Hungry? We hope so, because we’ve got a treat for you today. Food and drink plays such a major role in special events, and Calgary Stampede is certainly no different. The Midway is a huge part of the festival, and Midway food continues to get more creative, more inventive, and more enticing every year, as seen in this year’s lineup featuring everything from charcoal ice cream to deep-fried everything.

To get in on the fun and get you inspired (ie. hungry), we enlisted some of our favourite local chefs and bartenders to come up with creative food and drink ideas inspired by the greatest outdoor show on earth, and they’ve knocked it out of the park. Our inboxes have been making us hungry for weeks now as we’ve been fielding the submissions, so without further ado, let’s see what the pros have cooking, shall we?

Who: Hotel Arts
What: East Meets West Beef-on-a-Bun
Tell me more: 
Consider this the new – and vastly improved – beef-on-a-bun. “Trade in the traditional BBQ and surprise guests with interesting flavours and presentations,” the team said about their creation. This Korean twist on a cowboy classic features tender beef striploin topped with house-pickled vegetables, kimchi aioli, house hot sauce, cilantro, and green onions. You can serve these prepared, or offer a build-your-own station to get into that buffet spirit.

Who: Hotel Arts
What: Grown-Up Gushers
Tell me more: The culinary events team at Hotel Arts has been playing with this adult twist on the gusher, that classic children’s candy, and we’re excited to get to be the first to reveal this creation straight from their test kitchen! As always, the team loves to push boundaries and surprise guests, and this liquor-filled treat certainly does just that with fun jelly flavours like Pina Colada and Appletini.

About Hotel Arts:
There are many things to love about Hotel Arts, but their talent for consistently coming up with unique and creative menus for banquet events and offsite catering is definitely a frontrunner – and we’re not just saying that now. The team puts their commitment to and passion for Calgary and the spirit and energy of Calgarians into their food creations, including the annual chance to both embrace Stampede and continue to elevate the culinary expectations that come with the 10-day celebration of all things western.

When it comes to planning your Stampede menu, the Hotel Arts team suggests “drawing inspiration from the usual Stampede eats, and adding new and memorable twists.”

Connect with Hotel Arts YYC on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

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Who: The Nash Catering
What: Bats In The Belfry
Tell me more: Like any outdoor festival, Stampede is full of classic midway food, in all of its deep-fried glory. With Bats in the Belfry, Mitch Vernaroli, bar manager at Off Cut Bar and The Nash, tosses a nod to those ubiquitous snacks while definitely cranking things up a notch. The Bacardi logo inspired this cocktail’s name, and it features both Bacardi 8 and Bacardi Banana, along with Averna, Malabar syrup, and Giffard Vanille de Madagascar – and that’s just to get things started. To help you pull a classic Stampede all-nighter, the cocktail also features cold brew from Off Cut Bar, making it the perfect drink and the perfect stop on your way to the Stampede grounds. Topped off with in-house Josper roasted banana cream, a chocolate marshmallow, and banana beignets, we think it’s safe to say you can skip the same old treats this year.

About The Nash:
The Nash is the latest vision of Chef Michael Nobel of NOtaBLE. With The Nash, Chef Michael “throws an inventive new menu and a dash of urban grit into the mix.” Along with dining at the restaurant, you can grab drinks at Off Cut Bar, take something from Gourmet 2 Go home with you, or of course enlist their expertise and creativity for your event with their delicious group dining and catering.  

Find The Nash YYC on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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Who: Fork + Farm Catered Events
What: Fancy Pancy Lobster Corn Dogs
Tell me more: Step 1: Take a deep-fried food-on-a-stick synonymous with midway eating that most adults will admit they hate to love, and Step 2: Combine it with a food you normally find in fancy steakhouses or charming seaside restaurants. The end result is a decidedly next-level Stampede treat. In this coast-meets-prairies creation from Fork + Farm, flavourful lobster is mixed with aromatic tarragon and coated in a homemade corn dog batter, then fried to perfection. Of course if you’re going to eat something on a stick, dipping sauce is essential, so they’ve finished with a grainy mustard dip. Take it from the pros here and don’t skimp on the mustard – “Be sure to go with dijon” – and count extra points for style – “eat with one pinky all the way out.”
Looks delicious, right? Well, get out your lobster bib because the lovely folks at Fork + Farm went so far as to share the full recipe, along with this #chefhack to help you achieve perfection:
“When prepping your tarragon, make sure you let the herb completely dry before chopping it; even slightly damp herbs tend to turn to mush when chopped, making it harder for them to separate and mix into the entire sausage.”
Download the recipe here, and let us know how it turns out.

About Fork + Farm:
When we asked Dennis Jeffery, head chef and co-owner of Fork + Farm, to create an inventive Stampede recipe he jumped at the challenge; after all, as he put it, “One of our favourite things to do at Fork + Farm is take old recipes and traditional ways of cooking and find new and exciting approaches.” This premium full-service catering and event team always draws inspiration from the very best in local and seasonal ingredients, and Stampede is just another chance to do just that. It’s a great chance for all of us who aren’t professional chefs too, as Chef Dennis points out that, “Midway food is a great place to start experimenting if you’re an at-home chef looking to have some fun with some traditional recipes – just remember that your recipe is only as limited as your imagination, and deep-fried is always a good option.” Words to live by.

See what else Chef Dennis is cooking by following Fork + Farm on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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Who: WinSport
What: Mini-donuts with a spicy cheese sauce on a stick
Tell me more: Yes, you read that correctly; no, we could not have made this up. Let’s let WinSport’s executive chef Liana Robberecht and sous chef Melanie Hennessey explain: “Mini-donuts are the number one attraction at the midway, so we made something using some crazy, unusual combinations of food that go together.” Crazy and unusual it may be, but we’ll try anything once, especially when we know we can trust WinSport’s chefs when it comes to combining foods that you never knew went together until they set the dish in front of you. They’ve pretty much covered the gamut of flavours with this one: “We looked at something spicy, hot, sweet, and savoury,” chefs Liana and Melanie said, and “all on a stick, which fits the theme of the Calgary Stampede midway.”

About WinSport:
WinSport is a not-for-profit organization that owns and operates Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, the Bill Warren Training Centre at the Canmore Nordic Centre in Canmore, Alberta, and the Beckie Scott High Performance Training Centre on Haig Glacier, Alberta, as well as support for the Olympic Oval at the University of Calgary. Along with supporting Canadian high-performance athletes, WinSport is dedicated to introducing weekend warriors and ordinary adventurers to outdoor mountain sports, and advocating for how these activities can not just enhance, but completely change our lives for the better.

Keep up with WinSport by following them on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

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With Stampede just weeks away, it’s officially time to get into the spirit – and that includes your closet. No matter what your personal style, check out these local apparel companies who can get you dressed for Stampede success. (They can also help you come through with corporate gifting that won’t end up in the back of someone’s closet.) For more Stampede inspo, see how we shared Stampede’s spirit and storied history with a group of international visitors here, with more great photos from the event here.