World-Class F&B Complement World-Class Expansion at Calgary’s BMO Centre

A Sponsored Message From Tourism Calgary

Author: Matt Alderton       

food dish with fish and vegetables

The BMO Centre’s F&B team plans to serve Alberta’s signature brand of western hospitality with dishes that feature fresh ingredients from local producers.

Come next year, convention groups will have a billion reasons to love Calgary thanks to a $1-billion investment in meetings and events infrastructure — the heart of which is a $500-million expansion of the BMO Centre at Stampede Park. When it’s complete in June 2024, the home of the legendary Calgary Stampede will offer more than 500,000 square feet of meeting and event space, making Calgary the largest convention destination in Western Canada.

man in chef uniform

Executive Chef Nicholas Pena Alvarez (above) prides himself on creating dishes (below) with meeting planners’ vision in mind.

The BMO Centre isn’t just getting bigger — it’s also getting more delicious, thanks to Executive Chef Nicholas Pena Alvarez, an internationally experienced chef who has spent more than 25 years working in hotels, cruise ships, and Michelin-starred restaurants. Under his leadership, the BMO Centre plans to serve Alberta’s signature brand of western hospitality on a plate.

“Western hospitality is about going above and beyond to make people feel taken care of,” Alvarez said. “That shows up in our food through the concerned and careful effort we put into making menus.”

That level of intention is particularly evident in the eco-conscious Grown Right. Here. program, through which the BMO Centre sources fresh ingredients from local producers. Alvarez said he wants to expand that initiative, so he is working with local farmers to purchase more items in greater quantities with greater frequency, and within a smaller delivery radius — resulting in better-tasting meals with a smaller carbon footprint.

Another way Alvarez maximizes both flavor and sustainability is by using whole ingredients. Take a dish he recently conceived: scallops and corn. He removed the kernels from the corn and blended them to make a juice, which he strained and placed over a double boiler to heat and thicken using the natural corn starch. Meanwhile, he pureed the corn pulp, combined it with a powder made from roasted corn silk, and used the mixture to make a tuile (baked wafer). Finally, he roasted the corn cobs and used them to make a stock for a corn risotto.

Meeting an Event’s Objectives

“We do a really good job of composting the food in our food wastage bins, but our goal is to put fewer kilograms of food into those bins to begin with,” said Alvarez, who prides himself on marrying his culinary philosophy with meeting planners’ vision.

That means building menus that not only include a group’s size and budget, but also the event’s strategic objectives. “Typically, clients will get a menu in the form of a Word document. But that’s a bit boring. Instead, I’ve started doing more culinary storyboards that show my ideas and how they tie into events’ themes,” Alvarez said. “It’s a lot more engaging.”

With more and varied event spaces across Stampede Park, Calgary will be able to offer more engaging experiences to groups of all sizes — starting with world-class food-and-beverage experiences that are local, bespoke, and sustainable.


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