Sean McKay: Winnipeg’s Own Pasta Wizard

Since opening The Mitchell Block several years ago, Sean McKay has lit up Winnipeg’s restaurant scene with his gourmet, Mediterranean-inspired meals. This month he plans to teach Winnipeggers how to recreate one of the restaurant's most sought-after dishes.

Since its opening day, The Mitchell Block has added passion and flavour to Winnipeg’s hospitality scene. The continued success of this homegrown gem can be easily attributed to their mouth-watering, made-from-scratch gourmet meals and the intimate yet inviting charm of the restaurant itself. But one must not discount the humble, knowledge-hungry attitude of the head chef and owner, Sean McKay, who still considers himself an up-and-coming chef.

“I’m still learning every single day and figuring out better ways of doing things.”

Sean’s venture into the world of culinary arts started early on. As a teenager he often found himself experimenting with spices and different flavours in order to hone his craft. And while he was a typical teen who often found himself skipping classes, he would butter his parents up by having a home-cooked meal prepared on the table for them when they came home. “It was a scam that helped to soften the blow,” he laughs.

Upon graduating, Sean found himself working in a variety of restaurant settings that helped to shape him into a well-rounded restaurant professional. “I did everything from serving in a retirement home, to dishwashing, to cooking at both corporate restaurants and small-scale local bistros.” This experience paid off when he decided to ignite Winnipeg’s restaurant scene with The Mitchell Block.

“We cook real food but strive to do it really well.”

The Mitchell Block charms the taste buds of its customers with the made-from-scratch menu items that utilize fresh, locally grown ingredients. And while Sean loves to experiment with flavours and emerging ingredients, his first love is fresh pasta. “If you come to our restaurant you need to try our pasta.”

Since being introduced several years back as a weekly special, the homemade agnolotti has become a beloved staple on the menu. Stuffed with buttery sweet potato purée and finished with garlic brown butter, sage and house-made ricotta, it almost feels too sacred to eat.

Over 100 Winnipeggers will soon learn how to cook the decadent agnolotti themselves from the comfort of their own homes as Sean McKay is slotted to host a Cooking Club session on January 24.

“It’s not easy – even culinary students struggle when making the agnolotti!” Sean has gone to great lengths to make it simple, however, as he will prep all of the ingredients for the attendees and is even going to provide sheets of fresh pasta so that they won’t have to worry about purchasing a pasta roller.

“It’s going to be fun, and I think it will give them all a whole new level of respect for this meal!”

Tickets for Episode 2 of the Exchange District Cooking Club, featuring Chef Sean McKay’s signature agnolotti close on Saturday, January 16th at 5pm. Get them here.