They say you eat with your eyes first and nowhere is that more evident than in some of Manitoba’s hottest kitchens. Run by incredibly talented chefs who handle the heat of the kitchen everyday to plate tasty, beautiful food. Here’s a look at some of Manitoba’s hottest kitchens.

Scott Bagshaw – Máquè, Enoteca, Deseo Bistro

This highly regarded chef comes with a reputation for telling it like it is and creating amazing food. Tattooed with “Chef for life” on his arm, you know he’s serious about his craft, having worked across Europe, in Australia, and in celebrated kitchens in Toronto and New York. Chef Scott is now the executive chef at three Winnipeg restaurants, with Deseo and Enoteca getting national attention from outlets like Where Magazine, Huffington Post, and enRoute. Bagshaw’s newest restaurant Máquè features Asian flavours, Deseo offers elevated comfort food, while the small plates at Enoteca boast bold flavours (who knew cauliflower could make you drool?).

Adam Donnelly – Segovia Tapas Bar

I once asked a very good looking server here for a date. And he complied. I’m talking of course about Segovia’s Medjool date with mascarpone, maple syrup, and pistachios. And like everything else we ate at this Osborne Village restaurant that night, it was amazing. For a twist on Spanish tapas, Chef Adam delivers with tasty sharable plates that combine Spanish flavours and techniques with a modern flare. His experience with a Michelin star chef and his personal connection with Spain’s way of life translates into food you’ll dream about.

Photo credit: Dustin Leader

Tyler Kaktins – Foxtail Café

A personal revelation about the importance of making connections with the land, with traditions, and with the community is behind Chef Tyler’s goal to create great food and great memories. Located in Onanole just outside Riding Mountain National Park, Kaktins and his wife Julie have rooted their restaurant in community. The menu focuses on local ingredients, so much so that local farm suppliers are featured on their website. And you can bet this kitchen is hot, with its wood-fired oven that blazes up to 510° C, offering the perfect charred, yet chewy pizza crust topped with fresh, local ingredients. Case in point: the Cinder & Smoke pizza with roasted chicken, charred corn, and bacon. It’s smoky-sweet perfection.

Gord Bailey – Sentruhl Project

This chef and his wife Traci were behind one of P.E.I’s best restaurants and have just recently returned to their native Winnipeg, making a huge splash on the city’s culinary scene. And what’s making those waves is their pop-up dinner series that focuses each prix fixe menu on a different theme. From exploring the cuisines of Canada, to cultural themes and special events that have shaped our country, Chef Gord and his team put a lot research into interpreting these themes through impressive plates. Next up is a set of menus that will be an ode to Winnipeg.

Mary-Jane Feeke –  Benjamin’s Gourmet Foods

This Selkirk-based chef and baker is Gold Seal certified-awesome. Her path to a career in the kitchen went through South Africa, having since shown off her talent and creativity at the Culinary Olympics. From stunning wedding cakes, incredible wood-fired pizzas, or artisan breads baked in the outdoor oven, there is always something beautiful, and delicious, coming out of Chef Mary-Jane’s kitchen.

Norm Pastorin – The Cornerstone Bar & Restaurant

In the heart of one of Winnipeg’s most vibrant neighbourhoods, Osborne Village, Chef Norm represents the city’s multiculturalism  through his casual international flavours. Pastorin cooks because he loves it, a passion he’s demonstrated by taking top honours at the prestigious Gold Medal Plates competition.  Chef Norm’s goal is to make his guests happy, and you can bet that his KFC (killer fried chicken) Banh Mi delivers on that promise.

Top left photo credit: Good Life Vancouver

Mandel Hitzer – RAW: Churchill

In a way that’s cooler than cool, Manitoba’s coldest kitchen is that of the (now sold out!) pop-up restaurant RAW: Churchill. Chef Mandel is bringing the wildly successful foodie meets winter restaurant concept of RAW: almond to Churchill March 10-11. Inside the walls of the historic Prince of Wales Fort diners will be treated to spectacular dishes served under a transparent roof, letting them not only enjoy the beauty of their plates, but the beauty of the northern lights as well. RAW: almond’s duo of Chef Mandel and Joe Kalturnyk have partnered with Parks Canada and Churchill tour operator Frontiers North Adventures to offer a dining experience that is way more than just a meal. Guests will travel across the frozen Churchill River on a Tundra Buggy, enjoy a post-dinner tour of the fort along with more northern lights viewing opportunities.

Photo credit: Jacqueline Young

 Feature image photo credit: Dustin Leader