza subs, sandwiches, burrito bowls, mac and cheeze, and hearty salads.
Roughage is located at 126 Sherbrook St. It’s open Tuesday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m.; it’s closed Sunday and Monday.
There’s something rotten in the state of Winnipeg — but that’s a good thing.
City chefs Anna Sigrithur and Nathan Enns, who have presented many pop-ups under the Clandess Diner moniker, are presenting the Wroughtten Feast, a pop-up dinner focused on fermented foods and microbial transformations.
The six-course menu includes such unusual items as "filet mignon cooked in a compost pile" and "potatoes buried in steaming forest leaves," but diners need not worry about illness.
"Have no fear: though the line between what is rotten and fermented is subjective, no actual rotten food will be served!" explains the event’s website.
"The multi-sensory dining experience playfully evokes sensuous elements of decay, such as the aroma of leaves on a forest floor."
Sigrithur interned at the Nordic Food Lab in Copenhagen, the non-profit culinary institute established by René Redzepi, the chef of Michelin-starred restaurant Noma. The lab explores scientific and humanistic approaches to world cuisines via a research team that includes chefs, anthropologists and chemists, with a strong focus on fermentation and transforming food.
Wroughtten Feast takes place Oct. 17-19 at Ralph Brown Community Centre, 520 Machray Ave., at 7 p.m. Tickets for dinner are $75, or $110 with natural wine pairings from Elevage Selections; they’re available at wroughttenfeast.bpt.me.
The proceeds will go toward commissioning Winnipeg-born composer Randolph Peters to create a musical score for Wrought, an animated film celebrating the beauty of decay, written by Sigrithur and featuring time-lapse photography by Joel Penner.
Don’t let the colder weather stop you from trying the latest Instagram-friendly ice-treat trend to arrive in Winnipeg: Popbar, an American chain that just opened its first local franchise, run by manager Kim Vo, in River Heights at 540 Academy Rd. three weeks ago.
Popbar dishes up gelato, sorbet and frozen yogurt on a stick; picture a rainbow of handcrafted flavours to choose from, served like a Popsicle (with a handy cardboard drip-guard) and then turned into a work of art via various dipping sauces, sprinkles and toppings.
The selection includes more than 50 flavours — from regular old chocolate and vanilla to passion fruit, green tea, bubble gum and birthday cake — and customizable toppings such as dark, milk, and white chocolate, nuts, sprinkles, waffle cone, caramel corn and more.
Founded in New York City in 2010, the chain has locations in several American states, as well as Singapore, Portugal and British Columbia. It offers vegan selections (like the ultra-fruity sorbetto fruit bars) and the bars are made on-site from natural ingredients.
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Jill Wilson writes about culture and the culinary arts for the Arts & Life section.
Updated on Thursday, October 10, 2019 at 10:38 AM CDT: Fixes typo