Artwork or restaurant?  RAW:Almond is both, a pop-up restaurant that makes an event out of dining out.

Picture 2,000 people in boots and coats feasting on ash cured scallops, creamy cannelloni beans with roots and herbed hen, or Alberta lamb and pumpkin curry, among other delicacies, while sitting on fur lined benches under a fabric roof in the middle of the Assiniboine River. Frozen over of course.


Interiors of the 2013 Popup Restaurant(Photography by Jacqueline Young)

raw-almond-popup-restaurant-winnipeg-Seating at the first pop-up.

Over 15 guest chefs, each presenting his or her signature dish, will host three seatings a day for 20 days. Check out the photos of the first RAW:Almond. Billed as a celebration of food, local talent and winter, this year’s edition of the event is already sold out.

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Dishes prepared by guest chefs 

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raw-almond-popup-restaurant-winnipeg-Guests at the first pop-up

RAW:Almond is collaboration between architect Joe Kalturnyk and chef Mandel Hitzer. Kalturnyk is the founding director of Winnipeg’s RAW Gallery which he created in 2010 as a place for architectural exploration. “Sort of the research wing of architecture,” he says. The Gallery mounts a lot of installations. Hitzer owns and runs Deer+Almond, a premier Winnipeg restaurant. A mutual friend brought them together in 2011 and in 2013 the duo finally turned their pop-up scheme into reality. But it was risky. Their first structure was essentially comprised of tarps and scaffolding which Kalturnyk rented with his credit card.

raw-almond-popup-restaurant-winnipeg-Joe Kalturnyk

Architect Joe Kalturnyk

“If we don’t sell enough tickets we’re screwed,” Kalturnyk said to Hitzer at the time. They needn’t have worried.  They sold out in eight days. This is the third version of the popular event.

raw-almond-popup-restaurant-winnipeg-Mandel Hitzer

Chef Mandel Hitzer


Images from the first popup event

Kalturnyk designed the first two structures himself. This year the duo held an international competition. “It’s more exposure. It invites more ideas,” says Kalturnyk. “I figured we’d open it up, see what other ideas are out there and take it from there.”

The winning design comes from os31, a UK firm which won the commission over nine other finalists. Their structure is comprised of four arms roughly assembled in the shape of a cross. One arm functions as an entranceway – guests will walk through a triangle fashioned out of a square  piece of fabric – one arm will be the kitchen and two other arms will become dining rooms. Because the interior skin attaches to interior bracing, the structure will actually be two forms, one inside the other creating an undulating profile, at least when lit up from inside.

raw-almond-popup-restaurant-winnipeg-Concept drawing of the finished entranceway

Concept drawing of the finished entranceway

raw-almond-popup-restaurant-winnipeg-Concept drawing of the finished structure

Concept drawing of the finished structure

raw-almond-popup-restaurant-winnipeg-2015 structure under construction

2015 structure under construction

raw-almond-popup-restaurant-winnipeg-2015 structure under construction 3

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2015 Construction Details

Already known for promoting the avant garde, Kalturnyk’s next project is a tour of rural Manitoba by semi trailer. He acknowledges his programming may turn heads. “Contemporary art might still be a bit alienating to them but the thing is, it fosters discussion.  Let’s talk about these ideas, what are we doing?”

And of course, there’s likely to be another RAW:Almond next year. What about his architecture practice?  “I’m really more interested in engaging the public and engaging the city,” he says, admitting he’s more interested in pushing the envelope than in building bricks and mortar.  Warm up those scallops!  The party begins later this week, January 22, and ends February 11.

RAW Almond

RAW Gallery


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