PR – Canada’s original Top Chef Dale MacKay returns to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; offering modern Canadian comfort food
Chef Dale MacKay – Saskatoon native and Canada’s original Top Chef Canada Winner, today announces the late summer 2013 opening of Ayden Kitchen & Bar in downtown Saskatoon. Situated in the beautiful, three-story brick McLean heritage building located at 265 3rd Avenue South, the ‘modern Canadian comfort food’ restaurant and bar space promises a large dining room and bar, a private dining/party room, fair-weather patio, huge catering kitchen, and an adjoining new-old-fashioned fresh market. The market, adjoining the restaurant but with its own storefront, will focus on house-made charcuterie, custom butchery, fresh cheeses and gourmet pantry items for take-away. The partially open kitchen will keep Chef in-view and in-touch with his guests.
Chef Dale MacKay is best known for his precision execution and presentation of technical French cuisine, however the Ayden Kitchen & Bar menu will be decidedly un-fancy. “After 18 years away, I am so happy to be back home where I belong. I bring my son Ayden with me, and everything I’ve learned travelling the world and cooking alongside great Chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Daniel Boulud,” says Chef MacKay.
“I am very proud of my prairie roots, and prouder still to introduce my hometown, family and friends to a fresh and modern take on everyday Canadian comfort foods,” says MacKay. “My vision for Ayden Restaurant & bar – both front and back of house – is a culinary reflection of how I see Saskatchewan today – built on rock-solid, dependable, hard-working Canadian prairie stock but with an, exciting, dynamic, contemporary vibe. Generous, relaxed, approachable, affordable, authentic. We will be all that and more.”
Canadians came to know Chef Dale MacKay and his charming young son Ayden during MacKay’s run-up to winning Food Network Canada’s ‘Top Chef Canada’, season one. Chef MacKay has always maintained that he entered the contest to prove to Ayden that, if you want something badly enough and you work hard, you can make your dreams come true. Opening Ayden Kitchen & Bar, named after his son, is indeed a dream come true for Chef MacKay. “I considered many other restaurant names, and many more were recommended to me, but Ayden is the centre of my world, so it makes sense that the restaurant I’ve finally come home to be named after my guy.”
The lunch, dinner, bar and catering menus are still in development but will offer a stable of extraordinary modern comforts. Several Top Chef Canada challenge-winning dishes will take pride of place on menus, and watch for Canadian bread-basket influences on Chef’s signature and award-winning dishes. Chef MacKay insists on sourcing locally whenever possible and creating daily features based on seasonal goodness from surrounding farms and markets. Substantial Craft Beer and Wine programs and a Bourbon Bar – all centred around food pairings and seasonal specials – will set Ayden’s apart from other food and beverage programs in the city.
The space, designed by Calgary interior designer Connie Young of ce de ce inc., will be honest and grounded. In Young’s words, “inspired by history and seasoned with innovation”. Seasoned elements like barn wood, weathered iron, worn leather, stamped tin, butcher block and milk glass, juxtaposed with stainless steel, ceramic and halogen. “Young is known for sense of place interiors that invite an emotional reaction,” says MacKay. “I cook for the same reasons – to make people happy and create wonderful memories. I think that Connie and I make a good team.”
The pair is starting from a good place in the historic building on 3rd Avenue South. The address has a friendly soul and a storied past. Built in 1912 by an ambitious young farmer from Iowa named O.M. Helgerson, the McLean building is currently home to Kevin and Melanie Boldt’s Souleio Foods. The couple, who introduced Saskatoon to the farm-to-fork concept will be closing Souleio on May 25, 2013, and re-directing all of their focus and energy on their beloved Pine View Farms. “I really respect what the Boldt’s are doing at Pine View, raising all-natural, free-range poultry and livestock, and I look forward to a long and successful preferred purveyor/chef relationship,” concludes MacKay.
Chef Dale MacKay brings with him to Saskatoon, some tenured colleagues; Christopher Cho as General Manager, Shaylah Lukas as Assistant Manager, Chef Nathan Guggenheimer as Executive Chef, and Jesse Zuber as Head Chef. All stellar restaurant talent, with world-class culinary resumes.
About Chef Dale MacKay
Chef MacKay’s resume, like his culinary style, is condensed and flavourful. Highlights include time spent as a private chef in Italy; as Executive Chef at an exclusive BC resort; protégé to Chef Gordon Ramsay at his restaurants in Tokyo, New York, and London; then as Executive Chef of Lumière, Vancouver’s Five Diamond, Four Star, Relais Gourmand establishment managed by New York Chef Daniel Boulud’s Dinex Group. At the age of 27, MacKay made culinary history as the youngest Grand Chef Relais & Chateaux in the world. In 2011, MacKay opened his own establishments, Ensemble Restaurant and Bar and Ensemble Tap, in Vancouver, British Columbia.
In July, 2011, he was voted Canada’s Top Chef, by the judging panel of Food Network Canada’s inaugural season of Top Chef Canada, which aired nationally (MacKay made history once again when the 13-episode series became the highest rated program in network history). In the spring 2013, Dale opted out of the big-rent, big-city culinary pressure cooker to move back to his hometown of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to re-plant his roots, raise his young son Ayden in a more relaxed environment, and to open Ayden Kitchen & Bar. When Chef MacKay is not in the kitchen, he and Ayden keep busy doing homework, exploring city restaurants and visiting with family and friends. MacKay is committed to passing his good fortune forward, mentoring at-risk youth, and working with aspiring young chefs.
The new Ayden Kitchen & Bar website is currently under construction. In the interim, please visit the www.aydenkitchenandbar.com web page to sign up for restaurant news and event invites, or follow Chef’s progress on Twitter.