Oct/Nov 2015 Feb/Mar 2015 - Page 16

inthekitchen feisty on ice Chef Mandel Hitzer of deer + almond harnesses free spirited energy into border-crossing tastes and boundarypushing culinary adventures. by Arvel Gray “I fell in love with flavours at the age of nine,” Mandel Hitzer says. He fondly remembers his grandmother and mother filling the kitchen with the intoxicating aromas of bread baking, roast beef, and Yorkshire pudding. By the time he was a teenager Mandel was cooking for his four siblings, smitten with the pleasure of creating good, simple food. That childhood passion is now at play at deer + almond, a 68-seat restaurant in the heart of Winnipeg’s Exchange District, where seven days a week chef Hitzer serves up tapas-style dishes that challenge culinary convention with a clever mix of global styles and ingredients. The ‘almond’ in the restaurant’s name is the German translation for Mandel. The deer is a symbol of nature’s elegance, a description that applies to his menu as well as the sleek and inviting decor. Thick wooden slabs for tables and a scattering of antlers pair with potted plants and modern art. There’s sparkle from polished barware and suspended filament bulbs, glittering like frost in a forest. “Sharing food is a tradition that is replicated in every culture around the world,” says Hitzer, whose strong sense of the global community seeps into his menu planning: he’ll pair rabbit ragout with herb gnocchi, Manitoba pickerel with Hungarian sausage, and Alberta lamb with pumpkin curry, coconut and bamboo shoots. While trying to source as much local and national produce as possible, Hitzer also leans on the palates of Asian cuisines, where clean, pure flavours hold sway on the dinner plate. 14 ciao! / feb/mar / two thousand fifteen