Smokin' up a storm
Smokehouse Cafe in Ndilo open for business

Anne-Marie Jennings
Northern News Services

NNSL (Aug 28/98) - Gordon Burnett has been putting in some very long hours lately.

"I've been working seven days a week, sometimes 14 hours a day for the past three months," he said. "But it's the first time I've really enjoyed what I'm doing.

Burnett is the chef and manager for Bouwa Whee Catering, and, in that role, has begun work on the establishment of a restaurant in Ndilo -- the Smokehouse Cafe.

"I wanted to create a place where people could feel they could come for a relaxing meal," said Burnett, who has worked in a number of different restaurants in Yellowknife before being hired to run the Smokehouse Cafe.

Open for business for two weeks now, the current menu is a smaller version of the menu he hopes to develop in the near future.

If Burnett gets his way, he will soon be serving caribou, whitefish, muskox and buffalo steaks at the cafe.

Burnett said the experience he gained working in restaurants in Yellowknife has proven to be an invaluable asset for him in his new position.

"I know what the other restaurants in town serve and I know what the people like," he said. "I want to bring that into this place.

"You can't make char Wellington or beef Wellington right unless you've done it before."

And although some people might think that opening a new restaurant in Yellowknife was time-consuming enough, the Smokehouse Cafe is only one of a number of projects Burnett has on the go.

In addition to the restaurant, Burnett is also managing a convenience store, which is housed in the same building, and is also busy continuing to run his catering company.

Bouwa Whee Catering has been steadily gaining momentum in recent weeks, with a number of companies already making arrangements for the catering of Christmas parties.

"We're at the point where the dates are already getting booked," Burnett said. "There are a few days where I could book some medium-sized events, but there are some which are already booked solid."

Burnett is also quick to add that great attention is being paid to every detail, an expensive proposition for a fledgling restaurant, but a choice which Burnett feels will ultimately pay off.

"We want to do things right the first time," he said. "If the food is fine but the service is awful, people aren't necessarily going to come back.

"We have already had people calling back for additional catering. I think that says something."