Pop-up restaurant gives reason to brave the cold

tom yum

By Brenlee Coates

Chef Alexander Svenne of Bistro 7 ¼ had a sense of humour about the chilly temperature at the river pop-up restaurant, RAW:almond.
He served an ice cream dish to close off the meal to the bundled patrons gathered on a frozen river.
The serving included a homemade quinoa cookie, caramelized pear, and cardamom ice cream to which he added hot tea to warm up the dish, thankfully. By the end of the course, the ingredients had conspired into a tasty chai-flavoured drink.

The cardomom ice cream dessert conspired into a chai-like novelty drink.
The cardomom ice cream dessert conspired into a chai-like novelty drink.

For $100 plus tax, food lovers in Winnipeg were given the elusive opportunity to enjoy a five-course meal on the frozen intersection of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers.
The radical concept is the brainchild of Mandel Hitzer, chef/owner of the Exchange District’s deer + almond eatery, along with neighbouring business RAW:Gallery’s Joe Kalturnyk.
Dressed in down jackets, fur-lined boots and gloves, patrons of the restaurant sat huddled close to one another at a communal table inside a slightly heated tent. The local 0812 Building Solutions Inc. built the wooden table, charred black with torches, and a kitchen area that featured cut-out walls so diners could see the food being prepared.
This winter marked the second year of the pop-up restaurant, which was open for a three-week run in January and February. A tapas-style menu, new this year, was available for a $45 price tag, allowing for simultaneous seatings.
Another popular feature is the $22 breakfast on weekends by Talia Syrie, chef at the Come ‘N Eat Café in Neechi Commons. She even offered a $7 walk-up breakfast where you get coffee, hot chocolate and a breakfast bar. The various offerings allow diners with any budget to experience the unusual occasion at The Forks.
The tent structure is the realization of Kalturnyk’s, the co-founder of Winnipeg’s coldest restaurant. He designed the white tent to mimic a naturalistic chunk of ice popping up from the frozen river.
While there are heat limitations on the enclosure, as melting could call safety into question, the warm atmosphere of the dining experience completely distracts from the cold – not to mention the meals dreamed up by some of Winnipeg’s finest chefs.
The chefs play host on three nights as the featured chef, and describe their dishes and the inspiration behind them to guests. Hitzer is the only mainstay – he caters to the crowd and kitchen for the length of the run.
Chef Svenne presented his mother’s chicken liver recipe first, with homemade soda crackers and pickles. He said he’s been making the same style pâté since he was cooking with his mom at age four.

Chef Alex's famed liver pate.
Chef Alex’s famed liver pate.

Next, he served a snail tom yum soup, with healthy slices of julienne ginger, carrots, cucumber and mushrooms. The soup broth was merely lukewarm, which was deliberate though the environment wouldn’t allow for much else.
His next offering was a mustard tasting spread, with seven types of homemade mustards, including a beer mustard and tangy, apricot mustard. Homemade rye bread and an impossibly tender slice of roast beef accompanied the dollops of mustard.

The mustard tasting dish had an array of flavours and tons of heat.
The mustard tasting dish had an array of flavours and tons of heat.

The main was a breaded ham hock with soft egg, atop a bed of pickled cabbage. A mushroom sauce grazed the plate along with a stalk of broccolini.

The beautiful piece de resistance, ham hock on pickled cabbage.
The beautiful piece de resistance, ham hock on pickled cabbage.

Seventeen chefs participated in stints at the restaurant, with some celebrity chefs joining the local lineup. Hitzer said the annual collaboration heavily influences the partipating chefs’ year-round menus.
This year, the biggest inspiration stems from Hitzer’s philanthropy. He spent the entire run of the pop-up restaurant sleeping in a tent on the river confluence right next to the restaurant. His efforts raised funds for three local charities: the Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg, the Resource Centre for Manitobans who are Deaf-Blind, and FortWhyte Alive.

