It’s a Thursday afternoon, and the Grazers restaurant patio is bustling. Zoo visitors relax in the sun, savor a cool drink and enjoy a fresh meal while in the heart of their local zoo.
When families come to the zoo for a day out in the summer weather, they often stop for a quick bite to eat. To Calgary Zoo fans, that means stopping by the Kitamba cafeteria, and picking up some of the quick eat options before continuing with their day.
With Grazers open for its second season, we’ve introduced a new option for family dining- that involves fresh, healthy and sustainably sourced ingredients for every visitor. Like Kitamba, we pride ourselves on quality and service, but also look to provide an option to ‘fast’ food or our popular Sunday brunch.
Overseen by Krish Nair, Executive Sous Chef and recent winner of Chopped Canada, the focus of Grazers is to provide healthy, locally sourced meals, including food that’s grown in the zoo’s own Garden of Eatin’. Krish planned the menu himself with Executive Chef James Neilson, and runs the restaurant on the strength of his relationships with the local suppliers. He feels that Grazers truly represents the Calgary Zoo’s local roots, as the majority of the menu is created from fresh Alberta-grown ingredients. Maintaining these healthy relationships is key, he says, as chefs can be limited, “The real heroes are the farmers and suppliers who provide us with great, organic flavor.”
The local focus not only allows for superior taste, but keeps us aligned with the zoo’s conservation mission. “When you’re ordering from the United States, or further away, you’re putting resources and time into trucks travelling long distances to distribute the product. This is wasteful and can be harmful to the environment, when we know we can find those same heirloom tomatoes closer to us.”
Krish says that 35-40% of Grazer’s food comes from local farmers and local suppliers. It’s a feel-good post to the economy by bolstering great businesses and supporting wonderful partners. He loves that they use local cheese, and no detail is too small- even the cold pressed canola oil is from Mountainview Farming. On top of that, he ensures that the kitchen makes their own bread, and grows a multitude of vegetables and herbs. Menu items at Grazers like the mixed green salad are made with entirely zoo grown ingredients from the Garden of Eatin’, including an herb tower growing tarragon, thyme, basil and oregano.
Grazers isn’t just a restaurant at which zoo-goers can feel good eating at, but a wild zoo experience when dining on the patio, as its situated next to the alpaca and rhea yard, and there are frequent visits from the roaming peacocks. Next time you’re roaming the grounds and your stomach rumbles, stop in for a tasty, fresh meal you can feel good about. Bon appetite!
Grazers 2016 season
- Open June 17 – September 5, seven days a week, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Grazers will remain open in the evenings during ILLUMINASIA, September 8- October 16, on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays from 7- 10 p.m. for guests to enjoy!