August 06, 2015

Fine Food Stop presents... Chef to Be

The Calgary food scene has been cooking up some of the best chefs across the nation. As the the taste for quality food has swept across the West, us here at Fine Food Stop wanted to give back a little to some of the up and coming “chef to be’s”. Partnering with SAIT Culinary Campus, City Palate and Willow Park Wine & Spirits, we’ve created an ultimate cooking showdown; Chef to Be.

Execution and efficiency is key, as each group is given the order of 300 small tasting meals to serve with no knowledge of the ingredients given beforehand. With only four hours to produce the best results, the head chefs from Anju, Avec Bistro, Cannibale, the Post Hotel, River Cafe and Rouge,will put their reputations on the line as they fight for respect, and their student apprentices will compete for the reward of $5,000 in scholarship money from SAIT.

Not only will attendees be exposed to incredible culinary creations that the chefs will fuse together, but also wine and beer pairings, a taste of our local food and the honour of participating in Calgary’s rising culinary movement. With the goal of raising awareness for the booming food scene in Calgary, and the prominent SAIT culinary school, we believe in supporting a sustainable food industry in Calgary.

Participate in a silent auction for incredible prizes, sample incredible dishes these restaurants have to offer, vote for your choice of Calgary’s next Chef to Be and experience the intensity of a blackbox cooking competition like never before.

So join us at 5 PM this October 15 at the cooking capital of our city, the SAIT Culinary Campus, and help support the young culinary talent that is flourishing in our city.

Visit www.cheftobe.ca to get tickets!

January 12, 2015

Food & Restaurant Trends for 2015

It’s the beginning of a new year and the food and restaurant industry is already rife with change. Local food has taken up residence, cookbooks dominate bestseller lists, chefs are the new rock stars and cooking shows are now part of your Thursday night TV regime. And at the base of it all is a generational shift in culinary awareness that had The New York Times referring to as a “gastronomic youthquake.”

With millenials having spent upwards of $90 billion in the past year on food services alone it’s no wonder the industry is starting to take action in adapting to the needs and wants of this new generation of diners, all the while remaining faithful to the values of the older gen. 

While 2015 promises to retain some of the charm of old trends such as small plates and comfort food, we can also expect to see some fresh concepts shaped by and for our new generation of gastronomes. 

Closing the Generation Gap

While still keeping in mind the baby boomer ideals of authenticity, restaurants are branching out to youths through customizability and using social media to their full advantage, creating foods worthy of an Instagram post, tweet or Snapchat. Since millenials are contributing hugely to the food service industry and baby boomers are already well a part of it, restaurants are seeking to cater to their two main customers by addressing the health and wellness priorities of the older generation and staying relevant and on trend with youth sharing tendencies. 

Extreme Makeover (Menu Edition)

The most popular new years resolution to date is slimming down, and this year menus are no different. Buying into the “less is more” philosophy, more restaurants are simplifying and focusing instead on a select few well-executed dishes rather than having an overload of options. Not only will smaller menus allow for more accomplished meals but also shorter wait times resulting in overall better service and a more valued dining experience.

With a Side of Local Love

With a rising interest in everything from free-range chicken to natural pesticides and sustainable food production, locally sourced food is a frontrunner for food trends in the new year. Local farms are feeling the love and artisan breads and cheese are gaining popularity along with house-cured charcuterie, locally brewed craft beers and homemade delicacies like ice cream. Local loyalty is all the rage for 2015 and restaurants are answering in kind.

Flourishing Flavors

Foodies are venturing into bold territory, seeking stronger and sharper flavors. Bitter is better and we can expect to see a resurgence of deeper chocolates, hoppier beers and darker coffees, as already evident in the increasing popularity of dark roast debuts. Other shifts on the flavor front include sour sensibilities whether in mustard, vinegar or pickled vegetables, the latter being a top pick for predicted food trends this year.

