One of The Happy Nun Cafe's new owners says the purchase of the business is “a kind of homecoming” for she and her partner.
Chef Katie Vinge, 27, and her fiancee, Riley Riddell, 28, finalized the purchase of the Forget institution in January from its founders, Shannon and Don Shakotko. Both Vinge and Riddell have roots in southeastern Saskatchewan and Vinge says, “This area holds a special place in my heart.”
“I'm originally from Fairview, Alberta,” says Vinge. “But my family has a cabin at White Bear. Riley grew up in Wawota, so this is home for us.”
“I studied Culinary Arts in Edmonton, at NAIT (Northern Alberta Institute of Technology),” she adds. “We're both big foodies and we'd always heard about The Happy Nun. We're big believers in local food and my food philosophy is all about supporting local growers and suppliers in and around Saskatchewan.”
“The previous owners, Shannon and Don (Shakotko) have done such a good job with the menu,” says Vinge. “I want to continue that and I'm looking forward to having a garden at the back of the Nun.”
“I want to make my own sauces, pickles, preserves, and even my own butter. I'll be making everything myself-bread, desserts, everything.”
Since completing her studies, Vinge has worked and travelled in Finland, and is currently winding up her stint at Regina's The Willows (restaurant). She has also helped to introduce the Queen City to the concept of “pop-up dining” via The Supper Society Regina.
“That's something I want to bring to the Nun,” says Vinge. “At our most recent Supper Society pop-up dinner, for example, we served the salad on long wooden planks that my uncle, John Vinge made for me.”
“We laid out salad tongs all the way down the plank and guests all shared and helped themselves off of the plank.”
“I love the family-style idea of dining. Food is about bringing people together. Even strangers at the beginning of the meal will surely leave as friends.”
Vinge says she and Riddell will continue to keep the Nun's musical and decorative traditions alive, as well.
“It's a special place,” says Vinge. “There will still be concerts, live music. Don and Shannon will still be booking all of the acts.”
“As for the decor, we'll be keeping the touches the same and adding some of our own.”
“And depending on demand,” adds Vinge, “I'd like to hold cooking classes every few weeks.”
“We also want to host meetings, parties, and private events,” she says. “We also want to offer off-site catering and bring pop-up dinners to this part of the province. Those long-table dinners-we want to bring that to southeast Saskatchewan.”
Vinge is looking forward to opening the doors of The Happy Nun as chef and co-owner.
“As of right now, we've been all over southeast Saskatchewan, trying to get ready to open. With all of the permits and things we have to get in order, we're looking at opening at the end of February, beginning of March.”
“If I could open up right now, I would,” she says.
“I'm just really excited for us to start our lives in the southeast,” says Vinge. “I've always imagined myself there and I look forward to welcoming our guests.”
For updates on The Happy Nun Cafe, check out: www.happynuncafe.ca or The Happy Nun Cafe on Facebook.