In this edition of YEG Fitness, we’re continuing with our theme of introducing our readers to great local restaurants that are incorporating health inspired local ingredients in their menus. While not everything on the menus is great for the waistline, we believe there is still benefit in sharing the stories of locations that use sustainable practices in their meal planning and bring their customers high quality ingredients sourced from local producers.
This month, we sat down with chef/owner Paul Shufelt of the recently opened Workshop Eatery
- What's the meaning behind Workshop Eatery? Where did that come from?
The name Workshop Eatery came as a result of the raw space I was given and the concept I wanted to create. During the process of opening I was bouncing around several names. While away on a golfing trip with my father and a trusted friend we drove by a bar named Workshop. We never went in, and I couldn't remember what the place was even about, but the name stayed with me. When we returned to Edmonton we walked through the space together. As I saw the garage door leading to the space, the concrete floors, the exposed beams the name just felt right. The icing on the cake was that we wanted to have an open kitchen, for all to us working at our craft, in our "workshop". That's how our place came to be.
- Your menu is all about locally sourced, seasonal products. Why was this important for you when developing the restaurant..
I believe firmly in trying to work with products found in our backyard. Now, it is Edmonton, and we do suffer from winter about eight months of the year, but I do my best to find what I can locally. It was an important aspect of our restaurant for many reasons. Perhaps the most important one was to “walk the walk” and try to live up to the standards of the building we reside in. Buying locally helps to lessen the impact on our environment, by way of reducing carbon emissions caused during travel. It also helps to lower waste due to travel days, and allows us to have product in our hands fresher. It helps to support the local economy and farmers, and it also allows us to get to know the people producing our food and what exactly goes in to making it. This is something that the general public is more aware of and wants to be educated about.
- What is one signature dish served at Workshop that fits your vision of local, sustainable food?
There are many dishes on our menu that highlight great local ingredients, like our Pork n' Beans, featuring Irvings Farm Pork loin with great white northern bean cassoulet, or the Duck Duck Couscous, which features wonderful Moosewood Acres duck breast, and sour cherries, but perhaps the one I am most proud of is our Cobb Salad. Yes, a salad. This dish features butter lettuce, peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes, all grown locally year round by Doef's Greenhouse. It's topped off with a hard-boiled egg from Four Whistle Farms, and maple bacon from Irvings Farm Fresh. The produce from Doef's is reliable and delicious. As a chef I am proud to serve it, but as a business owner, I am also grateful to have such a consistent reliable product available to us. With the continuing impact of climate change it would seem that produce prices are on a rollercoaster ride, with quality ranging from good, to poor, or even unavailable, due to flooding, drought, and freezing. It's great to know that we can count on them year round and I believe that this is the way we must all look if we wish to continue to eat the way we do. It's hard to get more local than that, unless of course, you're speaking of the ingredients that we grow right on the property, like our honey, micro greens and garden vegetables.
You can make this salad for yourself at home. Head to the Old Stratchona Market and grab yourself the produce from Doef's, some farm fresh eggs, a pound of bacon from Irvings, and whip up a delicious blue cheese ranch (or pull a bottle out of the fridge if you have to) and you're all set!
- Why did you choose the Mosaic Centre for your location?
That's a great question. In this case it was less a matter of me choosing The Mosaic Centre as it was the building choosing me. It all began with a chance meeting back in March of 2015. During a luncheon at NAIT I was seated next to a lady who worked in the Mosaic Centre. She was speaking with a colleague across the table about how incredible the new building she was working at was. She then mentioned that they were looking for a restaurant or cafe tenant. It piqued my interest, we exchanged cards, and then I sort of forgot about it. At that point I had pretty much given up on the idea of opening my own place. Twenty years in the business had jaded me and made me less optimistic about the potential of actually making a go of it.
A couple of days later though I received an email from that lady, reiterating how amazing the space was and that if I was interested I should reach out. That weekend it so happened my daughter had a birthday to attend in the neighborhood. With the family in the car I took a little detour and stopped by the building. My wife and I peered through the windows like a couple of voyeurs. We both felt pretty excited about just how unique the architectural style of the building was, but we were both equally terrified about just how far south it was. I arranged to meet with the landlord, under the guise of opening a new place with my previous employer. When we met I spilled the beans that this would be my own venture. I could sense her hesitation, especially when she probed me about my concept.
The truth was, I hadn't really given the concept much thought, but as we toured the building, learning about it's environmental footprint, seeing the bees on the roof, the solar panels, the open concept office space, the garden beds, and finally, the restaurant space, it came to life. How could I do anything but a restaurant focused on seasonal cuisine, using sustainable ingredients, with a strong emphasis on local? We immediately clicked. I could see her passion for her project, and she could see my eyes get big with the potential of what this space could become. Months later, the Workshop Eatery was born, and the rest is history!