This is an event I am especially proud to announce and promote. Queen Victoria Public School’s Parent Council is holding the first, of many more, hot school lunch days. On Tuesday May 4 senior students will be preparing 2 types of soups for the rest of the school to purchase for their lunch. This program acts as a fund raiser for the Parent Council but reaches far beyond that in promoting the new food guidelines set out by the Provincial Government as well as teaching the students where their food comes from. The program was made possible by working in partnership with private sponsors. We at the Black Kettle Bistro along with the Essex County Associated Growers are contributing our time and products for the program. All produce used is grown locally and helps promote the Buy Local movement. Once we have worked out all the kinks we hope to grow the program to eventually have regular scheduled hot lunch days in our school; all prepared from local ingredients and by our very own students. This program has been in the works for awhile and we hope to expand it more in the coming school year.
It’s been quite awhile since my last post. Five months to be exact. Many things have kept me busy including participation in the Downtown Farmer’s Market, new initiatives in our catering department, and last but definitely not least having our baby. little Wilson is doing well and things have finally seemed to calm down a bit. I now have more time to tackle blogging again. I’ve got many ideas for blog posts so keep tuning in for much more activity.
Supporting Local Arts & Music
I have been brewing over this idea for quite sometime now and am excited to finally get this off the ground. We have been trying to support the local art scene since we opened but have had trouble finding ways to do it and also finding the time to do so. We are always looking for artists to hang shows at our place and welcome anyone with posters etc to post them on our windows. Today I’m announcing a special promo that supports one of Windsor’s great music groups. Yellow Wood is unveiling their newest album later in November on the 21st. Their CD release party promises to be a big event. I’ve heard the album and can assure you it won’t disappoint. In anticipation of this date we are offering something very special, totally free. Starting November 1 we will be giving away a digital download card, FREE, for everybody that comes in and eats at BKB after 4 o’clock. All you have to do is spend more than $5. It has 4 songs on it and can hold you over until you can by the CD on the 21st. We’re doing this in partnership with Yellow Wood. They are great guys and supportive customers and when I ran the idea by them of doing combos with music specials they jumped on the opportunity and were willing to offer their cards for promotion. If you know Yellow Wood and like their stuff this is a great chance to get a free teaser of the great forthcoming album. If you haven’t heard of Yellow Wood, well this is a great chance to get to hear a bit of their stuff. So come on in to eat anytime this month after 4pm and receive a free download card from Yellow Wood. Simply ask the person at the counter about the offer. We would like to give it to people that actually want to hear it. Quantities are limited and the offer will expire when we run out of cards so don’t wait too long. Here’s all the pertinent links and info to help you get to know one of the areas most talented bands. Take the time to peruse these sites well. They know how to keep in touch with their fans. Follow the links to the Facebook page, their twitter updates, their livestream channel and their Youtube channel. These guys know their shit. Music nerds for sure. I know they’ll take that as a compliment as its meant.
A side note….. any artist or musician looking to hang their work or participate in some sort of cross promotion please stop in anytime to chat. we welc0me the opportunity to work with anybody helping promote and share their work. message me here or stop in.
One of the reasons I started the BKB blog, aside from the obvious self promotion, was to try and shine a light on local independent businesses in the Windsor area like the Black Kettle Bistro that work hard day to day to bring you something unique and of quality. These kinds of businesses enrich the community and create a pulse for the city. When it comes to the restaurant business in Windsor we haven’t really seen too much attention paid to local enduring chefs and restaurateurs. Ted Whipp is an outstanding resource and we are lucky that someone with such a passion for food is writing the column for the Windsor Star but because of constraints and limitations we don’t get to dive to deep into any story or personality. I, along with countless others, have been lucky to learn the craft of cooking in so many great kitchens across this city. There has been a great culinary tradition in Windsor. Immigration and multiculturalism have created an epicurean dream city.
There has recently been a changing of the guard of sorts. We’re coming into a new era of new restaurants and chefs looking to continue that great tradition laid down in this city. Many of the old classic places are closing and chefs that influenced countless others are retiring. Underneath them is a slew of chefs that are maturing and showing great resilience as they grow older and leave behind the naive enthusiasm of their twenties and early thirties and enter into, dare I say it, middle age. Middle age, career wise. I reluctantly place myself in this category. One local chef and restaurateur in specific has shown that his unique approach to both cooking and business not only works but works well. Chef Nick Politi of Ristorante Nico on Erie St has become one of Windsor’s premier chef and restaurateurs.The accolades and accomplishments are too long to list. really. the one i will mention however is that he has garnered the “where to eat in Canada” award for the last 10 years. To say that the last decade has been a difficult one for the hospitality industry is a huge understatement. Not only has he survived but he continues to flourish on the corner of Erie and Elsmere. I had the great luck and privilege to work there in its inception. I was his first official sous chef. It’s a time I look back on with extreme fondness. The simplicity and humility he brings to his cooking is something that has stayed with me and helped influence the way I cook more than any other. The restaurant has always looked great and has always dedicated itself to the highest quality ingredients and techniques. there are no corners cut and no detail unnoticed. many chefs are known for their excessive ego and desire for attention. Nick has neither. he gladly shares the accolades with his staff. A testament to his business savvy and solid character is the fact that his staff stays. He has had employees for years and years. There are people who work there that worked there when I did over 11 years ago. His business model is simple. Offer exceptional food in a great environment and give great unpretentious, honest, good service. It works. It may be the best restaurant in the city. It is the best Italian restaurant in the city, probably the best Italian restaurant between Chicago and Toronto. Tall praise, yes, but well deserved.
