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Boreal Community Media

Thunder Bay Airport transitioning to locally sourced food

Dec 09, 2018 06:22AM ● By Editor
Pine Tree Catering's Nikos Mantis, Shawna Deagle and Airport CEO Ed Schmidtke. Photo:  Leith Dunick,

By Leith Dunick of - December 8, 2018

THUNDER BAY – Persians, local craft beer and coffee and Thunder Oak cheese will all be on the revamped menu at the Thunder Bay International Airport.

Tim Hortons and Pizza Pizza will soon be a thing of the past.

Airport CEO Ed Schmidtke on Thursday announced that starting on Monday the facility will begin making the shift from national chain outlets to locally sourced foods, providing a taste of the city’s growing culinary expertise to those arriving and departing Thunder Bay by air.

“It is absolutely a new era at the airport,” Schmidtke said. “We’re going to have Nomad, operated by Pine Tree Catering, offering food and beverage services that are as close to 100 per cent local as you can do at an airport.

“I think the community understands that for a town of around 115,000 to 120,000 people, we have an exceptionally high level of quality culinary services and we thought it would be a good idea for visitors to the region to be able to experience that in the airport.”

Nikos Mantis, co-owner of Pine Tree Catering, said the menu has been carefully crafted to create a taste of Thunder Bay, so visitors can literally leave with a great taste in their mouths.

“Thunder Bay cuisine to us is kind of a blend of all the different groups that have immigrated from different parts of the world. So it’s an integration of Finnish and Italian, Dutch ... and certainly with an Aboriginal connection being locally here on the land and just really drawing from all the different producers here, growing product that is quite unique to Northwestern Ontario.”

Mantis, who co-owns the company with Shawna Deagle, said they’ve gone to great lengths to source locally produced food.

Everything is also based on a grab-and-go style, for travellers on the move and in a hurry to catch a flight or connect with loved ones.

“In the mornings we’ll have fresh-baked pastries that are made in house, ranging from croissants to muffins to scones and biscottis. We’ll have hot oatmeal available. We’ll have local Thunder Oak cheese plates as well as a bagel bar from Home Slice Bagels,” Mantis said.

“Throughout the day we’ll have a variety of grab-and-go options from sandwiches. We’ve got a pesto chicken wrap. We do a house-made pastrami and sauerkraut. We do a smoked lake trout poke, which is essentially like a sushi burrito with trout from Lake Superior. And local charcuterie, so we have cured meats and cheeses that are made right here in Thunder Bay.”

Mantis said it’s time to let the visiting public in on the secret that is local cuisine, which often comes as a surprise to many travellers.

“Thunder Bay is punching way above its weight class in the culinary scene and we’re super proud to be a part of it.”

Sleeping Giant Brewery is also jumping on board. The company’s craft brews have been for sale at the airport for some time, but with renovations to the passenger lounge, they’ll now be exclusive.

It’s been a great experience, said general manager Kevin Brewer.

 “I think for the airport specifically, it’s a chance to prove that local can be great. It’s a focal point for the city and I think whether you’re coming or you’re going, on a one-hour layover, in town for the weekend or going travelling for the weekend, I think you’re going to see a real focus on the products that Thunder Bay has to offer.”

Schmidtke said he expects the transition to be fully complete by February.

For more news from Thunder Bay and around the region, follow this link to the website.

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