Vignettes: A Conversation With Nick Crudo

He talks about melding food and art at the Vignettes Design Series.

Nick Crudo and his wife, Melissa (behind) at Vignettes Design Series.

In 2011, Nick Crudo and his brother started Amore Pasta group, which began with Cafe Amore Bistro, and now includes beloved establishments Black Pearl Seafood Bar, Amore Pasta and Papa Giuseppe Kitchen and Catering. Avenue talked with the born-and-raised Edmontonian about incorporating his love of all things local with this past autumn’s Vignettes Design Series.

What was the set-up this year?

On the second level of Vignettes (10420 103 Avenue) there was a kitchen area, so we blocked it off and brought up some tables for 16 people. Then I cooked a three-course meal based on one meal for each of my restaurants and explained exactly what we were doing from step one to step 10. We utilized local grocery stores, like the Italian Centre, where people can pick up these products and make it themselves.

You were involved the first time Vignettes had a food component, correct?

Yeah it was in the closed down Sobeys on Jasper. Leigh and Vicki converted it and it’s where we did our first pop-up where we kind of just dismantled a lobster for people and got their hands in the mix of everything to break down their own personal lobster.

So it was like a TV talk show cooking segment, but in person.

Yes, and interactive! Some of them came behind the counter to shuck oysters with my wife. And some just viewed from the other side. And then, after every course was made, they got to sit down and enjoy.

You’ve had success keeping your business and ingredients local. It was a good fit with Vignettes.

I love supporting local artists. I think that if we can collaborate more as a community, I think that we can heighten its art institutions a bit better. There’s some great people out there, just like [Vignettes creators] Leigh and Vicki (Wright), and they’ve given their all to establish a pretty cool culture in the arts district. And so we love to be a part of it, in any way we can.

Can you talk about the importance of melding food and art?

I think it’s very important. If you were to go to any major cosmopolitan city, you’ll find that art and food are very melded together. Art touches your soul, and it touches your heart, and so does food.

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