Eighty-one Calgary restaurants are preparing for the city’s fifth annual Poutine Week, pairing with Mealshare and Poutine with Purpose, to provide meals to youths in need with every poutine purchased.
Creator and organizer of the event, Karen Richards, started out by organizing a “Poutine Crawl” in 2010, during which poutine-lovers travelled to six restaurants in one day for the dish.
After partnering with Mealshare in 2013, Richards expanded the crawl to a full week of dedicated poutine eating in many more participating restaurants.
Calgary community leader at Mealshare, Breanne Sich, said that Poutine Week is seven days out of the year that people can eat poutine completely guilt-free.
“Mealshare operates under a simple buy-one-give-one model that allows guests to turn their dining out into helping out,” Sich said. “Any time a guest orders a Mealshare-branded menu item, in this case a poutine, they receive their meal just as normal, but now, a youth in need will receive a simple, healthy meal, as well.
“This is a deliciously fun week that encourages Calgarians to try new types of poutine, visit new restaurants and give back to the community at the same time.”
A total of 8,000 poutines were sold during Poutine Week 2017, which means that 8,000 meals were given to youths in need. Richards said she is expecting this year’s total to be close to 2017, but is hoping to break last year’s record.
Calgary’s Poutine Week will officially begin on April 20 and will run until April 28.
Watch below: Chef Ryan O’Flynn and Breanne Sich from Mealshare joined Global Calgary with details on Poutine Week 2017.
Check out featured poutines from some of the participating restaurants below:
Bite Grocer and Eatery – Bite’s contribution to 2018’s Poutine Week features a Korean Pork Belly Poutine, which is made up of crispy Korean pork belly, gochugaru chili gravy, kimchi cheese curds and sweet potato fries.
The director of special projects at Bite, Amy Buckman, said the restaurant already has a couple of Mealshare items on their everyday menu, so getting involved in Calgary’s Poutine week was a no-brainer.
“Mealshare is doing such great work,” Buckman said. “Plus, we love what we do at Bite and it is a creative way to show new customers who we are and what we do. They come to visit, we make food, Mealshare feeds youth in need. A win-win-win.”
Waffles and Chix – This restaurant’s contribution is called the Fried Chicken Poutine, which is made with southern-fried chicken, fresh-cut fries, Alberta cheese curds and white country gravy.
This will be Waffle and Chix’s fourth year participating in Calgary’s Poutine Week, according to Iva Ivanova, the owner of the restaurant.
“We created the item when we were playing around with other dishes on the menu,” Ivanova said. “It’s Canadian specialty mixed with a little American.”
Calcutta Cricket Club – Calcutta Cricket Club is contributing two different poutine dishes for this year’s event. The first dish is the Chips and Curry Poutine, which is with Kashmiri-spiced fries and cheese curds with curry. The second dish is called the Butter Masala Poutine, which is a rich tomato base with cheese curds to finish.
Public relations and marketer at Calcutta, Caitlin Best, said 2018 will be the restaurant’s first time participating in Poutine Week, as the location has only been open for about a year.
“You can’t go wrong with good poutine and we love supporting our partners–like Mealshare–who are doing great things for the city,” Best said. “Last year, 8,000 poutines were sold in a week and this year we hope to help beat that number.”
Raw Bar – Raw Bar is featuring a poutine dish called the K-POP Poutine. The ingredients include twice-cooked Kennebec fries, Korean-style chorizo, brie gravy, Brewsters Hawaiian coconut porter, and gochujang ketchup.
“We’re always working to create bold and unique Asian-inspired cuisine and Poutine Week is an excellent opportunity to take something that people knew well and infuse it with new flavours,” said Christie Goss, marketing and media relations manager for Hotel Arts group.
Goss said the restaurant teamed up with Brewsters and CFL star Alex Singleton to create the Asian-inspired dish.
“Mealshare does outstanding work in our community and we’re happy to participate in an event that supports local community investment,” Goss said. “It’s a natural fit for us as a locally owned restaurant to support a worthy local cause and connect with other great local partners.”
MARKET – This participant’s contribution is a Braised Lamp Poutine, which includes MARKET fries, squeaky Montreal curds and lamb reduction jus with Last Best Dirty Bird Black Lager.
MARKET’s executive chef Evan Robertson has been personally involved in Poutine Week from the beginning, even winning the inaugural “Poutine Challenge.”
“Being the first focused event of (now) many culinary foodie weeks Calgary has, it is really cool to see that Poutine Week is still the front runner in planning, organizing and executing such a great fundraising event for Mealshare,” Robertson said. “It is always an honour to receive the email…being asked to be a part of Poutine Week.
“It’s something I look forward to each and every year.”
Browns Socialhouse Mount Royal – Browns Socialhouse is presenting the “I Yam Canadian Poutine” for this year’s event. The poutine is made with yam fries, fennel pork sausage, ground Alberta beef, smoked Gouda, cheese curds, scratch gravy and a drizzle of maple syrup.
