It’s really easy to sometimes overlook Red Deer and its hidden gems. The city is home to plenty of Alberta’s best in food and culture, including one so hidden from view you have to track down a Holiday Inn just to find it.
A destination food experience
Tucked away in the lobby of a Holiday Inn on Gasoline Alley is one of Alberta’s top culinary destinations. It’s called Boulevard, and it’s the kind of restaurant people drive to Red Deer to experience. With a focus on contemporary cuisine, nothing is seemingly off limits. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Boulevard range from the budget-friendly to the ultra-bougie, perfect for families and couples seeking quality cuisine.
It helps Boulevard has Chef Emmanuel David, one of Alberta’s best and brightest manning the kitchen. With stints at culinary stalwarts such as Dante’s Bistro and La Persaud in Edmonton, preparing dinner for the Queen and cleaning up at international culinary competitions – snagging eight gold medals in provincial competitions, three on an international level, one team silver for Culinary Team Canada and two silvers, one team and one individual, for Culinary Team Alberta – his resume speaks for itself.
In fact, David was busy working over at La Persaud when he was approached to bring his top-notch cooking touch to Boulevard. He agreed on one condition – that this couldn’t be a mere hotel restaurant. “It wouldn’t be ordinary,” he said. “It would be a stand-up restaurant in the hotel, a real one.”
That was seven years ago. David has been at Boulevard ever since. He credits Boulevard’s success as to the hotel’s willingness to craft around his talents and support his ambition. Create an environment able to support greatness and the communities surrounding you, David says, and the people will come.
“The hotel restaurant is usually average, but this one is a hundred percent focused,” he says. “When you get guests coming here, they didn’t expect a restaurant of this calibre in a Holiday Inn, and that’s what makes the difference. The success of Boulevard is we reach every guest, every table, every time. We talk to them, see where they’re from, what their expectations are and we rise to the occasion.”
(We’re not kidding about this, by the way. Their Instagram is a thing of wonder, often capturing snaps of past and present kitchen glories. Check it out for yourself.)
Boulevard takes #supportlocal to its zenith; everything is created in-house and sourced locally, with ingredients and produce coming from places found in Boulevard’s very backyard. Produce from Rogers Farm in nearby Calgary, cheeses from Sylvan Star Cheeses. Berries from Billyco Junction Berry Farm and bison from Rangeland Bison over in Lacombe. Pork from Innisfail. Craft beer from spots like Troubled Monk Brewery. Boulevard offers catering, and plenty of locals take them up on the offer, bringing those locally-created foods back to the community.
“I’m proud to be here because it’s Red Deer, I’m proud to be part of Red Deer.” David says. “We are all one big family that strives for excellence.”
Taste The World
Boulevard’s other claim to fame is one capable of taking fans to amazing places – quite literally! The ultimate global adventure for foodies, concocted by Boulevard and the Holiday Inn, Taste of the World is one of the restaurant’s culinary staples, sending participants on a journey thru select spots in the world in search of mind-melting flavours. This is no entry-level picnic and in their fourth year, David and co. have refined their globetrotting experiences to a science. It’s a crash course for customers and cooks alike. Each meal gets paired with a corresponding series of wines and ales too.
“We are able to bring our customers different tastes inspired from around the world,” David says. “[Plus] it gives me an opportunity to teach the young cooks about international cuisine. Every time, it’s a never-ending experience.