Wednesday, 24 June 2015

"The Grand Feast" Pop Up at Dundurn Castle

On May 8th, we were thrilled to present our most opulent, unforgettable Pop Up event to date: a five-course tasting experience at Hamilton's historic Dundurn Castle with VG Meats, Rosewood Estate Winery and Nickel Brook Beer.  This "Grand Feast" featured extraordinary chefs Mark Farrugia (La Piazza Allegra), Jonny Blonde (Jonny Blonde Food Truck), and Paddy Townsend (Spencer's on The Waterfront) and chefs from VG Meats preparing innovative, tantalizing dishes using VG Meats products and paired with Rosewood Estate Wines and Nickel Brook "Cause and Effect" Pale Ale.  Photo recap below and don't miss our next event on July 4th, Pop Up: Downton Downtown, a celebration of the cuisine of Downton Abbey!



Ready for our Pop Up guests!


Our regal tent at Dundurn Castle with 2016 BMWs on display (courtesy of Budds' BMW)


Guests arrive and are greeted by members of the Steel City Rovers Mark Fletcher and Drew Skuce





We may have went a little overboard on security for The Grand Feast (courtesy of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police)





















Mark Fletcher and Drew Skuce of the Steel City Rovers








Beef liver pâté w black summer truffle on a bilini with shaved cured duck egg yolk




Seared flat iron steak w black cherry Demi glaze, blue cheese and caramelized onions served in a "golden cup" w arugula and  scalloped potato (Jonny Blonde)



5 ounce grilled strip, lager and honey braised rapini and sweet potato/goat cheese purée topped with aged bone jus









Our all-start chefs with the Van Gronigen family (VG Meats)


Another smashing Pop Up event! Mad love to all who attended and looking forwards to seeing you at Pop Up: Downton Downtown on July 4th!

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Why You Need To Put Ken Lefebour's "The Happening Too" on June 6th In Your Calendar Right Now!

On June 6th, culinary maestro Ken Lefebour is hosting a phenomenal event that showcases exceptional local food, art. music, dance and much more at the Hamilton Spectator auditorium. Tickets are available now at the Hamilton Spectator customer service desk or at Nellie James Gourmet Food To Go in Dundas.  Please note, if this is all the information you need to attend what will surely be one of the summer's great events, stop reading and go get your tickets.  If you need a little more information read our love letter to Ken below (or in Hamilton Magazine's December 2014 issue)



In our previous life, we hosted one-night only tours of great Hamilton area dining destinations by neighbourhood where we featured four great local eateries who each provided three samples of signature dishes.  These events were very well attended and always a lot of fun but there is ONE stop that has stayed with us as a culinary oasis and that is our stop at Nellie James Gourmet Food To Go in Dundas.  In truth, chef Ken Lefebour's small but mighty location has no seating of any kind ("Gourmet Food To Go") and is hardly equipped to host 40+ culinary adventurers.  In fact, Ken was a last minute add to our tour.  In spite of this and with minimal preparation time, Ken transformed the green space behind Nellie James into an elegant garden party setting AND elected to forever raise the restaurant tour experience bar by serving this:
  1.  Roasted “Koike Farm” Zucchini with Saint Mary’s Unripened Goat Cheese, Basil and Pickled Watermelon Rind (pictured below)
  2. Local Candy Cane Beet with In-House Hickory Smoked Chicken Breast, Red Wine Syrup and Fried Bella Vitano Cheese
  3. ”Jepson Meats” Naturally Raised Pork Tenderloin on a Blue Cheese Biscuit with Bourbon Reduction and Lamb Jelly



Thus began our love affair with an extraordinary chef.  He has been the feature chef at two Pop Up Hamilton events; a television mainstay; featured in countless articles in magazines and newspapers and is easily one of the most in-demand caterers. 

The Happening Too

If we had only reason to attend 'The Happening Too', it would be the exquisite cuisine.  Known as an enthusiastic champion and supporter of local farms and food providers, Ken's dishes feature the very best our local farmers and growers have to offer prepared by a chef that truly understand flavours, balance and tasting experience without being afraid of bold, delicious experimentation.




