YYC Food and Drink Experience offers unique, mouth-watering opportunities for Calgary diners

Collaboration dinners are on the menu as the inaugural YYC Food and Drink Experience kicks off Friday.

The 10-day event — aimed at filling the hole left when the Calgary Downtown Association announced last year it was cancelling the popular Big Taste dining week — is finding its footing as the launch date nears. But chefs and restaurateurs have embraced the replacement, creating special menus for prix fixe meals and one-off events.

More than 50 restaurants have signed on.

Each will offer set three-course menus — for lunch and/or dinner — during the 10 days, from March 1 to 10. Some have also created $65 five-course gourmet dinners for the event (taxes and gratuities not included). With budget-friendly prices, such as $20 or $30 for a filling lunch or $30 and $40 for a delicious dinner, the Experience is a way to explore new restaurants (or old favourites) without breaking the bank. 

Of course, as Big Taste did, YYC Food and Drink Experience has organized several one-off meals — chef collaborations, winemaker dinners and more. Among them, a long table dinner featuring The Guild, but held in the beautiful Sub Rose space below that restaurant, a dinner centred around sustainable Ocean Wise seafood at Bridgette Bar, and what we expect will be an unbeatable (and creative) brunch at Pigeonhole that brings together chef-owner Justin Leboe and Charcut co-chefs John Jackson and Connie DeSousa, who will be opening their own breakfast spot, Chix Eggshop, later this year in the new Alt Hotel in the East Village. 

Some events have already sold out, so you may want to cruise the Food and Drink Experience site to start planning.

While there, take a look through some of the set menus from restaurants such as Foreign Concept, Deane House, Ten Foot Henry, Two Penny and Calcutta Cricket Club. An informed diner is a smart diner! (And yes, the menus are bound to make your mouth water. Thankfully, you can connect to Open Table to make a reservation right from the site.)

With only two meals per day and 10 days, decisions will be tough. Luckily, there are no bad choices. 

Gwendolyn Richards is a Calgary-based food writer and the author of Pucker: A Cookbook for Citrus Lovers. She regularly contributes to Avenue Magazine and She shares her cooking and eating adventures – and occasionally some of her favourite outfits – on Twitter and Instagram at @gwendolynmr.