In 2013 with only a dream, a chef and a designer set out to create a temporary tasting room on the frozen river during the coldest months Winnipeg has to offer. Seems crazy? It was. With dedication and perseverance, Joe Kalturnyk and Mandel Hitzer made the concept a reality. Six years and counting, the event has grown in size and scope. The culinary project has expanded to rural and urban locations around the world from the bustling Japanese metropolis, Tokyo, to the remote polar bear capital of the world, Churchill.
RAW:almond brings chefs from across Canada and around the world to Winnipeg and the event has been an annual sell-out since its inception. The project has been featured in the New York Times, the Globe and Mail, Condé Nast Traveler, USA Today, Maclean's, Eater and more with numerous food bloggers and culinary tourists visiting RAW:almond annually. The 2017 season was the first to see RAW:almond launch in four locations with RAW:Tokyo (Oct 2017), RAW:Gimli (Dec 2017-Jan 2018), RAW:almond (Jan 2018) and RAW:Churchill (Mar 2018).
RAW:almond excitedly prepares to unveil its 2018 / 2019 season in late summer 2018.
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Mandel Hitzer has been in the culinary industry for more than 20 years. His career transformed while working under Chef Makoto Ono at then, Winnipeg-based restaurant, Glutton's. Soon after, he was invited to cook and design menus at Fresh Cafe and Pizzeria Gusto before opening deer + almond, his first concept in Winnipeg's historic Exchange District. Since it began in 2012, deer + almond has been twice-named one of Canada's 100 Best restaurants (2017, 2018) and received numerous accolades from food critics and fans alike for the restaurant's food, atmosphere and culture. Mandel has also spent time learning in kitchens around the world including Danny Bowien's famed Mission Street Chinese (San Francisco) and Michelin-starred, New York hotspot, Contra.
Trained as an architect, Joe Kalturnyk is the founding director of RAW:Gallery of Architecture and Design. One of the few galleries in Canada focused on contemporary architecture and design, the concept proudly features architects, designers and artists. The gallery has been nominated for outstanding programming and featured in local and national publications. RAW:Gallery enjoyed its tenure as a gallery space Winnipeg's Exchange District until 2015. Today, it operates as a collaborative architectural design, art and community-based organization in Canada and abroad.