Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Chilean Corner

For over eight years now Marta Reyes has been serving up exceptional Chilean cuisine at The Forks Market. Those who have had the pleasure of enjoying her Chilean creations know how gifted she is, those who haven’t, are simply missing out. Traditional Chilean cuisine incorporates a variety of Spanish-influenced dishes while featuring common Chilean ingredients including seafood, grilled meats, corn, beans, potatoes and tropical fruit. It is known for its delectable variety of flavours and its vibrant colours, thus setting it apart from any other cuisine in the world! Marta captures these elements in the food she prepares and displays them beautifully for the customers and patrons of The Forks Market.
Growing up in Chile, Marta began cooking for her family and friends at a young age, inheriting recipes and cooking methods from her mother and other women in her neighborhood. She started by using her food as a way of contributing to her community; it wasn’t until she moved to Winnipeg in 1991 that it became a feasible business opportunity. Over time, she has been able to perfect her process.
She wanted to provide people with an alternative and felt that Winnipeggers shouldn’t have to wait for Folklarama to try Chilean food. So she opened up the Chilean Corner and made a significant addition to the mosaic of ethnic delights the Forks Market has to offer. “It is a perfect place for people like me to share their culture” she states.
Chilean Corner is known especially for its empanadas, which are stuffed pastries consisting of meat, vegetables, fruits and spices. Other notable dishes include Charquican, a Chilean beef stew, Chilean Completo, which is essentially a Chilean spin on the traditional hot dog, and Charcarero, a beef and tomato sandwich.
Even with most of her free time going towards her store, she still plays a very prominent roll in her community, “I make lots of homemade soups for a lot of people in my area; I guess you could say it’s made me quite popular”.
It is Marta’s passion to present her culture’s cuisine to the people of Winnipeg, but it’s not always that easy. Marta states, “People are afraid to try something they’ve never had before, which in this case, is my cooking”. She won’t let this discourage her and she remains confident that people will love her food as soon as they try it. So if you’re looking to try something new on your next lunch break give Chilean Corner a try, you won’t be disappointed. 

Monday, 22 October 2012

The Waterfront

As many of you may know we are working on a long term plan for Winnipeg’s downtown waterfront – really a 20-30 year vision of what can be done to celebrate Winnipeg as a river-city.  We’ll be providing an update on the plan at our upcoming AGM on October 31*.

The idea for creating such a plan evolved over the last decade or so through a variety of discussions with people from throughout North America (and beyond) at the WaterfrontCenter annual conference. When I chaired the awards selection jury at this US based organization it became quite clear that the creation of a long term vision is an early and important step in city-building.  It was equally clear that Winnipeg has a great opportunity waiting to happen.  So discussions began with senior city, provincial and federal officials and the idea was embraced - create a river-front plan that celebrates Winnipeg as a river-city.

With developments at The Forks we have taken a very important step in that direction. In fact, Winnipeg has received three Waterfront Centre awards including the Riverwalk (Forks to Legislature), The Forks Historic Port and River Trail/Warming huts.  Winnipeg and The Forks have become well recognized at these conferences.

A long term vision needs careful thought and consideration.  Participation in meetings and work-shops at those conferences, where we hear examples of what works and what doesn’t develop prepares us with new insights and knowledge.   

Two weeks ago I attended the 30th Annual Waterfront Center Conference in Washington DC. Although attendance was lower than usual with approximately 150 participants, it had representation from many parts of the world.  I had the pleasure of chairing a panel on mixed-use development with some very smart people from NYC, Vancouver BC, and Duluth.  Different stories from different places with some very similar messages.

Some of the highlights that hit home are:
  • ·       Plan for the big-picture but don’t be overly prescriptive.  Be open to take advantage of new ideas and new opportunities as they arise.
  • ·      Although it is big attractions that often draw people to the waterfront we were reminded by our NYC panelist, who designed Battery Park, that the most compelling element is the relationship with the surrounding environment and making the waterfront part of everyday life.
  • ·      Big is not always better and it is important to take full advantage of small green spaces that create intimate natural settings for leisure and relaxation.
  • ·      Waterfronts are a life’s work and need continuous care and improvement (we experience this at The Forks).
  • ·      It takes time and often a number of plans before projects are adopted and built so diligence and determination are required. (Interestingly those we speak to are impressed how quickly The Forks transformed a rail-yard into what exists today – it seems like a long-haul to us.)
  • ·      Connect the waterfront to the people first, not the buildings.  And acknowledge the gaps, ensuring linkages to the adjacent neighbourhoods.

These are good lessons many of which we have tried to incorporate into or planning process.  We are appreciative of those that share their stories at conferences like this but are equally receptive to local Winnipeggers sharing their thoughts and ideas. 

-Jim August

*The Forks North Portage Annual General Meeting is being held on Wednesday, October 31 from 8:30 am to 10:00 am at the Children’s Museum. It is open to the public. 

Monday, 1 October 2012

Yudyta's Ukrainian Food

When Judy Woligroski opened Yudyta’s Ukrainian Food in The Forks Market in 1989, she didn’t even know how to make a perogy.

The only thing Judy knew for sure was that she liked The Forks because it was a “cool place to hang” and saw potential in its daytime traffic and diverse clientele.

Initially her plan was to open a retail store but a hungry family member suggested a food kiosk. She would take the advice, but would need her mother’s traditional Ukrainian recipes, and more importantly she would need her mother’s help.

Luckily for Judy, her mother Caroline adored The Forks. She loved the morning commute, the wildlife, the trees and the overall atmosphere of the area. They both knew it was a special place and wanted to be a part of its bright future.

So, together, the Woligroskis began pumping out delicious perogies, cabbage rolls, garlic sausage and borscht gaining a reputation throughout Winnipeg as a premiere perogy palace.  As demand for their product grew, so did their operation.They began catering special functions from office parties to weddings. They couldn’t make perogies fast enough during the holiday season, as they became an extremely hot commodity.

To the Woligroskis, The Forks Market is a second home and its tenants a second family. They support one another; if someone runs out of oil or potatoes they are quickly taken care of. It’s a community of caring and cohesion coming together for a common goal of making The Forks a Winnipeg destination.

This family element was especially evident in June when Judy’s mother tragically passed away. Again, Judy needed help, and The Forks community gave her the support she needed to continue the Yudyta’s legacy.

Although Judy has had challenges to overcome, mostly related to replicating her mother’s borscht recipe, you can still find Judy behind the counter at Yudyta’s. Still serving up exceptional Ukrainian cuisine and tremendous customer service.

So if you find yourself at The Forks on an empty stomach go see Judy at Yudyta’s Ukrainian Food. Never tried a cabbage roll before? She will treat you to a free sample. What to learn how to make a perogy? Wash your hands and put on an