If we need another reason (we really don't), the fact that it's a celebration of incredible local artists like the soulful Laura Cole, troubadour/chanteuse Mimi Shaw, rockabilly sensation Burnin' Ethyl, a slew of visual artists, dance and much, much more.

As event producers, we could just rave about the positively electric excitement surrounding The Happening Too and what is sure to be an unforgettable evening but actions speak louder than words so we'll simply say "We wouldn't miss this experience for anything!"

Hope to see you there, Hamilton!

Monday, 25 May 2015

Pop Up: Downton Downtown July 4th! Tickets On Sale Now!!!


We invite the Lords and Ladies of Hamilton to a Downtown Abbey-themed celebration of great cuisine and fabulous wine!  Join us as we create a one-night only four course dining experience worthy of the table of post-Edwardian Yorkshire in an unforgettable and period appropriate location.  Each course of this authentic culinary experience will be paired with an exceptional wine and, as always, expect a few surprises!


Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Your Mom Deserves an UNFORGETTABLE Mothers' Day Gift: Pop Up Tickets for Two!

Last year, we offered Mothers' Day Pop Up Hamilton gift certificates  and they were a runaway hit!  We were fortunate enough to meet many of your wonderful Moms at our events since then and we thought we'd do it again!
 
We have a (very, very) limited number of Mothers' Day gift certificate packages that includes all inclusive admission for 2 to any Pop Up Hamilton event in a gift bag with a special treat. (No less than 4 courses of phenomenal cuisine and pairings)
 
Mothers' Day gift certificates are available for $190 (a savings of $37.08 off our regular ticket pricing) payable by e-transfer until they are gone! Deliveries will be made to any address in the Hamilton/Burlington area no later than Thursday, May 7th.
 
 

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

What IS It About "The Aberdeen Tavern"? A Loving Birthday Analysis from Pop Up Hamilton


 
Our love of The Aberdeen Tavern is a matter of public record.  When they opened their doors a year ago on Aberdeen  Avenue at Dundurn, there were some in Hamilton that questioned the wisdom of their chosen location.  It wasn’t like a restaurant hadn’t been in the architecturally stunning former bank but with every new eatery jockeying to find a space in Hamilton’s hot downtown core or Locke Street, opening an upscale-yet-casual eatery that serves chef-inspired comfort foods; a wide selection of craft beers & remarkably innovative (and delicious) cocktails in an area where there were none at all was ambitious, to say the least.  One year later and The Aberdeen Tavern has not only succeeded in attracting legions of regular customers (who are easily their greatest champions) but has built such truly impressive momentum that their star will only continue to rise. 

So what IS it about The Aberdeen Tavern that has captured the hearts and palates of so many Hamiltonians, out-of-town guests, celebrities, politicos and foodies alike?  We took a moment to analyze what has led to their unparalleled success…

 

1) Consistency in Execution One of the most fascinating discoveries in the field of consumer research in the last few years is that consistency in execution is, in many ways even more important than delivering memorable customer experiences in a single interaction.  Imagine two restaurants: the first is known for attentive, knowledgeable serving staff; the second is known for great food but is largely indifferent to the customer experience.  Having a less than favourable experience at the second restaurant would entirely meet our expectations and our overall opinion might even be positive.  Having a less than favourable experience at the first – even if it were a better one by all recognized standards of service than the second – would be infinitely worse because your expectations were much higher.  In this area, the Aberdeen has set their “bar” very, very high and is fascinatingly able to consistently meet or exceed customer expectations.  A quick glance at restaurant user review sites like Yelp or Trip Advisor confirms this with many entering multiple positive reviews.



2) The Service Experience No matter where you dine, the service experience is critical and can mean the difference between a satisfactory experience and a truly memorable one.  One of the biggest mistakes restaurants make is to “over define” the service experience in the same manner that business processes might be defined: This is how we greet customers. This is exactly how we ask for drink orders.  This is exactly what we say when we describe the daily specials.  What that approach leads to the majority of the time is a palpable insincerity in the service.  Even the brightest, most cheerful smile can’t necessarily hide the “scripting” of the experience.  At The Aberdeen, the service experience is noticeably different depending on whom is serving you (in an entirely positive way).  Their professional serving staff are individuals first and employees, second which creates a welcome air of authenticity and warmth.  The mechanics of food and drink service are all executed similarly but the interpersonal experience between servers and guests is genuine and THAT is largely what defines the standard of service.

