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Kid Friendly Dining in Winnipeg


Here is an article that I was reminded of today.  I originally wrote it for Dish Magazine. 

What is your criteria for a child-friendly restaurant? The answer will be different depending upon the age of your child (or children).  My husband and I met in the restaurant business and we always knew that dining with our children would be a part of our lives

 Here are some guidelines that helped us over the years:

Since deep-fried options weren’t our first choice for our children, we became experts at scoping out the affordable places with grilled cheese sandwiches (Kay’s Deli, Star Grill), mac and cheese (Bistro 7 ¼, Saucer’s), falafels (Falafel Place-Caution: cash only) and spaghetti (Bellisimo, Old Spaghetti Factory).  Of course pizza was always a good option too (Mona Lisa, Santa Lucia).

Many kids, including our own, like to experiment and create food of their own and so ethnic restaurants where they can choose their own items to have grilled (Mongos Classic Grill, Palatal) or stuff into a fajita (Don Pedros, Los Chicos) are a great choice.  Vietnamese was often a favourite choice for our youngsters.  We taught them at home how to handle rice & lettuce wraps before we ventured out (Little Saigon, Viva).  Moo shi was another favourite and one order could feed three kids quite nicely (Spicy Noodle House).  Let your kids have messy fun.  Why not?  You don’t have to clean up after them for a change.

Dim sum always did the trick for us because the food could be delivered quickly (Dim Sum Garden, Kum Koon Garden).  We would often let the kid’s have a turn making a selection for all of us and the parade of carts circling around was fascinating to them. 

Buffets also empower kids when they can make their own decisions (East India Company, Buffet Square).  They are more likely to eat what you’ve paid for, if they decided to select it in the first place. 

Of course it is always a bonus, if a restaurant has crayons or an activity sheet (Kegs, Olive Garden).  We always considered it our responsibility though to engage our own kids so we would play games of 20 questions or eye spy.   

Milk, real fruit juices and smoothies (The Don, Smoothie Bar at the Forks) are always welcome items on a menu too.  If the restaurant is able to provide a top for a toddler’s glass, that is a bonus.  It is difficult for a child to grasp the concept of not “crying over spilt milk”.

High chairs and booster seats make sense as well as wide spaces in between tables where you can wheel in a stroller (Stella’s, The Grove).  The offer by a staff member to heat up a bottle is a nice gesture.  Disposable bibs and wet-naps are always a welcoming sight; as well as the knowledge that there is a change table or a family bathroom available.   

A bright, clean, cheerful, casual décor with easy to clean surfaces is always appreciated.  Lots of visual stimulation is a plus as well.  The Old Spaghetti Factory does a great job of providing this.  We used to take the kids for a stroll to see the fish in the huge fish tank that they once had.

If you haven’t done your research and you arrive at a place with low lights, a hushed atmosphere and worried looks on the hostess’s face, you’ve likely shown up at the wrong place.  A noisier atmosphere (Hermano’s), where you will not be stared down if your infant has a cry or your toddler a temper tantrum is a better choice.  Hey, even the best behaved child has a bad day.

One last point, it is always a good idea to choose a restaurant close to home (Jonnie’s Sticky Buns, Baraka Bakery).  Walking to and from will help work up an appetite.  A short drive time will ensure that you have not used up your child’s good behaviour on the car-ride over.  A spacious parking lot (Confusion Corner, Clay Oven) where you can load and unload the rinky-dinks safely, is a key point too.

Brooklyn’s Bistro named their restaurant after their daughter.  There are images of her on the wall and the food is excellent.  I would put them on my family friendly list, if I were you.  So too, Bistro 7 ¼ where they make whatever a child would like to eat.  One time, the staff even ran to Safeway for chicken to make chicken fingers). Kids love to watch Chef Alex cook and I have seen his son help out in the restaurant with his own pair of chef’s whites on. If you bring a baby around, Danielle will carry him/her while you eat.  They will also let kids draw on their chalkboard.  Now they know how to welcome a new generation of food lovers!

Kath’s quote: “Ask your child what he wants for dinner only if he’s buying.”-Fran Lebowitz

Love-that is all.

Winnipeg’s Culinary Arts Programs


I have a friend who is an instructor with the Winnipeg Technical College Culnary Arts Program.  On her teaching days, when her time over lunch is limited, I will meet her at the College to grab a bite together.  Not only is this time effective but I get to enjoy a delicious meal at a really reasonable cost.  The last time that we met, we missed the last portion of succulent looking chicken wings.  Instead, we opted for cheesy quesadillas.

In anticipation of our last lunch, K sent me the proposed lunch specials a week ago in a text.  A baked salmon fillet and angel hair pasta topped with a tequila lime compote.  I sent her this text in reply: “you had me at tequila”.  The fish and pasta portions were generous and although I had to add a pinch of salt, the taste was light and fresh.

I have taught blogging for the Louis Riel School Division and have had to attend meetings at their complex.  This is no hardship as they too have a Culinary Arts Program.  I have only tasted their baked goodies but I can give them high marks.  I have seen their food artistry exhibited at the food-service trade shows and they boast some very talented young chefs.

When my Mom was still able to lunch with friends, she and a couple of neighbours liked attending the monthly gourmet lunches put on by Kildonan East’s Culinary Arts Program.  Check out the menu for their next event:

Seafood Phyllo Napoleon
Saffron Cream Sauce & Tarragon Oil
Cornish Game Hen
Bulgur & Dried Fruit Stuffing
Oven Roast Root Vegetables
Luscious Berry Shortcake with Lemon Mousse

Being a foodie and an educator myself, I can’t help but boast about the culinary education programs that Winnipeg has to offer. I am sure that there are others, these are the only the ones that I am personally aware of. These schools not only provide an invaluable hands on education, but diners are treated to an affordable, nutritious and delicious culinary experience as a bonus.

