PICTOU – They weren’t even sure they were going to make it. It was the coldest day of January, and their windshield wipers weren’t working properly.
Despite less than perfect circumstances when they arrived in Pictou for the first time, Dianne Mitchell and Kirk Rasmussen saw the potential.
“When we came here, it just felt like home right away,” said Mitchell, who is preparing to open new eatery Not Your Mama’s Kitchen with Rasmussen, adding that they were meeting people on the street and instantly engaging in conversation.
They came from the Halifax area, and Mitchell said though they knew their immediate neighbours, it wasn’t the same feeling they had when they landed in Pictou.
After searching for more than three years to find the perfect spot to start a restaurant, their experience led them to pick the Shiretown, liking the area’s agricultural and fishing foundation and proximity to other towns.
They were warned about Pictou being a seasonal town, but are planning to stay open during winter anyway and try to bring in customers by being creative, whether it’s through ready-to-go meals, catering or special fine-dining nights.
Their focus is on farm-to-table, planning a menu around comfort foods with ingredients from within the county when available – and within the province at the furthest.
“It’s important from a nutritional standpoint and a flavour standpoint,” Rasmussen said.
He was once in the trucking industry and recalled trucking fruit and vegetables from Florida, and how they’d use carbon dioxide to keep them from ripening too quickly. He considers this problematic, he explained, because the ripening process is important to the nutritional value.
“It occurred to me, why go further than your back door for food?”
He went on to say it’s also important for the economy to support local farmers.
Mitchell added that hopefully with enough demand, government can support more small farms.
“The time of the factory farm is coming to a quick end. People are noticing things just aren’t what they used to be,” Rasmussen said.
The couple met about four years ago in Halifax, although they both originated from Ontario. Rasmussen, who is the chef and co-owner of the restaurant, has been cooking since he was 16, going to culinary school and leaving a month before he was finished for another opportunity that arose.
Mitchell, who is co-owner and manager, says her background is in nutrition and has had a longtime interest in creating recipes.
Name: Not Your Mama’s Kitchen
Opening: Saturday, Sept. 19
Owners: Kirk Rasmussen & Dianne Mitchell
Hours: Tues – Sat 11-9, 11-10 on weekend, open year-round
Employees: 5 + owners
Food: Focus on comfort foods “with a twist,” local ingredients