By Chris Illich
On Thursday September 10, 2015, the Niagara Artists Centre put on a rooftop party that was like nothing downtown St. Catharines had seen before.
The idea was simple, but the execution was both challenging and demanding. Steve Remus, Minister of Energy, Minds & Resources at the Niagara Artists Centre [NAC] explained where the idea came from: “NAC was looking for a way to do some quick fundraising, we’re a charity and you [have] to keep the place humming along. If you don’t play it right, fundraisers easily turn into fundlosers and you don’t want the events to wipe out your volunteers, your board, or your staff.
“We struck on a rooftop dinner with solid gold entertainment […] because we happened to have this newly opened terrace above our gallery.”
The Thomas Craig Oliver Terrace, which opened earlier in 2015, housed 60 people for their Move On Up! event, which was labeled as “An evening to enjoy Niagara’s superlative music, food & drink”.
The event featured the Mark Lalama Band and a seven course tasting menu of farm-to-table epicurean fare created and prepared by Andrew McLeod and Kyle Paton of Bolete (opening Spring 2016) and Adam Hynam-Smith of El Gastronomo Vagabundo.
Throughout the evening, the chefs prepared each dish in front of the spectators, creating a culinary experience unique to the audience.
“It was an awesome night. It was really hectic at times because we all have our own dishes that we were doing, but events like this really make you slow down a bit and have fun for the night,” Paton recalled. “It’s a really nice excuse to enjoy friendship and be collaborative with each other.”
“You can be a little bit more daring with flavours, because no one really knows what they are getting. It opens us up a little bit to do what we want to do rather than what will sell, or what makes sense monetarily,” added McLeod.
The success of Move on Up! prompted the idea to run a second date in December at Kwong Chow on St. Paul St. in downtown St. Catharines, but due to uncertainties the event was unfortunately cancelled and rescheduled to February 11.
For those unaware with Kwong Chow, it has been at 310 St. Paul St. and has been operating since 1981. It is one of the oldest restaurants in downtown St. Catharines, and serves traditional Chinese cuisine.
Move on Over again features McLeod, Paton and Hynam-Smith, this time preparing dishes that they “would all make if [they] owned Kwong Chow,” Paton explained.
“Kwong Chow is an institution at this end of St. Paul St.” said Remus. “The place is pretty special. You never know what you’ve got until it’s gone. I don’t think the Kwong Chow is going anywhere, but before every product Home Depot sells gets plastered on top of our downtown, I think we’d do well to develop an appreciation for the charm of a place like Kwong Chow. If it was in a hip part of a larger city you can bet it’d have more admirers.”
The dining will prove to be “unexpected and extraordinary” and will be complemented by a surprise entertainment guest who will be “warming things up”, according to Remus.
Tickets are available for Move On Over! at the NAC, located at 354 St. Paul St. in St. Catharines. More information can be found at nac.org, or call 905 641 0331.