Kath’s quote “I strongly believe that culinary love is not about having a French Passport, but about what you feel”-Albert Roux

Love-that is all.

News Cafe


If there was one single building where my personal worlds collide, it is at the News Cafe on Albert St.  Just this morning I was at an event hosted by the Advertising Association of Winnipeg entitled The Future of Traditional News Media according to Dan Lett.  I was interested in attending because my original and primary profession is as a Media Planner and what was said will help me make more educated choices on behalf of my clients.

But, ironically it is because of the changing face of traditional media, that I have had to reinvent myself as a blogger and social media expert.  The irony lies in the evidence that social media has had direct impact on traditional media especially because on line “news” deliverers are being provided content by “non-journalists” (of which I am one).  Just before I left my car for the presentation, I checked my email messages to find that the Huffington Post has picked up another one of my blog posts.  Much of the presentation was about the existence of platforms such as the Huffington Post and how they have developed an appetite for consumers wanting their news for “free”.  You can imagine what a challenge this is for the business model of an organization like the Winnipeg Free Press.

For me, my toast is buttered on both sides: I benefit from the good fortune that providing content for social media provides and I benefit by promoting the advantages that are delivered by traditional media to my clients. In addition, Dan Lett explained that the News Cafe is actually creating opportunities in journalism that never would have existed without the cafe, such as the inertia to build community and hear authentic anecdotes from politicians and celebrities that never would have been revealed in other realms.

AND The News Cafe serves food of course, which is another convergence of this whole scene and once again where my professions intercept.  Admission to the event included these delicious breakfasts (well at least I know that my ham and cheese omellette was delicious).  My breakfast dates let me photograph their plates too.  Imagine what it is like to dine with me…

 Kath’s quote: “All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society. We can vulgarize that society.  We can brutalize it.  Or we can help lift it to a higher level.”-William Bernbach

Love-that is all.

Chicken Paprika


There are times on Sundays when I enjoy getting supper ready in advance in case I have an afternoon commitment.  Such was the case this weekend when I was able to prepare this chicken dish right after lunch.

Just before all the kids arrived home I through the vegetables in the oven to roast and made a pot of broad egg noodles and another of brown rice.  Good thing I did, because this dish was such a big hit that even a double batch was completely consumed.  The sauce in particular was absolutely delicious when poured over the pasta or rice.

Chicken Paprika
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
When no fat sour cream is used this dish is a low fat option.
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, sliced into bite sized pieces
  • 1 T canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 T butter
  • 2 T paprika
  • ½ t salt
  • 2 c chicken stock
  • 1 T flour
  • 8 oz. no fat sour cream
  1. Saute chicken in canola until pink disappears, remove from pan and set aside (about 10 mins).
  2. In the same pan, saute onion in butter until translucent (about 5 mins).
  3. Season with paprika and salt.
  4. Add chicken stock, bring to a slow boil and then reduce heat to simmer.
  5. Mix flour with sour cream and then whisk into chicken stock mixture.
  6. Add chicken back to the skillet and continue to cook until chicken is heated through and the sauce thickens slightly.

Kath’s quote: “Its all about quality of life and finding a healthy balance between work and friends and family.” -Phillip Green

Love-that is all.

An Amazing Man at We Day In Winnipeg


I had a spectaular day at my second We Day event in Winnipeg.  I was awed and humbled to be in the room with one of the greatest men who has ever lived: President Mikhail Gorbachev.  Through his interpreter and as a result of questions from Free the Children Founder Craig Kielburger, he shared that his own life was riddled with war and hunger but that he has been given the “gift of a happy life”.  He attributes this happiness to his hard work and that even very early in his life, he knew that he wanted to learn and make a difference.  This, in spite of living in the middle of nowhere with no electricity or telephone.  He never boarded a train until he was 20 years old.

He imparted these words of wisdom to the 18,000 school aged kids who sat quietly with respect and reverence:

“Don’t allow anyone to divide, because some exploiters will try to.

Never fear those who are trying to intimidate you.  Be on the side of the truth.

Honesty, justice and the truth.  This is what we want.”

He referred back to his contribution to the dissolution of the cold war with US President Ronald Reagan.  He recalls saying to President Reagan:

“A nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought.”

He added: “We need to move towards a world without nuclear weapons.  We need to rid the world of the militarization of politics, of civilization.”

When asked about his hopes for his great granddaughter (4 years old):

“I want her to live in a world free and just, in friendship and co-operation.”

And then in conclusion, he said to the crowd:

“Be brave, be courageous”.

The hushed silence had ended, the crowd roared in appreciation.

I was so impressed with so many other speakers but as a food blogger, I was particularly thrilled with the following new Free the Children announcement:

The PotashCorp of Saskatoon has come on board.  “The partnership includes the introduction of an Agriculture and Food Security pillar to Free The Children’s long-term and sustainable Adopt a Village program, which helps lift rural communities in developing countries out of poverty through long term sustainable infrastructure and programming. PotashCorp is the Founding Partner of Free The Children’s fifth Adopt a Village pillar, which joins the program’s four existing pillars of Education, Health, Clean Water and Sanitation and Alternative Income and Livelihood. The Agriculture and Food Security pillar will be added to programming in all eight of Free The Children’s Adopt a Village countries: India, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Ecuador, Kenya, Haiti, Ghana and rural China.”

Kath’s quote: “In the last analysis civilization is based upon the food supply.”-
Will Durant

Love-that is all.

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