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  • Carmen Cheng

Artisans of the Markets


We often think of farmer’s markets as places to purchase fresh produce in the Spring and Summer seasons. And while the beautiful bounty of colourful fruits and vegetables during warmer seasons is quite lovely, farmer’s markets are a hub for local small artisans all year round.


We have rounded up five small businesses operating in markets around Alberta who are passionate about their craft and creating some incredible and unique offerings. Next time you’re shopping at a farmer’s market in our province, check out these small businesses.


 

Zushi:

Inside Calgary’s bustling Fresh & Local Market + Kitchens is Zushi, a sushi bar serving beautiful traditional Japanese dishes made from sustainable and quality ingredients that are exceptionally executed.


As an experienced sushi chef, chef Jun Young Park had always wanted to open his own sushi restaurant. During the pandemic, he drove by a billboard with the phrase, “What are you waiting for?” which he took as a literal sign and motivation to open Zushi.



Chef Jun opened Zushi in April this year, and in the short seven months of business, Zushi’s popularity has soared. Reservations for their omakase program is currently booked at least one month out. Omakase means that the customer entrusts the chef to take the lead on their meal choices, and chef Jun creates a wonderful experience for customers by individualizing each piece of sushi to coax out flavour and highlight textures. Such is the case with the smoked nigiri, which is a show-stopping course during the omakase meal where chef prepares a piece of nigiri which is smoked in front of diners in an awe-inspiring presentation and served immediately to customers.


Chef’s passion and attention to detail and quality combined with the surprising affordability of Zushi’s menu has made this spot a must visit.


Plan in advance to make a reservation for their omakase bar at lunch or dinner, it is truly an experience. In the meantime, customers are able to order a la carte without a reservation, be sure to order their temaki – two versions of this hand roll that are not to be missed include the side stripe prawn which highlights the sweetness of plump prawns and the shiitake truffle combining a creamy truffle aioli with savoury and earthy mushrooms.


Find Zushi at Fresh & Local Market + Kitchen, 12445 Lake Fraser Drive SE, Calgary.


 

Uncle Brian’s Food Company

Growing up in a farming family, Brian Kombani worked on his grandfather’s ranch in Zimbabwe helping out with the 1,000+ cattle daily. It’s here that he became interested in learning about the meat industry.


Kombani opened Uncle Brian’s in June 2020, and Edmontonians fell in love with their juicy sausages which frequently sell out each week. After two years in business, Uncle Brian’s now sells their product at a number of farmer’s markets including the Bountiful Farmers’ Market, Edmonton Downtown Farmers Market, and Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market. During warmer seasons, Uncle Brian’s can also be found at outdoor markets around Edmonton.

Kombani wanted introduce different types of sausages to Edmontonians. “Southern Africa has one of the biggest sausage and braai/BBQ cultures in the world,” says Kombani adding, “Boerewors, which literally means farmer’s sausage is a big part of that culture. It is typically a beef sausage, since we have quite an abundant amount of cattle, more than any other livestock, but can be made of other meats such as lamb, pork, and rarely any chicken.”


Boerewors is a meaty farmer’s sausage governed by rules to ensure there’s little filler and scraps used. Kombani makes and sells a few types of boerewors, along with other quality meat products and sausages.


Uncle Brian’s fresh sausages are available in 14-20 different varieties. Chakalaka is one of the most popular items, a sausage made with a medley of sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, carrots, and onions, that comes in beef, bison, lamb, and chicken. Uncle Brian’s pork Andouille sausage and dried meat snacks such as Drywors and Biltong are also customer favourites. Biltong is a thinly sliced air-dried cured meat, and Kombani uses premium cuts of beef such as sirloin for his version.


Find Uncle Brian's Food Company at:

Bountiful Farmers’ Market, 3696 97 Street, Edmonton

Edmonton Downtown Farmers Market, 10305 97 Street, Edmonton

Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market, 10310 83 Avenue NW, Edmonton


 

Ma Pies

What started off as a quest by engineer Corey Ma to make a good apple pie has become a full-time business venture, providing Calgarians with frozen pies that showcase a perfect buttery, tender, and flaky pie pastry.


Fueled by passion for this craft, Ma undertook training in pastry and sought out international work experience as a pastry chef before returning to Calgary.