Food of the Future

Say goodbye to the staples of 2014 and hello to the (sort of) new kids on the block: cauliflower, kimchi, and bone broth. While pickled vegetables are predicted to take the new year by storm, Korean kimchi is one of the top picks for fermented goodness. A traditional dish made most commonly with napa cabbage (though Korea is known to boast more than 200 different kinds), it is made with a variety of seasonings and is best described as at once spicy and sour.

Cauliflower is another big wheeler set to take the stage. As an extremely versatile vegetable we can expect to see it in a multitude of creative forms; baked, fried, mashed or even as a substitute for bread and potatoes.

Last but not least is bone broth, which seems a basic commodity but is already generating buzz and making waves in the beverage sector. Made with bone marrow and spices, it’s the next “it” food for the health conscious and is sure to warm you up as easily as a cup of joe.

December 16, 2014

There's No Taste Like Home

I’ve lived in Calgary for the better part of my life, and when I regale tales of my hometown to those who don’t know it, it usually involves talk of cowboy culture, oil sands, fickle weather, and the Stampede. Food rarely gets a mention unless it involves poutine or perogies (which shocked my inner teenager by being relatively unknown in other parts of the world).

However, lately I find myself becoming more aware of our humble-beginnings restaurant and food industry. Granted, it could be a case of aging, where I now prefer good food and good wine to a night out on the town, even still, it certainly can’t be denied that Calgary’s food industry has grown to new heights. In only a few years, our once humble industry has become nothing short of well cultured, explorative and exciting.

New restaurants with promising menus have been popping up all over the city in earnest for the last few years. With food options, cooking methods and preparation techniques ranging far and wide, these days I spend just as much time googling the words describing my potential meal as I do eating it. But that’s ok! While I wouldn’t label myself as a “foodie” in the formal sense of the word, I do enjoy food with a fervor that sometimes embarrasses my mother; so I certainly don’t object to the fact that Calgary is catering to my every need and helping me climb that foodie ladder in vocabulary, palate and otherwise. The point is, I’m curious and luckily for me, it seems that the rest of Calgary is too.

If the current popular and opening restaurants are any indication of our expanding culinary curiosities, Calgarians have been working on refining their palates and paving the way for new food culture in the city; where caviar, sweetbreads and foie gras have become normal fare. In the days where Calgary restaurants evoked thoughts of steakhouses and sports bars, it’s refreshing to be able to find places in the city that offer delicacies such as roasted bone marrow (Taste), lobster poutine (Briggs), duck confit carbonara (Home Tasting Room) and even a gouda mac and cheese (Blink).

Having lived in the over populated and vastly cultured city of London for the past two years, I’ve unwittingly pitted Calgary into a competition with the British metropolis in every imaginable category. While there have been wins and losses to both teams, and some unfairly so given the scale and reputation of certain contenders; when it comes to the food category I find myself rooting for the underdog apparent and thus far have not been disappointed.

As a result of our city’s realized gastronomic appreciation, Calgary now boasts some of the best places in Canada, if not the world, to get a fine dose of hearty street food, Asian fusion, highbrow cuisine and even comfort food. With an affinity towards using local ingredients, homegrown vegetables and unorthodox combinations, Calgarians are eating better than ever before and I can certainly feel the love.

November 15, 2014

The Fine Food Stop Website is live!

It's been a long time coming, but finally we have The Fine Food Stop website up and running. Not only is this an excellent chance for us to shed some insight into our brand, but it's also a chance to get a sneak peek at where we're going. As we continue to grow and expand we've been taking an increasing number of steps to ensure we provide the utmost in service to our clients. New systems, new staff and some major overhauls are enabling us to improve at every turn.

We also have some major growth plans for 2015 including a home delivery platform that will allow The Fine Food Stop to take it's high quality, fresh food products into the homes of thousands of families across Calgary and the surrounding area. No longer will there be any guesswork in quality or consistency. Keep your eyes peeled for some big moves.