The Perfect Day: Chef Nathan Guggenheimer gives us the scoop on Saskatoon

The culinary scene in Saskatoon, Sask. is mushrooming (pun intended) and Ayden Kitchen & Bar is at the centre of the excitement. Since opening in late 2013, it has landed on must-dine and top 10 lists all over the country. The secret behind Ayden’s wild success is that there isn’t one. They simply showcase local ingredients and cuisine, and do so beautifully. Here, Nathan Guggenheimer, Ayden’s bearded co-chef and butcher, shares his agenda for a perfect day in the city that’s home to one of the hottest kitchens in the country.

Start Early
“I’d start my morning right by getting up early, 7 a.m., and heading over to see my buddy Bryn at Night Oven Bakery for a croissant and an Americano. I’ll end up grabbing extra canelés to go for my kitchen staff. Bryn built his own brick oven — that he cooks everything in — with his own hands. And he grinds all the flour in house. It’s a beautiful, peaceful spot that always smells like fresh sourdough coming out of the oven, which is one of my favourite scents.”

Check out the market
“After I scarf down a croissant I’d go for a walk in the farmers’ market by the river. I love seeing all the beautiful produce that Saskatchewan has to offer. Slowly stroll by each vendor trying vegetables, smelling them and taking it all in. It helps me relax. Plus everyone at the market is extremely friendly.”

Get in a round
“I love hitting a good round of golf. OK, I don’t always hit ‘a good round’ but I play anyway. So, I’d meet up with Christopher Cho [manager of Ayden], Erik Strong [manager of Little Grouse], and Brett Theriault [assistant manager of Ayden] at Dakota Dunes Golf Links for a game. On a perfect day, I’d score 75 and beat them … in reality I’d probably shoot a 90 and feel frustrated by the end of the 18! Either way, it’s fun.”

‘Jesse Zuber, the chef at Little Grouse on the Prairie, is very particular and knows his pasta more than anyone I’ve met’

Get in some veg
“My favourite lunch spot is Odd Couple. They have the best vegan spring roll in the city hands down. Andy, the manager/owner, makes it a joy to come in. I often meet my girlfriend Karyn and her four-and-a-half-year-old son there. It’s his favourite spot. He always orders the ‘ninja noodles with extra prawns’ and I teach him how to use chopsticks. It’s one of my favourite things to take part in. I usually eat vegetarian options there because Karyn is a vegetarian and I have never been disappointed.”

Suit up
“Next, I’d get new threads for dinner. Walk over to Hardpressed Print Studio, which is right beside the Odd Couple. Steve is a super nice guy and he makes all the gear from scratch. He designs, prints and assembles everything right in front of you. It’s a local shop that you can’t miss out on. I also like to head over to see Garret at Banjo Outpost on 2nd Avenue. He has a small but fresh collection of menswear, shoes and socks that always catch my eye.”

Shave and a haircut
“Get changed into your new clothes and head to see Julia at 11th Hour Barber for a hot shave and trim. Julia has a one-seat shop so it’s just you and her, a giant mirror, a fancy chandelier, a lot of laughs, and reliably great music for a truly personal and amazing experience. She always knows how to make me feel handsome.”

Dine like family
“For dinner, walk up a block to Little Grouse on the Prairie. It’s a cute little Italian restaurant that makes your pasta to order. Jesse Zuber, the chef, is very particular and knows his pasta more than anyone I’ve met. The cocktails are all barrel-aged and the wine list is very Italian forward and unique. I’d meet my best friend, business partner and co-chef Dale and his son Ayden there. We’d order the multi-course, family-style Alla Famiglia and I’d start with a barrel-aged Negroni, my drink of choice, and then move into wine pairings. I love getting new wines and learning about their characteristics. I also enjoy not knowing what’s coming next but knowing that it’s going to be exciting and delicious. I’ll eat too much there because I can never say no to good food.”

Comments

  1. You certainly are everything you are suppose to be. The beard, haircut, required tattoos. You are a genuine product of the environment. You and your half skilled hacks are so very novice when it comes to cooking. All the HIPSTER/loser etiquette in the world will not improve your beginner cooking skills. Give yourself 20 years and lose the stupid hipster look, and you may cut it as a cook one day…….one day?

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