Over the past four years, Ma Pies has grown from an at-home based business to an online and farmer’s market business offering frozen pies, pizzas, and pastries such as Parisian flan and cannelés.


Ma’s frozen pocket pies are the signature item of Ma Pies, designed for customers to save time in the kitchen as they heat up effortlessly with a flaky and light crust. “Once I found out that the pocket pies taste great when they're baked from frozen, I realized we can save time in the kitchen and still enjoy great food,” says Ma. These pocket pies come in both sweet and savoury varieties with more than ten flavours.


Some of the most popular pocket pies are the Tourtiere, Chicken Mornay, and Chili Pie. The Chicken Mornay pocket pie is similar to a chicken pot pie but with a silky, creamy sauce, and subtle nutmeg and cheese flavours. The Chili pocket pie is filled with a beef and bean chili which combined with the buttery crust makes this a satisfying and hearty meal.


Customers can purchase Ma Pies’ products from their website, or at the Granary Road market. Their pies are also served at OT Brewing and The Bullet Coffee House. Keep an eye out for Ma Pies at upcoming Christmas markets in Calgary and at outdoor markets during Spring and Summer.


Find Ma Pies at Granary Road, 226066 112 Street W, Foothills County


 

El Chorizo Latino

“Think you’ve tried chorizo? Try again.” Is the tagline on El Chorizo Latino’s website. Indeed, this Edmonton-based business makes a vast array of chorizos spanning across Latin regions from Argentina, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and other places.


All the chorizos are made with quality cuts of meat, fresh ingredients and aromatics, resulting in robust flavour. The traditional spice blends are unique to each region and made in-house with many of the recipes handed down from generations of family.


While fresh Latin American chorizo is the main product for El Chorizo Latino, owners John and Angela also produce a lot of Latin or Spanish-based charcuterie such as Spanish dry cured chorizo, lomo or dry cured loin, and panceta. The Panceta Curada Ahumada is a Spanish style pancetta which is cold smoked and aged for six months.


Of the wide range of fresh chorizos, a few customer favourites include the El Mexicano

Spicy, Chilean Longaniza, and Mexican Sinaloa-style chorizo. The El Mexicano Spicy is a mainstay of the chorizo menu made in the style of the Toluca region of Mexico. This is a darker chorizo made from an adobo with pasilla and ancho chiles.


El Chorizo Latino’s products are now available for purchase through Bountiful Farmers’ Market, Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market, Culina To Go, and The Public outposts. Customers can also find their products through various online distributors such as Uproot Food Collective, Cultivatr, and Organic Box.


Paired well with rice or pasta dishes, or simply cooked on the grill, the fresh chorizos from El Chorizo Latino are a delightful inspiration for homecooked meals.


Find El Chorizo Latino at:

Bountiful Farmers’ Market, 3696 97 Street, Edmonton

Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market, 10310 83 Avenue NW, Edmonton


 

Deepak’s Dhaba:

Chef Deepak is a familiar face in the Calgary culinary community, with a storefront on Centre Street and a stall at Crossroads Market. Deepak’s Dhaba has opened a third location at the new Calgary Farmer’s Market West, which features a number of beloved local Calgary food businesses in their food hall.


Chef Deepak develops his own recipes for each of his dishes. The spices are freshly ground in-house at Deepak’s Dhaba resulting in a vibrancy to Chef Deepak’s dishes which can be ordered freshly made for dine-in or purchased as frozen meals.


From their menu of fresh signature curries, the coconut cauliflower, butter chicken, and beef vindaloo are customer favourites. The creamy Dal Makhani with black lentils is rich in flavour and reheats nicely from frozen! Customers can also purchase pakora bites.


Chef’s chai is renowned, made with his own blend of spices and tea. The chai at Deepak’s Dhaba is sold hot or cold. When you’re shopping at the new Calgary Farmer’s Market, stop in at Deepak’s Dhaba for a warm chai and delicious lunch, or to stock your freezer with easy-to-reheat meals and pantry with chef’s spice blends and chutneys!


Find Deepak’s Dhaba at:

Calgary Farmer’s Market West, 25 Greenbriar Drive NW, Calgary

Crossroads Market, 1235 26 Avenue SE, Calgary, 1032 Centre Street N, Calgary