Lots of bad DayZ in zombie apocalypse

DayZBy Stephan Bazzocchi

Not often does one hear the legendary phrase uttered, “My kingdom for a can opener.” In this game, you find that it is said about every 10 minutes or so. Such is life after the zombie apocalypse in DayZ. I tend to think of myself as a rather level-headed person: one who can think quickly and logically in the event of a crisis. I found that I was wrong.
You log into the game, finding yourself at most times on the coast of the beautiful Russian landscape. Equipped with a flashlight, a battery, and the clothes on your back. Your first thoughts generally tend to be: “Wow, I set the graphics to low and this game still looks good.” You spend some time admiring the detail of the Arma engine that DayZ is built on, until you are interrupted by a message in the lower left-hand corner that plainly says: “I am feeling thirsty.”
The urgency doesn’t fully manifest itself until you realize that you cannot drink sea water. Then, still optimistic, you set off to find some drinkable water in a deserted town that you can faintly see down the road. Deserted save for the zombies.
DayZ is a test, at times a study of how far sociopaths will go.
When your life in the game depends on finding that ever-elusive can opener, you will go quite far. In the course of the several days I have been playing, I have found countless cans of sardines, spaghetti, and beans. All requiring that most precious of kitchen utensils. I found a can of tuna once, and thankfully it had a pull tab to open it. Suffice to say until I find a can opener, I will sustain myself on the rotten fruit that is found everywhere, even though it will make me ill.
Sadly the game won’t allow me to use the axe I found to chop open a can. Nor will it allow me to use the hammer. Maybe that other player coming towards me wearing a gas mask, full military fatigues, and sporting a rifle with a bayonet attached will have a can opener I can borrow. Then again, he might be just luring me into a trap. I have heard of such things, roving bands of rogues handcuffing and forcing their captives to fistfight to the death – the victor being executed shortly thereafter, their equipment looted.
DayZ isn’t for the faint of heart, and I don’t mean in terms of the level of graphic blood. The degradation of moral society is what gets you. The sheer hopelessness of finding that can opener so you don’t starve to death. Realizing you can only carry one backpack and you have no room for that canteen you found. Or realizing you are out of shirts to rip into makeshift bandages to stop you from bleeding to death after that last round of boxing against zombies you took part in.
And all this from a game that is still in development. One that has grown out of a mod for another game. One that makes you re-evaluate your zombie apocalypse plan (I know you all have one).
Again, it’s on Steam Early Access. It’s still in beta. It’s under $25. Not that money will have much value in this world. Take my advice: after you get this game, stock up on can openers in the real world. You just never know.

Winter cyclists deserve recognition

Although challenging, winter cycling has its proponents.  Photo by David Blaine
Although challenging, winter cycling has its proponents.
Photo by David Blaine

Brenlee Coates

We’ve all seen them: they’re on two tires, relegated to the corners of the road where the incline to the snowbanks begins.
Likely, they have icicles dangling from any of their exposed skin or facial hair, and they look like they’re taking part in an extreme sport rather than just making their morning commute to work or class.
These committed winter warriors are the winter cyclists, often dreaded by motorists for the risk of collision. But what about their rights to the road?
Frustrated by being constantly outranked by motorists, winter cyclists teamed up by the dozen to stage a “shovel-in”; they took to clearing a pedestrian bridge themselves that links St. Boniface to Elmwood and Transcona over the Seine River.
The shoveling team – volunteers with Bike Winnipeg – attest that the critical trail hasn’t been cleared all winter, in addition to other routes regularly used by cyclists and pedestrians. They hoped the protest would show the city that snow clearance is important to their active community, and that it is unfair that they can’t expect to use a bike route safely without shoveling a path for themselves.
Bike Winnipeg executives say the active commuters save the government money due to their health-conscious lifestyles, and deserve at least better roadway and bike path snow clearance. In the future, they’d also like to be included in road condition reports.
What used to seem like a relatively small, guerilla group of riders has become a marginalized community, along with pedestrians and transit users.
The snowbanks at bus stops are often packed down at best by other recent commuters, and the leap off the bus is a wobbly one. Elderly people or persons with disabilities are especially disadvantaged by the high banks and snow-covered sidewalks.
Recent rapid transit improvements are noted, but in our winter city, we need to include timely snow clearance at bus stops to make the services useful and safe.
On the heels of the “shovel-in” by cyclists, Winnipeg played host to the second International Winter Cycling Congress. People from all over North America and Europe came to share how winter cycling works and is viewed in their cities.
In Canada, the highest number of non-motorists in an urban centre occurs in Whitehorse. Montreal was one of the first Canadian cities to plan a network of cycle tracks, which define bike/pedestrian lanes with a physical barrier, protecting the commuters. Many innovations that come to the aid of cyclists also solve issues for motorists, pedestrians and persons with disabilities.
In Scandinavia, Northern Finland and Sweden, winter cycling is widespread. In Copenhagen, Denmark, which has cycle tracks, record snowfall in 2010 caused the city to ration salt, and since cycling is so prominent and the cyclists simply persisted, the city prioritized the cycle tracks over the roads.
There is much to learn from international cities on how they accommodate their winter cyclists, and Winnipeg needs to catch up.
Cycling is often viewed as a necessity for its proponents. It is often an economically driven choice, or a matter of sustainability. It has health, environmental and economic benefits.
Winter cycling has too many things going for it to simply ignore the issue and allow the cyclists to continue at their own risk. It’s time for the city to rally and support our winter athletes.

