From every angle of it, the business was crafted from scratch. The construction, everything was custom.
—Jon Hochman, Fitzroy Chef/Owner
It's usually the food on the plate that will have chefs jealous of a new restaurant.
But in the case of Fitzroy, slated to open next week at 102 Sherbrook, it may be their brand new open kitchen, which flaunts an array of gastronomic gadgetry.
Dustin Pajak and Kris Ade in the Fitzroy's new, state of the art kitchen. (Mike Green)
"The thing we are trying to focus on is being as humble as possible," said chef de cuisine Dustin Pajak.
"When you walk in, you see all types of interesting equipment, but we use everything for a certain point."
Lord knows how much it cost to turn this former condo showroom into a 38-seat restaurant.
Chef/owner Jon Hochman only said, "a lot" when I asked how much has been invested. But one look at the kitchen -- from the immersion circulator and vacuum packer, Rational oven, Chemex Coffee Maker, salamander broiler, and the eye-catching Urban Cultivator (which is currently growing microgreens for their various dishes), you'll know that this young crew means business.
"It may be an expensive Rational [their steam oven which retails for around the same price as a family car] but it's the smartest piece of equipment for us to sell brisket, and we plan on selling quite a bit of it, so we need something to maintain that," said Pajak.
Fitzroy is the brain-child of Hochman (27), and takes its namesake from a neighbourhood in Melbourne he frequented. Working alongside him in the open kitchen will be Pajak (24), sous chef Kris Ade (31), who will be making all the cocktails, and Rodrigo Herrera (35), who will run the front of house.
"From every angle of it, the business was crafted from scratch. The construction, everything was custom." said Hochman.
"We get that it looks cool and nice but we really want a neighbourhood eatery -- that's the feel we are going for," Hochman continued.
Warm red walls compliment the "industrial chic" aesthetic of Fitzroy. (Mike Green)
The room is sleek, yet inviting; a bar cut from a 1000 pound piece of wood from the Virden airport hangar frames the glistening kitchen, while the orange/red walls add some warmth.
You also won't find a chef coat in the kitchen, instead the guys will be wearing custom made industrial style aprons over their shirts.
And even though the equipment on display might smack of molecular gastronomy, Hochman assured me there won't be much in the way of foams, spheres, or vats of liquid nitrogen making the rounds.
The tidy à la carte menu of contemporary comfort food includes dishes like sticky pork with corns and crackling, cured trout with apples, rocket and yogurt, and stems of broccoli in spicy condiment.
"The best way to describe it is handcrafted, product driven food," said Hochman.
The only thing they aren't making in-house right now is the yogurt, although they plan to in the future.
Fitzroy will be open seven days a week, from 11 a.m. until late -- which means 2 a.m. if the place is still pumping. The same menu runs all day and night with no pre-set tables, making it an approachable spot for lunch, dinner, beers and a pretzel, or simply some really good coffee. You can also reserve a table from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
After 18 months of building, planning and applying for permits, Fitzroy should finally be opening next week, although they have had delays in the past.
And while the guys are anxious to start serving, I'll say that even more so Winnipeg has been waiting for a room like this.