I’m not from here. When people ask me why I stay, I typically point to two main reasons.

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This article was published 17/8/2016 (1984 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.


I’m not from here. When people ask me why I stay, I typically point to two main reasons.

First, the music. This is not only a town with an extremely vibrant local music scene, it’s a place where people have the time and space to see and hear some of the best musical artists in the country. Whether it’s a big-name touring act at the MTS Centre, or an up-and-coming performer who was grown right here, this city vibrates with good sounds.

And when I’m not raving about the music, it’s the food. Cuisines from around the world, all given a unique Winnipeg twist. It’s a foodie paradise, available at prices reasonable enough for even the most financially challenged journalists to enjoy.

And I’m not the only one. At the Free Press, we are constantly looking for ways to explore and promote local music and food. Which led us to be struck by a thought: what if we were to combine Winnipeg’s best music with some of its best food in a unique event?

The result is Sunday Brunch Collective, a unique monthly showcase of our best music and food.

To ensure that we’ve got a top-flight brunch, we reached out to renowned local chef Ben Kramer, a culinary master who knows more than a little bit about the blending of food and music.

At the Winnipeg Folk Festival, Kramer takes on the gargantuan task of feeding the musicians and volunteers each summer. He has also been a principal in some of Manitoba’s most important culinary events, including: Raw Almond, the internationally celebrated pop-up restaurant that appears on the frozen waters of the Red River each winter; Table for 1200, the longest dining table ever in Canada; and Grazing in the Field, a five-course dinner Kramer serves on location at a local dairy farm.

"Food to me is so much more than just the ingredients," Kramer said. "What I serve has more to do with the experience of food on the whole."

Although he is booked solidly throughout the year with special events and private catering, Kramer jumped at the opportunity to pair his food with up-and-coming Manitoba musicians. Sunday Brunch Collective will be hosted by the Kitchen Sync culinary events centre on Donald Street in the Exchange District, Kramer’s unofficial headquarters.

"It’s a perfect fit. We’ve got so much great local music and so much great local food. I’m extremely excited about what’s going to come out of this."

On the music side, the Free Press has teamed up with Manitoba Music to feature some of the province’s most dynamic new musical artists. For the food, Kramer will be creating a menu focused heavily on locally sourced and sustainable ingredients.

Sean McManus, executive director of Manitoba Music, said the local music scene is exploding right now, with an increasing roster of talent making inroads into markets around the world. To that end, McManus said the inaugural Sunday Brunch Collective on Sept. 11 will feature Kelly Bado, a bilingual singer-songwriter who was born in Cote d’Ivoire and moved to Winnipeg eight years ago.

Bado’s music is a blend of R&B, soul, pop folk and jazz that often incorporates African rhythms. She is planning to release an EP two weeks after her Sunday Brunch Collective première.

"In Winnipeg, we have all these new artists like Kelly who are really coming into their own," said McManus. "As an industry association, we’re never really worried about whether there will be a next wave of great new artists. This city has such as strong tradition of producing great music and there is no sign of that letting up."

Music is more than just great entertainment, McManus said. It’s also a critical component of the local economy.

Later this fall, Manitoba Music will be releasing the results of a study that shows just how much local music contributes to the economy of Winnipeg. "It’s also a big contributor to the quality of life we enjoy here," McManus said.

The Sunday Brunch Collective builds on a strong Free Press tradition of producing live events to augment our local coverage and create unique content that provides an insight into the people who make this city special. Free Press Associate Editor Sarah Lilleyman (also not from here) said Sunday Brunch Collective will be the first of many live events produced by the newspaper and offered to subscribers through the Winnipeg Free Press Insider program.

Lilleyman said the Insider program will function as a gateway to all kinds of unique opportunities, from free tickets to sporting and cultural events, to front-of-the-line access to Free Press-produced events such as Sunday Brunch Collective. "We want our subscribers to experience all that is great about this city and province, and the Insider program will be our readers’ direct path to those opportunities," she said.

Following Bado, Sunday Brunch Collective will feature artists William Prince, a renowned folk/country artist from Peguis First Nation who is wowing audiences on the summer festival circuit, and Mitchell Schiminowski, a graduate of the Winnipeg Folk Festival Young Performers Program who is creating a real buzz in the music community with his roots/pop sound.


Dan Lett

Dan Lett

Born and raised in and around Toronto, Dan Lett came to Winnipeg in 1986, less than a year out of journalism school with a lifelong dream to be a newspaper reporter.