MAY 2015 UPDATE: I am sorry to report that Richard’s Hintonburg Kitchen is now closed. I am leaving this post up out of respect for hardworking Chef Richard. I wish him all the best in his private catering endeavours.
Expect both the familiar and the unique when Chef Richard Nigro opens his Hintonburg Kitchen in mid-March. There will be meatballs, soups, paninis, roasted meats and vegetables, flatbreads, crepes and more. There might also be congee and smoked melon granita. He will offer take away lunches and dinners, catering, snacks and indulgences, all in a style best described as worldly home cooking.
True to the Savour Ottawa ethic, menus will be dynamic, changing to suit Richard’s imagination and the best of whatever local ingredients he can source. “Of course the most popular items will appear regularly, though they may be tweaked with different ingredients. I plan to offer meatballs quite often, for example, but they might be traditional Italian one day, then lamb with couscous, mint and basil or Thai-seasoned the next. I expect the “balls of the day” will be quite a hit.”
The Hintonburg Kitchen will offer daily lunch and dinner items along with a pantry of prepared-from-scratch frozen foods for omnivores and vegetarians alike. For lunches, expect to find some of the following each day: salads, samosas, patties, flatbreads, wraps, hand rolls, paninis and soups. The dinner selections will include a daily roaster with sides (chicken, ribs, etc.) as well as smoked treats such as fish or pork, daily chef’s specials of which there will always be a vegetarian offering, and sometimes a vegan one as well.
There is a ‘green’ sensibility as well around the shop – Richard has been busy sourcing takeaway dishes that can go from freezer to microwave or oven, and which are compostable. “Ideally everything that leaves the shop will either be compostable, recyclable or reusable,” he explains. While he expects most customers to take their food back to home or office, he is offering a few perches in the shop for those who simply cannot wait to tuck in.
A seasoned chef with a quirky sense of humour, Richard is also a passionate researcher and proud owner of an impressive collection of cookbooks. He is planning to share his lifelong passion for food in a variety of ways, including through planned “kitchen parties”, which will take the form of cooking classes and teambuilding sessions.
The food will surely be as delightful as those who have followed Richard’s culinary path would expect, in a casual, relaxed environment. “I believe of all the professional cooking I have done, my Hintonburg Kitchen will be the most reflective of me. I even built some of the shop’s fixtures myself! I am particularly looking forward to having a direct connection with the people I am cooking for – it’s going to be fun. This will be a wonderful playground for me to help people explore great food served up in interesting ways.”
You can keep tabs on information about Richard’s Hintonburg Kitchen via the soon-to-be-launched website: www.hintonburgkitchen.ca or on Facebook. For those who prefer, peer in the windows at 1202 Wellington Street West to watch the progress as Richard steams towards his anticipated mid-March opening.