Where Calgary - - DINING - —Rachael Frey

Calgary owes a debt of grat­i­tude to Paul Ro­gal­ski’s grand­par­ents. The first seeds of his love and pas­sion for food were planted when, as a child, his pa­ter­nal grand­mother would pre­pare fam­ily meals with in­gre­di­ents from her huge kitchen gar­den. On the other side of the fam­ily, his ma­ter­nal grand­fa­ther was a butcher and co-owner of Bon Ton Meat Mar­ket, who would bring home the tasti­est cuts of meat for the fam­ily to en­joy.

“I re­mem­ber sit­ting on the back stairs of the Bon Ton as a kid watch­ing the butcher shop in full swing,” Ro­gal­ski says. “It was an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for me.”

Those seeds ger­mi­nated into a ca­reer that has seen Ro­gal­ski work­ing in some of the most prom­i­nent fine din­ing res­tau­rants in Calgary, not to men­tion Cal­i­for­nia, Sin­ga­pore, Kuala Lumpur, and Grand Cay­man. In 2001, he opened Rouge (page 58), then called The Cross House, with

part­ner Olivier Rey­naud.

Rouge, which is lo­cated in the his­toric for­mer home of prom­i­nent busi­ness­man A.E. Cross, is well known for el­e­gant and in­no­va­tive Cana­dian cui­sine made with lo­cally sourced in­gre­di­ents—much of the pro­duce is plucked di­rectly from the large on-site gar­den be­hind the restau­rant. “I be­lieve that food should be sourced from grow­ers that are as ge­o­graph­i­cally close to the restau­rant as pos­si­ble so the flavour of the ter­roir of our re­gion stays in­tact,” Ro­gal­ski says.

“My food phi­los­o­phy is sim­ple, but it took a while to come to the place I am cur­rently in. As a young cook I wanted to ma­nip­u­late food in as many ways as pos­si­ble, but over time I de­vel­oped a phi­los­o­phy to show­case food nat­u­rally, when it is at its peak qual­ity.”

Over the past 16 years at Rouge, Ro­gal­ski has seen nu­mer­ous changes in the restau­rant in­dus­try, but there are some de­mands that he has em­braced with open arms. “I am happy to say that there is more of a push for ‘farm to ta­ble’ and ‘cooked from scratch’ in res­tau­rants th­ese days, which is a trend that I hope is here to stay.”

“Some­times cook­ing and ma­nip­u­la­tion is not nec­es­sary— cel­e­brate a per­fect tomato as a per­fect tomato.”

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