Not Quite a Food Revolution but a Step in the Right Direction

May 2, 2010

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.

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Exciting Events with Winter Bites – Week full of great food, music and art!

January 4, 2010

Black Kettle Bistro is excited to announce its participation in Winter Bites.  We are taking the culinary festival one step further and incorporating some of Windsor’s finest artistic talents to create not only a great culinary experience but a great taste of the Windsor arts & music scene.  Each night we will be hosting a special guest artist or musician.  It will be a special small and intimate atmosphere.  You may not get a chance to see these artists is such a setting anywhere else.  We will be offering a new and unique menu for the event.  When you purchase the $25 menu $5 will automatically go to the artist and if you choose the $35 menu then $15 will go to the artist and you will receive a signed copy of their CD or a special limited addition print signed by the artist.  Below is a list of the participating artists and musicians.  As outlined in a previous post, BKB is also starting their cooking class series the week of Winter Bites.  This is an exciting event that we are very proud to be offering and very excited to host.  Winter Bites is the perfect excuse to get out in the middle of a long cold January.  If you’re a fan of BKB this is an opportunity to try something that is not usually on the menu.  If you haven’t tried BKB yet, this is definitely the time to do so.

Sunday January 17 – Cooking Class: Soups & Stews

Monday January 18 – Jeremy Coulter (Stereo Goes Stellar)

Tuesday January 19 – Owen Wolters Photo Exhibit Show Closing

Wednesday January 20 – Adam Rideout-Arkel (Yellow Wood)

Thursday January 21 – Mike Hargreaves (Michou & Solo Artist)

Friday January 22 – Stefan Cvetkovic (Efan)

Saturday January 23 – Cristina Naccarato Photo Exhibit Opening

For BKB Menu Options & Details and more Winter Bites info visit Windsor Eats

Reservations are Required for this event……

Reservations: Call BKB  519.252.4333 or email blackkettlebistro@gmail.com

Shows start @ 7:15pm Reservations for 6:30, 6:45, 7, & 7:15 available



Vote for BKB on WindsorEats.com

May 16, 2009

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WindsorEats.com is giving the public an opportunity to have their say. They have created 9 categories in which to show your support and give your opinions on. The voting for the WindsorEats.com Awards is open until midnight June 1. We are encouraging everyone to not only vote but visit the Windsor Eats site and take a good look around. Windsor Eats has been servicing local restaurants and foodies for years. Their dedication to promoting the local restaurant and food scene is unmatched. They care and they want people to share in that passion for food and all that Windsor has to offer. Please go through every category and weigh in on who you think is the best. We at BKB hope you will consider us for every category that we are nominated but we are especially hoping that people recognize us as Favourite Casual Restaurant. We have been committed to making great food in a stylish atmosphere at the most reasonable pricing in town. If that doesn’t equal best casual restaurant, I can’t imagine what would. So please take a moment and go to WindsorEats.com to vote. Please pass this on. We have been struggling to communicate exactly what BKB is to people. This would help immensely. Vote. Encourage others to vote. Show your support. Thanks


Time to Recognize Some Local Industry Icons

April 18, 2009

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.nicoThe 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.


A Formal Introduction to BKB

March 9, 2009

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Since we opened, back in the summer of last year, it has become one of the hardest things to have to explain to people. What exactly is the Black Kettle Bistro (AKA BKB)? Before being able to answer, there needs to be a new understanding of what it means to eat at a restaurant nowadays. We’re not breaking the mold or creating a new mold, we are simply not using a mold at all. You can say we’re winging it. Our number one priority is in the quality of the food. Eating well made, flavourful, fresh dishes does not have to be expensive. Made slow, served fast. We have tried to create a menu that encompasses people’s need for quick service as well as their desire to eat fresh and well made. Alongside that menu we offer a full coffee bar featuring organic fair trade coffee and espresso beans, almost 20 organic loose leaf teas to choose from, and a short yet inclusive bar menu with beer, wines, and martinis. We have such a wide range of offerings that its been hard to introduce BKB to people. The name itself has invoked images of a more expensive fine dining place but all that was intended was to instill the primary importance on the food itself. We have tried to create a space as well that can be very welcoming to many different people and have slowly been adding more character and personality as time goes on. Today we added 4 plugs along the base of our booths to better accommodate people interested in plugging in while surfing on our free WiFi service. I am still trying to lure local artists to hang their pieces on our walls. Would be a great addition to our space. I do want to make it abundantly clear that we are a great place for lunch but we are also a perfect spot to come and hang out for a few hours during the day maybe surfing the web while sipping on some tea. We are a great spot to take in a casual cheap dinner. Have a glass of wine with one of our baked pastas. Or come in later just to have some martinis before or in lieu of going to the bars. Of course if you’;re out late on Friday or Saturday nights come by for some late night specials after last call. To make everything that much more appealing we’ll be setting up our patio in the coming weeks. So, with the risk of sounding like a shameless promotion, you now know exactly what we are. kinda. so there’s no excuse why you haven’t tried us yet and we’re quite confident that you’ll be back after that.