City planning on the rise

WinnipegBy Tania Moffat

Urban planners are crucial to the healthy development of our cities and communities. With more concentrated efforts on sustainability and the environmental effects of land use and population growth, their roles are becoming increasingly diversified and important. In Winnipeg, over the last 40 years, we’ve consumed land at almost two-and-a-half times our rate of population growth – meaning that as a city, we are consuming valuable resources at our own expense.
One way planners are working to combat this problem is by collaborating with teams of other professionals and developers to breathe new life into our downtown. Investment in our core has skyrocketed over the last several years, and new developments are helping to increase our population density. Planners contribute to this process in numerous ways. They may be part of the planning process: writing or studying proposals, researching cause and effect, mediating, working with the community, and creating new bylaws or policies for future development. Planners also address issues of sustainability, economics, housing, transportation, infrastructure, and social and heritage concerns.

Training and certification

The oldest planning program in Canada remains active and is located right here in Winnipeg at the University of Manitoba. For over fifty years, the university has been educating students to work in urban planning by offering both planning theory and practice in the only accredited master’s program in the province.
Entry to the planning profession typically starts with the completion of a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accredited planning program. Many planners who obtain their master’s degree in planning often hold undergraduate degrees in other related fields such as architecture, landscape architecture, economics, or engineering to name a few. The accredited undergraduate-level planning programs in Canada offer a more direct entry route to the profession. After obtaining a degree in planning, there is a process of certification as a professional planner, which is administered by the Professional Standards Board for the Planning Profession in Canada (PSB).
Students need to determine if they are more interested in physical planning or policy making, and if they would prefer to work in the private sector or for the government. Hazel Borys, managing principal at PlaceMakers, LLC, finds that most of Manitoba’s recent grads end up working for the province or city. In the short term, at least, she sees this trend continuing as there are not many private firms who offer strictly planning services.
A solid understanding of government policy, regulations, and statistics are required, but the most important thing for young planners to master, according to Borys, is the ability to bring people together. “They need to be able to facilitate, moderate, and communicate.”
“Technical skills and website and design knowledge are also highly sought after,” states Andrew Sacret, director of policy and public affairs at the Canadian Institute of Planners.

