1. Renée Girard (Harth Mozza and Wine Bar)
2. Ana Damaskin (Capital Grill & Bar)
3. Chris Gama (Clementine) / Christa Bruneau-Guenther (Feast) / Pamela Kirkpatrick (Forth) (tie)
Voted by The Globe and Mail as one of Canada’s next top chefs, Manitoban Renée Girard gives insight into one of her favourite dishes to cook.
“Pasta is my one true love,” she jokes.
“I have always loved pasta, and at Harth Mozza and Wine Bar – which I am extremely lucky to work at and be surrounded by an amazing group of peers who are very supportive – their Italian (food) is like comfort food, and everything is handmade.”
Photo by Callie Lugosi
Girard notes that her family was the main influence in her culinary pursuit.
“I grew up on a family farm, so at a very young age, I was involved in food production and cooking,” she says. “My parents turned a barn into a restaurant, so that was my first experience working in culinary arts.”
On her culinary journey, the sous chef worked in various roles in restaurants to get where she is now.
“As a young adult, when I moved to the city after high school, I started working in restaurants almost immediately, and it was mostly front-of-house to begin with,” she says.
“Several years after that, I made the switch to back-of-house to start cooking, and I just fell in love with it completely.”
Girard says working with local farmers, along with people of integrity and passion, inspires her.
“Building healthy relationships with producers is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have as a cook,” she says.
“A lot of people are doing significant work within our community, and knowing your local farmer and supporting the community is of the utmost importance. I love (cooking with) fresh, local ingredients, not just for sustainability, but also for the people involved in it.”
Among the farmers she works with are her brother and sister-in-law who own Hearts and Roots, a small, organic-certified farm outside Elie, Man. Girard is an active volunteer with them throughout the year, and she helps them sell produce at the Downtown Winnipeg Farmers’ Market.