The cat is finally out of the bag! Yes, after months of planning, meetings and more, my dream of twenty years is finally becoming a reality. I will be opening up a small sandwich shop in Downtown Dartmouth called "The Canteen".
Why a sandwich shop?
I know many of you probably expected me to open a large, ornate, fancy restaurant, but over the years, the kids, the marriage, my tastes and my demeanour have changed. What screams Renee now? A sandwich shop. Simple, seasonal, local and community based.
I want to create a place where people can feel at home. A place where I can have spontaneous conversations with my customers. A place where my kids can come and help in the kitchen and learn about cooking. A place that serves damn good food, done really well, but that doesn't completely consume my life and that of my staff.
It's funny, if you would have told me ten years ago that I would be opening up a sandwich shop, I probably would have screamed profanities at you and told you to get out. That was Renee then, and this is Renee now.
What excites me about The Canteen?
How about the chance to work with great and talented people, such as my "right hand", Jessica Best. A great gal from Newfoundland who magically appeared and that I thank my lucky stars for every day. A very talented baker who honed her skills at Raymond's in St. John's - one of the country's best restaurants. She's not only a talented baker, but also a very talented chef. I look forward to cooking with her, throwing ideas around, sharing some laughs and loving our work.
Enjoyment. That's what excites me.
The chance to enjoy my work again. There were times in my career when cooking just didn't do it for me anymore. I had lost the love, the passion. The thought of cooking repulsed me, and I let it show. No one wants to work with or be served by a curmudgeon, and hopefully, I will never use that word again when describing myself. When you're happy in the kitchen, you can taste the love.
I heart Downtown Dartmouth.
I'm so excited to be opening up in Downtown Dartmouth. A place I have called home for nine years and a place that I absolutely love. What better way to give back to my neighbourhood, than by opening up an eatery - a place that I myself would frequent.
It also excites me that I'll be making my new home above Two If By Sea Café - a pillar of our community. For the past three years I have had the opportunity to work with Zane and Tara on our TIBS Family Dinners. I have also been fortunate enough to use their space for my cooking classes and private dinners. Now, I will have a permanent home above the cafe and beside Anchored Coffee.
TIBS has continued to raise the bar in so many ways. I hope to follow in their footsteps by staying true to my craft, never comprising on quality and embracing the community.
And so it begins.
It is funny how we change, morph into something that we never imagined. The Canteen for me is a culmination of my life's work. I want to be that 40 year old woman, standing behind the counter, with a smile on her face, serving you the best soup you've ever had. The lady that ushers you into the kitchen to try a spoonful of something magical.
After all the years of cooking, I finally want to enjoy my job the way I have always dreamt of; with family, friends and neighbours around me - filling their bellies with goodness.