Experience

“Young grads are not short on great ideas. The biggest thing they are lacking is experience,” explains Borys. “Often city planning efforts stretch their budgets, and therefore, do not end up hiring students because they need someone with more experience.”
Her company, PlaceMakers, does most of its work through charrettes with an online companion, iCharrette. Charrettes are collaborative sessions held in-person or online for the entire team – which may include planners, architects, engineers, artists, economists, as well as finance and communications experts. “Often students will volunteer to join a charrette in order to gain experience. Some universities will organize their own charrettes for students to rewrite policies and bylaws or to draft master plans for the urban redesign of neighbourhoods to build the students’ portfolio of invaluable real world experiences.”
Students are also encouraged to travel. “You need to walk the streets. See what makes cities competitive, what gives them advantages, and what makes them compelling for people to live and work in,” says Borys.
Another obstacle facing inexperienced grads is caused by the way in which planning is structured in Manitoba. “It is more of a negotiated process which makes it harder for a new grad. The transparent development bylaws, policies and pillars of community that exist in cities like Vancouver are not as old and well-established here,” she explains.
In addition to increasing their level of experience, Sacret recommends that students keep up-to-date on current affairs and get involved with community organizations. By building contacts, being open to travel and working abroad, and participating in the Canadian Association of Planning Students, they can gain further experience.
Ultimately, new grads should pursue membership and certification with the Manitoba Professional Planners Institute and the Canadian Institute of Planners to obtain professional credentials, access to networking opportunities, job boards and resume posting, and other opportunities to increase their knowledge.
Urban planners today need to work with the entire community. “It’s not just drawing lines and buildings and working behind the walls of city hall,” says Alan Freeman, a former city planner in London, UK. “We can’t think about cities the way we used to. People are starting to use their cities in very new ways. This is the difference between space and place. A space can be anything – a town square, the river walk at the Forks, a hallway – but when you have a conception of what is going to happen there, that is when you get place.”
“Creating this difference between space and place is essentially the job of a city planner. They must conceptualize not only the space but how that space will be utilized by the people in the community, creating a place that people will love. This is how our modern cities have become attractive places to live in.”

Handling horrible bosses

FrustratedBy Josie Howard

If you’ve never had a horrible manager, you’re probably in the minority. Everyone at some point in his or her career will have a boss they can’t stand. We all love to hate our bosses, but if employee-manager relations make you dread getting out of bed and are preventing you from working effectively and professionally, it may be time to consider taking action.
There are two types of horrible bosses: the ones who know they’re being difficult and don’t care, and the ones who have no clue their managerial style is impacting others negatively.
Bosses in the first category may believe that humiliating, demeaning and yelling at employees is fine; that’s how they get the job done.
The other kind of boss doesn’t know that their behaviour is harmful. They may think their micromanaging is helpful and gives their employees direction, or that their hands-off approach is more liberating to others. This boss may also lack training and experience and therefore feels overwhelmed.
The steps to dealing with any difficult bosses are the same, but the way you approach them may be slightly different depending on their personalities. Here are the tools you need to improve your working environment and your relationship with your boss.
1. Write down the problems.
When we’re frustrated and upset, our emotions run high. We tend to exaggerate how bad things are because we’re not thinking clearly. Once you’ve cooled off, make a list of the problems you’re experiencing, giving specific examples. A boss may ask you when a certain behaviour specifically occurred.
2. Be part of the solution.
Now that you’ve outlined what needs to change, how is the boss going to change it? Managers don’t like being faced with a list of problems – it can make the employee look like a whiner. By coming up with solutions to the problems, you look proactive. If the manager isn’t giving direction, ask for a weekly or monthly review of your work. If the manager is talking down to you, ask them to maybe avoid certain language or offer constructive criticism instead.
3. Meet the boss.
This is the most difficult and nerve-wracking part. Plan a meeting with your boss. Don’t broach these issues in the hall or during another meeting, but deal with them separately. Calmly state what has been bothering you about their management style, giving your examples. Use “I feel” statements: “I feel like you sometimes talk down to me…” These statements seem less accusatory and soften the blow. Wait and listen to their rebuttal and then offer your solutions. Ask the manager how you can help to reach these goals. In many cases your manager may be shocked to hear what you have to say. They may explode, but let them get it out and remain calm and collected.
4. Taking it to the next level.
Now wait to see if your suggestions have made a difference. If not, it may be time to take your concerns to the next level. Approach your boss’ boss or human resources in the same way. Present your concerns, examples, and suggestions. Now wait some more. It may take them a few weeks to implement changes.
5. Bringing in reinforcements.
If there’s still no difference, gather together colleagues who have experienced the same thing and want change. Present your concerns to HR or your boss’ boss as you did before. Again, allow time to pass so the issues can be dealt with.
6. Looking for other options.
If nothing changes, it’s time to look elsewhere. Consider transferring to another department or job within the company where you won’t have to deal with this particular supervisor. If this isn’t possible, then it’s time to look for other employment opportunities.
Remember, you have the right to a professional work environment where you feel comfortable and safe. Don’t let a bad boss get the better of you. Address the situation and create a better workplace.