Ride the gravy train for a cause during #PoutineWeekYYC

Story by Shane Flug
Photo courtesy of #PoutineWeekYYC from Briggs Kitchen + Bar

Self-indulgence sometimes can be selfless.

That’s the concept behind #PoutineWeekYYC, where hungry Calgarians can buy #PoutineWithPurpose at more than 80 restaurants in support of feeding kids in need.

From April 20 to 28, lovers of our national delight can try this year’s poutines in support of MealShare, a charitable organization that partners with Canadian restaurants by giving its patrons a chance to help out by dining out.

And helping out is simple: buy and eat poutine.

This year aims to break 2017’s record of 8,000 meals served through MealShare, and Calgary foodies are gearing up to accept that challenge.

“I know a lot of the chefs and restaurants are pretty competitive, so we really appreciate that,” Karen Richards, #PoutineWeekYYC founder, said.

#PoutineWeekYYC was originally founded as a smaller one-day poutine crawl in 2010 as part of a word-of-mouth marketing experiment, only using Twitter, for a class Richards teaches at Mount Royal University. From there, it grew into the full #PoutineWeek it is today, partnering with MealShare since 2013.

From classical poutines to more off-the-cuff spins, such as the dinner-dessert hybrid Apple Pie poutine at Naina’s Kitchen, there is something there for everyone.

For the #PoutineWeekYYC first-timer, Richards recommended to gather friends or co-workers and take a walking tour of participating neighbourhoods and sample what this city’s chefs have to offer together.

“If you have people to go with you, you can share,” she said. “So you’re not eating a full portion to yourself.”

For example, a group can take a tour along Stephen Avenue, where participating restaurants along the walk can satisfy their steakhouse mood with Goro + Gun’s Kumamoto A5 Wagyu beef poutine, or try Paper St.’s extra cheesy spin on the comfort classic, mac and cheese with hot dogs, with their Mac Daddy poutine.

Additionally, some restaurants offer more than one poutine to try for those that wish to just stick to one place. The Guild, for example, has six poutines on the menu with toppings ranging from smoked brisket to Peking duck.

Those looking for vegetarian or gluten-free options don’t have to miss out. Brasserie Kensington’s classic vegetarian poutine is smothered with mushroom gravy, and Calgary’s exclusively gluten-free restaurant at Heaven Artisan GF has a Yuca poutine with onion-infused gravy and topped with shrimps and bacon.

Whether Calgary poutine lovers go on a neighbourhood crawl (and walk off some calories) or just stick to their favourite restuarant, any level of participation helps feed hungry Calgary kids.

“Try some poutines and try to break our record in support of MealShare,” Richards shared. “[That] would be fantastic.”

#PoutineWeekYYC happens April 20-28 across Calgary at more than 80 participating restaurants. See their website for the full list and map. Follow along on Twitter and on Instagram.