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Taste the market

SAIT's new urban eatery, The Tastemarket, is now open.

SAIT's new urban eatery, The Tastemarket, is now open.

The oven is fired up and ramen stock on the boil as The Tastemarket by SAIT is now dishing up delicious meals in the heart of downtown Calgary.

Open for just under a week now, the city's newest urban eatery has already seen a steady stream of customers curious about the new option for morning coffee and pastries or lunch, says instructor Patricia Koyich.

"Most people think it's a regular restaurant, asking if we're open on weekends or if we can host a Christmas party," she says.

Steady stream

Students from SAIT's new post-diploma Culinary Entrepreneurship program have been serving bowls of mango and shrimp on rice, spicy miso ramen, salads and flatbreads laden with roasted vegetables or basil and fiore de latte to between 250 and 300 hungry people every day. Most come from the office building on the corner space at Seventh Ave. and Fourth St. SW where The Tastemarket is housed, says Koyich.

She expects that to change when construction outside is completed — especially as the long line of windows offer potential guests a peek inside.

"A group of 15 people in kitchen whites draws people in," says Koyich. "People are asking questions and are excited about the options available to them here.

"The hot line, featuring ramen and rice bowls, is the main focus, but people are also venturing in to buy charcuterie sandwiches, which make for a great grab-and-go lunch, she adds.

Mornings see a steady flow of people eager for a cup of coffee and a pastry.

Food with a story

Part of the curriculum is letting students make those decisions, so they did a tasting and picked their preferred blends, including one made from beans grown on a plantation run completely by women.

"As we move through the program, we want to be able to tell stories about the food and the products we use," says Koyich. "We see The Tastemarket as a blank slate; students are supposed to create ideas around what and how they promote it.

From the outside, The Tastemarket looks like a culinary program. Yet Koyich notes there's an even split between industry professionals coming back to learn how to open a restaurant and students fresh from SAIT's Hospitality Management or Professional Cooking programs.

Every aspect of the Culinary Entrepreneurship program is set to guide them to open an establishment of their own if desired. Even the slight delay in opening The Tastemarket this fall was a practical, educational experience for the students, says Koyich — most restaurants are prone to unplanned interruptions leading up to the first day.

The Tastemarket will officially kick things off with an invite-only grand opening gala on Nov. 2. Koyich notes students will be coordinating logistics and preparing some of the food for the afternoon event.

In the meantime, check out The Tastemarket's new website for menu updates and then make time to go see it for yourself.