Here are our official hours………

Mon thru Thur 9a.m – 10p.m

Fri 9a.m – 10 p.m    (NO Longer Open Late Nights)

Sat 10a.m – 10 p.m

Sun CLOSED


Quick Audition Update

February 20, 2009

I’ve been surprised at how many people have asked me about the audition I had in Toronto a couple of weeks ago.  I had actually resigned myself to not getting the part so I was surprised when others asked about the results.  Sorry for not sharing sooner.  Unfortunately I didn’t get the part.  They responded about a week ago with a pleasant email.  It was a learning experience and I had a nice relaxing couple of days visiting with friends.  As for the idea of doing a cooking show I might have something in the works in the near future.  I will of course be letting everyone know if and when my ideas come to fruition.    So, for the time being at least, you won’t be seeing my mug on the tube any time soon.


Going GREEN! Good for Business, good for the Community and good for the Soul

February 18, 2009

recycling1Going green has become one of the more popular movements as of late. Its a catch phrase used by so many for so many different things. Environmentalists have been screaming from the rooftops for years but it has only become a major priority in the mainstream population in the last couple of years. Political policies seem to define the movement but individual acts are what truly have made the biggest impact to date. That is why I have decided to create a detailed and comprehensive green policy for our company. The hospitality sector has many opportunities to improve. There are a tremendous amount of challenges that face an operator. Balancing your own personal desires and goals with the economic realities can be tricky. What needs to happen is a joint effort on everybody’s part to contribute. We as operators should start moving towards change and ask our customers to do so as well. Granted, that sounds easier than it really is but we need to start somewhere. By creating a policy and strategy we can try and set goals and time lines for our goals. Change won’t happen overnight but it can and will happen if people want it to happen. A perfect illustration of this is what CBC’s The Hour achieved with their One Million Acts of Green initiative. I am a firm believer that incorporating policies in our economic plan is the only way to sustain the efforts long term. Obviously I believe that any change made on a personal level and done in our everyday lives is a step in the right direction but when companies adopt changes than steps turn into strides. We already do the basics at BKB. We recycle, we have reduced waste to phenomenal levels and try to conserve energy at every turn. That’s simply not enough. I recently visited friends in Guelph and was amazed to see that many if not most of the local restaurants have moved away from using traditional take out containers. That is probably my biggest challenge. How do we balance the economic reality with the needs of the customers all the while trying to reduce our environmental impact? This is where I need help. From customers, other restaurant owners, and suppliers. If more and more restaurants only offered take out in reusable containers that the customer provided than it would become the norm. Sometimes we can look to the larger corporations for leadership in these scenarios. Starbucks, for example, offers a discount for customers who provide their own coffee mug as an alternative to using a paper cup. Its a lot easier for a large corporation to implement strategies like that but we need to ride the new popularity of the green movement and use it to our advantage. Basically its cool to be green so why not move to be more green. Maybe I can elicit the help of other restaurant owners and start a larger initiative and get more people aware of our efforts as well as getting customers to be willing participants. How can we achieve all this? One step at a time. I will keep you posted on our efforts and hopefully recruit many of you to help by participating in our Project Green. As well I will be trying to get more and more input from other restaurants as well as suppliers who may want to participate and help turn their own operations greener. If this grows large enough they may be swayed by the amount of publicity something like this may garner. Some areas or ideas that I want to look into are the following…..

– minimizing take out containers and asking customers to bring in their own containers

– charging a surcharge for take out containers and using the extra revenue to buy more expensive biodegradable containers

– separating all food refuse and collecting it for local gardening groups for use as compost

– creating larger buying groups of restaurants to help reduce the extra cost of better take out containers

– making decisions on food choices and suppliers based on local availability therefore reducing the necessity for transport

– using earth friendly cleaning products (already 1/2 way there)

These are simply a few ideas that I have come up with but I am asking that anyone with any suggestions please comment here and hopefully we can use this medium to help initiate our very own community driven One Million Acts of Green. I will have regular postings updating our progress as well as constant pleas for input and help. After all, I can only incorporate ideas that you, the customer, see as reasonable.