In the restaurant world, we are consistently looking for the next new fad to dig our teeth into. Articles are published yearly by the world’s best known foodies on what is trending in New York, London and Paris. It gives us a snippet of how our industry is progressing, but how does this reflect our little neck of the woods? We called in all our favours, and asked our city’s best and brightest to comment on where they see our food system going in Regina and Saskatchewan. This is what came out of our conversations.
The Continuation of the Local Movement
The local movement is still in full swing, and the influx of local farmers and purveyors means consumers have plenty of opportunity and choice when it comes to buying quality local goods. Whether it be sourcing our regions products through collaborative chefs like Mariana Brito from The Backyard and Ashley Schmalenberg from Saltine Baking Co, locavore online grocer Local&Fresh, or our beloved Regina Farmer’s Market, buying local is becoming just as accessible as going to the big supermarkets.
Each winter the farmers market takes a two month hiatus which we at Saltine welcome with open arms! This year we spent our time off taking a good hard look at what our goals were going to be for this upcoming year. One of our primary goals as we started out the season was to work toward expanding our variety of grains and flours that we use as a bakery — not only to serve as a more healthy approach but a more flavourful one as well. Over the past three years the shop local movement has grown exponentially; and consumers are taking careful consideration when it comes to what they are choosing to feed their loved ones. We at Saltine want to constantly strive to be part of that consideration. Our loaves continue to be naturally fermented and baked with locally sourced flour, and our goal is to work toward utilizing more of Saskatchewan’s whole grains and pulses to create excellent tasting loaves; think porridge loaves with local millet and barley, or sprouted grain loaves with rye and spelt berries. We’re excited for this new approach to our baking, while expanding our knowledge to make great bread
– Ashley Schmalenberg, Owner – Saltine Bread Company
Food Prices on the Rise
Until recently, full adoption of the local food movement has been hampered by the cost. It was simply cheaper for the average family to buy their groceries from the supermarket, and not from their local farmer. According to the Globe and Mail, Canada as a nation imports 80% of its fruits and vegetables, but with our struggling dollar and the water shortage in California, we will continue to see rising costs. Now supporting your local farmer — cost wise — has balanced itself, as well as being convenient to purchase.
According to Sylvain Charlesbois from the University of Guelph’s Food Institute, the inflation rate on meat will grow from 2.5% to 4% in 2016, which is on top of a 4% growth in 2015. With a potential 8% rise in meat costs over two years, consumers are looking for a low-cost/high-protein alternative… cue the pulse and alternative grain! Purchasing these products are as easy as scrolling through your Instagram feed. We suggest you check out Presto Farm from Grand Coulee, SK. They produce high quality puy lentils, and are available through Local&Fresh and at Crave Kitchen and Wine Bar.
The biggest “trend” I see is that the eat local movement will blow up. It has always been a thing, but now with rising food costs for staples, the small grower produce and goods are in line with typical grocery store products. Another thing that has to happen is this “ugly produce” trend. Everyone feels they need to eat perfect apples, peaches, carrots, etc. which leaves all the blemished products to become animal feed, manufactured, highly processed foods or compost.
People will continue to eat more vegetables and high protein pulses and grains with the continually rising cost of animal protein.
– Jonathan Thauberger, Executive Chef Crave Kitchen & Wine Bar
There are Only Vegetables on my Plate
One result of the growing cost of meat has been the resurgence of the vegetable! Chefs are becoming more resourceful and concentrating on accentuating the flavours of the product, while consumers are throwing away memories of bland, over-cooked side dishes, and embracing veggies in their leading role. Regina’s Glow Juicery and Raw Bar focuses on raw, vegan dishes and cold pressed juices, and has seen a continued growth and adoption from the public since their opening.
People are consciously consuming — actively taking charge of their nutrition. Consumers are starting to ask more questions about what’s going into our body. At Glow we’re able to very easily connect our customers to the end product, an apple is an apple. Food is fuel and medicine at its purest form.
– Leslie Genoway- Owner of LG Fitness and Glow Juicery and Raw Bar
Where did all The Chefs Go?
In a recent article in GQ Magazine, famed Chef David Chang wrote of the imminent restaurant apocalypse — “Food’s too cheap, tipping makes no sense, cooks are broke, and it’s damn near impossible to earn a living in this effed-up business.” With one of the world’s most successful chefs warning of the crash of the restaurant industry as we know it, it makes no wonder that we have seen a 15% decline in culinary school applications according to caterer.com. The sheer cost to do business as a restaurant in today’s market is staggering. With staffing, food and rental prices on the rise, many restaurants have been forced to close their doors.
The direction we are headed is more towards fast convenient. The millennials are a large portion of the demographic and they want good, healthy and convenient food. Proof is such… Restaurants Canada talked about dry cereal sales being down something like 40%. And their studies show it’s because of millennials’ buying power.
– James Taylor, Partner The Willow on Wascana & Beer Brothers
A Light at the End of the Tunnel
It’s not all doom and gloom. The restaurant biz is not going away, it is just in the beginning steps of reinventing itself once again. Chefs and entrepreneurs are being forced to find creative solutions to meet the demands of information-hungry consumers who want go out for high-quality, convenient food, and also know how to make it at home. Schoolhaus Culinary Arts is taking advantage of this trend, offering our city’s population the opportunity to learn from qualified staff in well-organised and informative cooking classes — exciting the chef in every one of us.
I’ve observed over the last year or so is the decline in gluten-free requests. It is my opinion that this trend will continue. Of course, those who have celiac disease will always require their food to be gluten-free, but for those who have chosen this route as a health measure, I see them being less strict with their habits.
– Aimee Schulhauser, Chef Proprietor of Tangerine, Evolution Catering & Schoolhaus Culinary Arts
Collaborative is the New Competitive
We are no longer at a place to be insular in our business decisions; we need to lean on our community in an informed manner to further our interests. This is especially important in the food service world at a time when costs are so high. Collaboration is a method in which passion for food and beverage can flourish.
Local&Fresh have become the catalyst of collaboration in our city, purveying over 1000 local products to the population daily.
Collaborative spaces are beginning to pop up all over Regina. Businesses 33 1/3 Coffee Roasters, Malty National Brewing and T&A Vinyl and Fashion share one location on 15th Ave. Newly opened fix. Coffee on Rose Street is a family-run business that offers a networking and shared space solution where artists and purveyors can showcase their goods. High-end, chef-inspired take-out BFF (Best Food Forward), eliminates the conventional restaurant and gives you family-friendly dinners (and pantry items) delivered to your house daily, while also housing a bakery and soon-to-open Reid’s Artisanal Butchery.
I think collaboration is imperative to everyone’s success. The more I share with my community, the more I learn and the better I get at my job. The only way to be my best is through sharing and learning from my peers…and I have the best peers!
– Ginger Braaten- Owner of Best Food Forward