Sunday, January 3rd, 2016 at 10:31 pm

Epicureous in Edmonton: 2015 Year in Review

Trends, especially in Edmonton, can take several years to take root. And in putting these summaries together, I’m reminded of how, in many ways, the calendar year is just an arbitrary measure of time.

Coffee Bureau

Several third wave cafes like Coffee Bureau sprouted in 2015

But we are fortunate to live in a community where there is an ever-increasing number of people who care about the food they grow, prepare, or serve, so it’s our duty to acknowledge and appreciate these changes, even if they sometimes seem incremental and small.

Here’s what was notable to me in 2015:

  • The independent dining scene in St. Albert came into its own this year, attracting attention with openings like farm-to-table restaurant 12 Acres, Buco, Sorrentino’s first pizza and wine bar, and a second location of Chef Andrew Fung’s much-lauded Nineteen. Closely tied in was the continued rise of independent suburban establishments, such as Cured and Workshop Eatery.
  • In Central Edmonton, we gained a number of third wave cafes: Coffee Bureau, Lockstock, Rogue Wave Coffee, Bru and Barking Buffalo. Nomad Espresso also started operations as the city’s first mobile coffee cart.
  • While I don’t think we’ve quite hit “peak ramen” in the Capital Region just yet, it was a banner year for the noodles, with the fervor for the opening of Prairie Noodle Shop exceeding expectations.
  • While Japanese-inspired ramen may be the hottest #yegfood item at the close of 2015, Edmonton experienced a Korean wave this year, with Nongbu, Tofu House, It’ All and Daore joining the fold.
  • The humble sandwich is also alive and well, with inspired and tasty offerings available from Sandwich and Sons, Dovetail Deli, The Local Omnivore, and even an outpost of Calgary-based Chachi’s at West Edmonton Mall.
  • We did lose a few notable establishments this year, including Unheardof and Happy Garden. On the side of food retail, Mother’s Market closed after a year of operation.
  • Crowdfunding projects aren’t new to the local food scene (Creole Envie embraced it to jumpstart a trip to the Taste of Edmonton in 2014), but it took on life this year, with a successful Kickstarter campaign for Chartier, a forthcoming French-Canadian restaurant in Beaumont. Prairie Noodle Shop and regional restaurant/social justice project The Alder Room also tried to raise online backers.
  • Edmontonians love competitions – the Canadian Food Championships were newly installed in 2015 by Events Edmonton, and Get Cooking’s wildly popular Edmonton Food Fight began in February. Several local chefs including Shane Chartrand and David Omar also appeared on national food programs like Chopped and Masterchef.
  • When we started Eat Alberta back in 2011, opportunities to develop food skills were isolated to often pricey one-off classes. In 2015, with the Dig In Festival in its second year, and the advent of the Edmonton Resilience Festival and Little Brick Home School, it’s great to see that chances for learning are becoming more widespread. On a related DIY note, City Council approved urban beekeeping in April.
  • 2015 saw its share of pop-up dinners, some in unusual, unique locations. It’ll be interesting to see whether this trend can sustain itself, given the price associated with many of these events is steadily increasing.
  • It was great to see some local interpretations of the anti-food waste movement, such as the SalvagED pop-ups that made meals from otherwise discarded produce, and Reclaim Urban Farm’s sale of so-called “ugly” vegetables.

Onward to 2016!

You can check out previous year in reviews here.