chef Roger Mooking – photo courtesy of Brookline PR, Inc.
First things first. Check out the menu chef Roger Mooking created for Telus Spark’s new Social Eatery here.
Hallelujah – do see the prices? It’s all very reasonable. The most expensive thing is a 10 ounce stacked steak sandwich at $15.88. That’s cheaper than popcorn and a soda at the movies. While the prices are merciful for parents that are trying to have a fun day out with their children, the nutrition load in the menu is also an answer to parent’s prayers. Roger Mooking gets this. He’s got four daughters.
I had the chance to interview him by phone last week about this new project.
When I asked chef Mooking about his favourite things on the menu he’s created for this very public space, he told me about the condiment bar. There are a whopping 40 items. It’s meant to engage eaters and involve them in completing the meal they’ve chosen. He says many elements for sale at Social Eatery are meant for mixing and matching and that eaters will compose their meal and have fun along the way.
Local ingredients are important and local favourites like Phil and Sebastian coffee, Manuel Latruwe baguettes, Spolumbo’s sausages and Alberta beef are on the menu. Vegetarians and vegans will find lots to choose from too. Their food is not an afterthought or token. Chef Mooking says the chilli is so good that most people don’t even realize it’s vegan. His favourite item on the menu is a South East Grilled Chicken.
It was a pleasure to discover more about this Trinidadian born Canadian. His TV presence portrays him as someone you could just pop by to visit with and enjoy a few beverages and a backyard barbecue barbecue with. He was friendly, polite and easy to talk to during our phone interview. He comes from a background of hospitable people.
Mooking’s grandfather was Chinese and ran bakeries on Trinidad. He moved to Edmonton with his family at an early age and learned to love Ukrainian food. Having several relatives in the restaurant business and growing up surrounded by great cooks influenced Mooking’s choice of career. He moved to Toronto after high school and enrolled in George Brown Culinary School. He still contributes to their advisory committee today while also working on cookbooks, television shows and/or making music. This chef is also a Juno award-winning musician.
It was last year’s Junos in Calgary that we have to thank for Mooking landing this gig as culinary director for Telus Spark. He came to Calgary to cater the Junos and didn’t think much when a man came up to him and handed him his business card, saying, we need to talk. That man ended up being Barry Crean, the COO of Telus Spark. He was serious and of course, the fact that Mooking also operates a successful food outlet called Twist in the Toronto International Airport also backed up his decision to hire chef Mooking.
Mooking has worked with talented local chef Alison McNeil to test and develop the menu and she will oversee the daily operations. John Jackson and Connie DeSousa of Charbar and Charcut will be in charge of catering for events and private functions. April 10 is the official launch.
Flavour, quality, healthy and fast – these are the elements on offer from chef Roger Mooking with his globally inspired, casual and very social eatery. Sounds like a great way to savour it all the next time you set out to experience Calgary’s world class science centre – Telus Spark.