 

3) Staff Attrition or “churn” in the restaurant business (employees leaving the organization) is a factor that all restaurant owners and managers have to anticipate and plan against.  That means that, in addition to the demands of operating a restaurant; they must also recruit, hire, train and manage performance and administration which can substantially divert attention from other key operational activities.  25 – 45% within any calendar year is a commonly referenced number in the restaurant industry meaning restaurants are tasked with replacing from a quarter to almost half of their staff every year!  However, at The Aberdeen Tavern, their attrition is very, very low.  We don’t have statistics on employee "churn" at The Aberdeen Tavern but we CAN confidently observe that most of the people that were with them when their doors opened a year ago are still working there and appear to have no intention of leaving.  So what are they doing differently?  Two things: culture & autonomy.  Owners Jason and Andrea Cassis have created a working environment that is quite rare in the hospitality industry.  They operate on the assumption that their employees are true professionals; are respected as such and afforded the freedom to make relevant choices on behalf of the organization.  What that has done is create a greater sense of ownership and accountability among their staff; fostered a strong and meaningful loyalty to the Aberdeen Tavern AND has the added benefit of largely ensuring consistent performance with less supervision.

 

4) The Food While we love a memorable, positive customer experience; without gorgeous food, there is no restaurant and here The Aberdeen Tavern shines.  Taking inspiration from “tavern cuisine”, classic comfort foods and allowing superstar chef, Matt Beasley and his team the opportunity to influence, enhance, transform and experiment with the fundamental guiding principle being “Taste always wins”.  At play in the Aberdeen kitchen at any moment are global influences and re-invention with a demonstrated commitment to delivering superior taste experiences.  Their guests may stay late because of the service and atmosphere but the food is definitively what brings them there.



5) The Drink Too often, the word ‘artisan’ is thrown around by mixologists to describe their cocktails.  What you often discover later is that the term is referring to the ingredients, not the method and that they’re ‘piggybacking’ on the strength of their brands while the cocktails themselves may be ordinary.  In Avi Constam, The Aberdeen Tavern has found true cocktail greatness.  With the same principle at work - “Taste wins” – Avi and her team create bold, fanciful, exciting and, most importantly, delicious cocktails.  On any night, invention might be in the air and a beautifully balanced cocktail might be created. On another? A creative, wonderful reinvention of a traditional favourite.  At all times, Avi and her mixology team use the freshest, high quality ingredients and masterful mixology techniques.  Watch the care and precision that goes into virtually any cocktail – herbs are being infused, leaves are being crushed, rims are being ‘scented’ … even time can be a factor in her drink preparations.  It is a beautiful marriage of art and science and the reward is an unrivalled drink experience.

We are fortunate to live in a city with an original and wonderful place like The Aberdeen Tavern and Nicole and I whole-heartedly wish Jason, Andrea, the Melissa’s, Matt, Avi, Aaron and the amazing team a very happy birthday.  Looking forward to many more years of success, boundary pushing and gorgeousness… CHEERS!

Pop Up Hamilton

 

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

VG Meats Invites You To "The Grand Feast" Pop Up at Dundurn Castle



 
 
Are you ready for the BIGGEST Pop Up yet?  The extraordinary VG Meats (and us!), in collaboration with our friends at The City of Hamilton, have acquired the rare opportunity to host an intimate dinner on the grounds of Dundurn Castle. One of Hamilton’s most pre-eminent and historic sites, Dundurn has traditionally only been accessible by public guided tours. For this unique occasion, however, guests will be able to enter Dundurn through the great entrance, roam the main floor and dine on the grounds in a marquee erected solely for this event. Attendees will enjoy gorgeous Rosewood Estate Winery wines, craft beers from Nickel Brook and the very best beef prepared by a lineup of local and renown chefs.  Your ticket to this one night only event includes access to Dundurn Castle & a 5 course chef-prepared meal featuring locally raised beef from the Van Gronigen family farms.