EOCC City YEG: The Workshop Eatery
From the bustling downtown bistros to the greasy neighbourhood steakhouses to the countless donair shops that dot the north end like stars, Edmonton’s best food is all around us, usually in places we least expect. But would you believe one of the city’s best-kept secrets can be found in what looks to be a massive greenhouse on the southside? The priMed Mosaic Centre is a one-of-a-kind net-zero energy building, located in Summerside, and it’s home to the Workshop Eatery.
Established just three years ago, this modern eatery offers visitors handcrafted, seasonally focused cuisine – comfort food with a hint of adventure. Since then, it’s been named Best New Restaurant by Where Magazine only a few months after opening, hailed a mouth-watering experience by the CBC and ranked third in Avenue Magazine’s 2017 Best New Restaurants list. “The food consistently delivers,” Avenue wrote. “Add in the fact that many of the ingredients are locally sourced and you’ve got a place that will steal any foodie’s heart.”
Paul Shufelt is a classically-trained chef who sharpened his trade in Banff, Montreal and Switzerland before carving out a permanent niche in the ranks of Edmonton’s culinary heavy-hitters. He spent nearly ten years refining his own personal style in favorite Edmonton restaurants such as Lux, MKT, and Hart’s Table before stepping out on his own in 2015 to launch Workshop Eatery. His goal was to offer great, local food in an approachable setting that would build a gastronomic bridge between classical and more moderate palates.
“We want our customers to feel like guests…and to offer the experience of people seeing us work in our open kitchen”, he says. “That’s what we’re striving to achieve; a seasonally focused meal, using local ingredients whenever we can. Preparing things from scratch, handcrafted, delivered in a warm, genuine environment. No one’s going to look at you awkwardly if you drop a fork or if you can’t pronounce a word on the menu.”
The name “Workshop” organically surfaced as Shufelt’s forward-thinking vision converged with the Mosiac Center’s unique design. As Shufelt and his associates contemplated the big, rustic garage door that partitions the restaurant from the rest of the Primed Mosiac Center, “Workshop” just felt right. The Primed Mosiac centre with its open-concept, high beamed-timber-framing and floor-to-ceiling- living wall, is Alberta’s first net-zero commercial building, and is the perfect complement to Shufelt’s regionally focused, rustic vision.
“Workshop Eatery resonates with what we’re trying to do here,” Shufelt says. “We wanted to offer the experience of people seeing us at work in our open kitchen. [We] really liked the idea of capturing that raw, authentic feel.”
To Shufelt, the three key components to standing out as business include top-grade hospitality, supporting other local brands and using what’s closest and on hand – in Workshop’s case, that’s local ingredients, grown fresh from the restaurant’s garden.
“You can get a warm meal and a cold drink anywhere but we wanted to provide a different experience, get to know our customers, make them feel like home,” he says. “Having the luxury of being able to grow a lot of produce right in front of our restaurant, four to five months out of the year, is an advantage and something that sets us apart.”
Shufelt’s advice to aspiring restaurant owners and chefs boils down to one thing: be ready to work hard because the industry is a lot harder than people think and if they’re not willing to make that sacrifice, they can lose a lot of money fast!
“It’s gonna be harder then you think,” he says. “I meet a lot of people in this industry who have no idea what they’re getting into. They see the romantic side of being a restaurant owner. Do your homework. Be open-minded to learning and growing will help you grow far in your career.”
Shufelt’s future for Workshop Eatery includes a stronger focus on catering, recreating its signature experience in private event spaces. But whether it’s fine dining for 8 or catering to 800, the Workshop Eatery experience isn’t going anywhere but up.
Register now for Resolve To Relate Tomorrow, December 29, At The Mosaic Centre! Click here.