We don’t often realize or think about who helped shape the Windsor dining scene. I think its time people started to acknowledge what we have among us. When chefs talk of their heroes and mention their influences it may seem odd to hear the names of local small business owners among them but that’s exactly where we have come to and we should stand proud. The list of people that have worked at Nico’s, for example, that have gone on to open their own successful restaurant is impressive. Rosario Monteleone (Foia), Filip Rocca (Mezzo), Enzo Mancuso (Tutto & Mancuso’s), and I humbly include myself (Vivo & BKB) on that list. Nick was also half of the original cooking team of Il Gabbiano. Nick later opened NOI with Jay and Gino and helped shape the menu and make it the great spot it is today with Jay and Gino at the helm. Many people are weary of trying out a place like Nico simply because it may be too expensive for them. While it is high end fine dining, Nick also offers an affordable, yet equally as delicious, lunch menu. Either way, if you get the chance try and make it in to Nico soon. you won’t regret it.
The notion or idea of buying local is fast becoming one of the most popular catch phrases of today’s generation. We even hear it in the media with respect to Obama’s stimulus package in the United States. As a restaurant owner I often have a problem buying local ingredients. With time restraints and pressure to find the best prices buying local, when it comes to food especially for a restaurant, can be very challenging. Just yesterday I read a blog post on the my local food blog about a local wheat mill. My first reaction was to find the phone number and get some pricing. I have planned to visit the mill later this week. I hope we can create a working relationship. I am admittedly very ignorant of the local food suppliers that are available. I hope to be using the info from the blog to help me better achieve my goal of using as much local ingredients as possible. In the summer I have the market and/or option to take a trek out to the county and stock up on fresh vegetables. In the winter it isn’t so easy. The idea of buying local reaches far beyond the food that we eat. In Windsor it has meant buy domestically made cars. There is nothing more frustrating than driving behind a car that has a “out of a job yet” bumper sticker only to see them pulling into a Wal Mart, Costco, or Kelseys parking lot. They are so self serving and short sighted. The notion of supporting local must become a widespread full out practice. Believing in the idea is one thing but acting it out is far more important. There are many great examples of local small businesses that offer better services than the chains and come with much more rewarding experiences. I don’t want to make an all out bold statement like you should boycott chains. Some chains have quality as a priority and respect the products they sell and contribute to a better local environment while others just package a product in an appealing way and simply want an easy sale. Decisions should be made on an individual basis. Many of the larger restaurant chains simply disrespect the food and product so badly that it is appalling to spend any money there and support the plastic, bland atmosphere. We are so fortunate to have a multitude of small restaurants and bars that offer a wide variety of styles of food and atmospheres. We also have a multitude of other businesses that are unique and offer so much more than what you’ll find at the mall or out on Walker road. One of my favorite things to do with my oldest son jack is to go for a walk to Rogues Gallery downtown. We’ve been going there since he was roughly 2 or 3. He loves it. We go every 2-3 months. The guys there are great. Jack wasn’t even able to read but was fascinated by the posters, figures and atmosphere of the place. He has since developed a love for reading that has him reading at a grade 4 level. (he’s in grade 1) The place is great. I’ll grab a comic book, a couple of retro Stars Wars figures and it might come out to $10. Its great to go to a place where the people are so passionate about their products and services. The movie theatre downtown is another wonderful example of great value and right in our midst downtown. If I take my entire family to see a movie at the larger boxes out at the mall or on Walker road I would pay almost $60 for 2 adults, 2 children, and a popcorn combo of some sort. That same scenario downtown has cost me $26. INCREDIBLE! Less than half the price. Supporting local businesses needs to be a conscious decision on every level. We spend money on goods and services everyday. When you are getting ready to go out and buy something or have something done for you take a moment and ask yourself if there is anybody small and local that can do that for you instead. Hardware stores, dry cleaners, restaurants, cafes, bookstores, record stores, gift shops, haircuts, groceries, flower shops, shoe stores, etc. The best way to stimulate the economy and foster a great relationship with our local environment is to stop and think on how we can truly live and SPEND in Windsor. It is a continuous challenge but with more and more awareness through mediums like this we can all come to find more and more hidden gems in this city.