Stephanie Piché has spent untold amounts of time travelling, and she’s cultivated her experiences into the mood, food and libations at her restaurant.
The Executive Chef and Owner of Wander Food & Wine is focused on making every customer’s visit an experience, and not just a meal. It’s a willingness to pivot and try new things that has made the restaurant a success.
“As a whole, we’ve always focused on change. We got through COVID-19 because we always changed. We knew we needed to get our food, atmosphere and ambiance to people – Whether they dined with us or we brought it to them,” said Piché.
“We opened in January 2020, which wasn’t the greatest timing. We had construction for six months to turn the old Frank’s Deli location into a spot with new life. We have become the only authentic wine bar in Northern Ontario, and I’m really proud to bring that to people.”
As she travelled with her husband, she realized menu and wine lists are constantly changing in other vineyards or restaurants, and she’s consistently bringing new concepts forward.
“I keep going out and taking notes when I travel. Whether we were doing wine kits and YouTube videos or wine classes during shutdown or handling special events, there are always things happening,” she said.
“We have pairing menus, specialty menus, and things are always shifting. Some people only go to the same restaurant every few months, but they get excited to come back here because our food and wine lists change monthly. We embrace that change, and it’s part of who we are.”
She owned catering company Legacy Catering for years and worked as a private chef, hosting cooking classes at a local kitchen supply store. With a love for culinary arts and tourism, she went to 44 countries and geared her trips toward food and drink.
“I’d go and experience everything, talk to wine makers, and bring that experience back to showcase to our guests. They don’t have to leave Sudbury to get that experience,” she said.
“I always loved the idea of food and wine pairings, and all palates are different. With combinations of flavours and acidity, people’s background and cultures, there’s a different reaction each time. I love the expression on people’s faces when I find the proper wine pairing. It changes the experience.”
While wine became a passion later in life, food has always been at the forefront for the restaurateur.
“I was that strange kid who couldn’t wait to grow up so I could have dinner parties. I would plan menus, and my brother and I would wait for my parents to go away so we could raid the fridge and freezer and make dishes,” she said.
“My mother cooked and baked, as did both grandmothers. Food and drink was at the core of entertaining. This was a natural progression, and when I started catering, people would ask about wine pairings. Rather than go and learn about wines in a class, I just went to wine regions directly. People wanted overviews, not to know soil types or things like that. So that’s what I gave people.”
Family got her into cooking, and remains integral as her son Alex is the General Manager at Wander. He is following in her footsteps, and hosting groups and classes.
One thing she says herself, Alex and her staff learned quickly is how people connected to the food and wine they served.
“They love stories. People want to hear the stories about wine, their regions, and about the families who make it. Human history is fascinating, so we always learn new stories to share with people about what they’re drinking,” she said.
Their December menu, New Years Eve menu, specials and calendar of events were just released, playing host to a number of deals for guests. They are also now taking bookings on Holiday parties.
“I get calls and emails every day from people who want to come with their office, or from folks who haven’t been here before. At a snapshot, we’re a cozy venue with a capacity of 28 seated,” she said.
“Our Thursdays are booked up, but we still have Friday and Saturday availability for booking parties. We are different, and we’re proud to show people that. We customize events, have specialty cocktail programs, and an in-house DJ to provide ambiance. No group event will be the same, and that keeps things fun.”
She recommends reservations in advance, and they can be made online. Groups over eight should contact the restaurant directly. She is so excited for the coming holiday season, and the future of Wander.
“We are proud to be everchanging, and we love providing fresh and interesting experiences to guests. We have so much in store the next few months, and we can’t wait to have guests in, new and old,” she said.
For more information about Wander and their Holiday Season menus and events, visit them online here.