General manager at Browns Socialhouse, Joshua Rimmer, said the entire kitchen staff was involved in developing the poutine dish, creating a team-building opportunity for them.
“It’s an effective and easy way to connect to the food community while giving back to a great cause at the same time,” Rimmer said. “The end result is a dish that is fun, a little over-the-top and definitely decadent.
“Who is counting calories when it’s for charity?”
The Beltliner – The Beltliner’s contribution is a Grilled BBQ Vietnamese Chicken Sub Poutine, made using cilantro, carrots, cream cheese, Sriracha mayonnaise, and BBQ chicken and fries.
Owner Brendan Bankowski said The Beltliner is a huge supporter of Mealshare and the restaurant donates around $500 a month to the charity.
“Our Clubhouse has been our Mealshare item for the last two years,” Bankowski said. “Great people doing great work.”
The Bank and Baron – This restaurant’s featured poutine is called the Pesto Chicken Poutine, and is made with grilled chicken, red onion, pesto, brie, roast garlic aioli, chicken gravy and beer-battered fries.
The event and marketing manager for the restaurant, Kelly Peniston, said Bank and Baron loves to participate in Poutine Week in order to support Mealshare.
“Poutine week is a great way to raise awareness about the topic of hunger in the city as well as encourage the people of Calgary to contribute in a fun and delicious way,” Peniston said. “Not only does it provide support for those in need, it seems to inspire creativity among the restaurants that participate.”
The Ladybug Cafe – The Ladybug Cafe is featuring a Crispy Skin Duck Poutine, for this year’s Poutine Week. Their poutine is made with crispy duck skin, Montreal cheese curds, a poached egg, hoisin, pickled radish and green onions on top of potato wedges and finished off with some hollandaise sauce.
Owner of the restaurant, Christine Barton, said the cafe’s success wouldn’t be possible without community support.
“This is another great event we are thrilled to be a part of where we can give back,” Barton said.
Trolley 5 – Trolley 5 Brewpub is contributing the Menage et Bacon poutine, which is made with hand-cut fries topped with cheese curds, Hey Porter bacon gravy, house-cured and smoked pork belly, and a bacon and smoked tomato jam.
“Poutine Week is another great way for us to give back to our community,” said Mallory Moser, marketing and brand manager at Trolley 5. “Plus, who doesn’t love some friendly competition? Especially when great food is involved.”
Moser said Trolley 5 has participated in the event for the past two years, adding the restaurant works closely with Mealshare throughout the year.
Ship & Anchor Pub – Ship & Anchor is featuring the Le Jerk Poutine this year, which is made with house-cut russets topped with jerk chicken, diced tomato, cilantro-chili oil, plantain chips, cilantro-lime crema, cheese curds and chicken gravy.
Nicola Trolez, marketing and promotions person for Ship & Anchor, said the restaurant has participated in Poutine Week for several years, and that the poutine dish sold at the pub is one of their top-selling menu items.
“We love to support any initiative that provides Calgarians with new options to enjoy,” Trolez said. “If there’s an opportunity to raise money by enjoying something people love, why not promote and be a part of that?”
Oak Tree Tavern – Oak Tree Tavern’s featured poutine for this year’s event is called the This Poutine has Two Humps. The dish is made of coconut-curried camel poutine.
The bar manager at Oak Tree Tavern, Cassy Wasylenko, said the restaurant has been participating in Calgary’s Poutine Week for four or five years now.
“We are doing a lot of gluten-free and vegetarian options at this time,” Wasylenko said. “We’re happy to support Mealshare in all that they do.”
Brasserie Kensington and Wine Bar Kensington – Brasserie Kensington is contibuting two poutine dishes for this year’s Poutine Week event. The first poutine, Lost In The Woods is made with Alberta cold-pressed canola oil frites, Alberta cheese curds, Dandy Brewing Jungle Bird Dark Sour pickled romanesco, mushroom gravy and crispy onion. Their second poutine is called the American Breakfast and it’s made with Alberta cold-pressed canola oil frites, breaded veal cutlet, Alberta cheese curds, white sausage gravy and a fried egg.
Wine Bar Kensington’s poutine dish is called the Not-So-Traditional Poutine, which is made with chicken gravy, pickle-brined shoestring fries, Alberta cheese curds and chives.
Owner of Brasserie Kensington and Wine Bar Kensington, Jacq Warrell, said the two restaurants have “always been kind of known for our poutines.”
“We love to support Mealshare,” Warrell said. “We think it’s a good cause and if our poutines can help someone else, then that is great.”
In addition to Poutine Week, Poutine with Purpose is hosting its third annual Gravy Bowl Competition. Teams made up of a chef, a Calgary Stampeder and a local brewery create poutines and go head-to-head in competition to sell the most meals for Mealshare throughout the week.
“Poutine Week really shows amazing participation and what a community-minded city Calgary is,” Richards said.
Watch below: Highlights from last year’s Poutine Week in Calgary