New recipes

Winner, Winner, Grilled Chicken Dinner

Winner, Winner, Grilled Chicken Dinner


Grilled chicken. Yes, we realize you're probably groaning and thinking to yourself, "enough with chicken." But there's a reason that so many people cook it for dinner — it can be dressed up and eaten in many different ways. Not only can it be grilled, but it can be stuffed, broiled, sautéed, fried, braised, boiled, steamed, and stewed. Grilling, though, is one of the easiest ways, especially in the summer. Pair it with chutneys, fruit salsas, spicy marinades, fruit marinades, or cook up wings and brush them with a thick barbecue sauce for easy and tasty party snacks.

Plus, chicken breasts are lean, an excellent source protein, and, when you remove the skin, are low in fat and calories. When shopping for whole chickens, look for unbruised, smooth skin that doesn't give off an odor and it's a good idea to use fresh chicken breasts within a couple of days. Because salmonella is a threat with chicken, make sure to handle raw chicken very carefully and to wash any knives or cutting boards that it comes in contact with as well as your hands before touching any other foods. Avoid eating raw chicken and cook boneless and bone-in chicken to 165 degrees internally.

Most importantly though, try to buy good quality and fresh meat and enjoy what you make. Eat the following dishes alone or pair them with grilled corn, potato salad, greens, or other grilled vegetables.

If you haven't had Alabama white sauce you've missed out on a life-changing moment. Unlike other barbecue sauces, Alabama white sauce uses mayonnaise as its base...

— Arthur Bovino

When you are breaking down a chicken breast, the tenderloin is the strip or flap of meat attached to the larger, teardrop-shaped section. Some say it really is more tender...

— Valaer Murray

Spatchcocked is just a fun word to say. Plus, when you do it, you get a tender, moist, and flavorful bird...

— Yasmin Fahr

If you're going with grilled chicken for dinner, odds are you're looking to keep the cooking process nice and simple...

— Maryse Chevriere

Some grilling experts will tell you that you can't smoke anything on a gas grill...

— Colman Andrews

The tangy barbecue sauce used in this recipe is inspired by the sauce served at Hamburger Mary's in Chicago.

— Molly Aronica


Pumphouse chef is pumped to share his recipe for Korean fried chicken

Fried chicken is more than just comfort food for chef Mark Merano. The deep-fried, finger lickin&rsquo delicacy has become a way to stay connected with friends and a source of culinary inspiration during the pandemic.

Fried chicken is more than just comfort food for chef Mark Merano. The deep-fried, finger lickin&rsquo delicacy has become a way to stay connected with friends and a source of culinary inspiration during the pandemic.

Merano, 30, is the executive chef at James Avenue Pumphouse, a new restaurant opening this summer inside the revamped former pumping station at 109 James Ave. in the east Exchange District. After years of sous-cheffing, this will be his first opportunity to lead a kitchen and create a menu that&rsquos entirely his own &mdash high on the list is his recipe for Korean fried chicken.

"When I first made it, right away I jumped for joy," he says. "Then my fiancée had it and now it&rsquos one of those things where. she doesn&rsquot want to have any other fried chicken than mine."

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

James Avenue Pumphouse executive chef Mark Merano with his Korean fried chicken, a delicacy that helps him stay connected with friends.

Merano&rsquos version starts with marinated chicken thighs battered in potato starch &mdash the best breading, in his opinion &mdash and double fried for extra crunch. The crispy nuggets are then tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce made from gochujang, a fermented Korean red chili paste that provides a hit of umami.

The dish has also gotten rave reviews from buddies. Merano has been testing recipes non-stop during lockdown and dropping takeout containers on doorsteps to share his experiments with friends.

"Some were saying, &lsquoHey, can you sell this? I&rsquod buy it every week, every day even," he says. "Everyone enjoyed it and I like making food that makes everyone happy."

Food has been central to some of his closest and longest friendships.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Merano&rsquos fiancée doesn't want any other type of fried chicken.

Merano doesn&rsquot come from a particularly foodie family and he wasn&rsquot following his passion when he applied at Moxie&rsquos Bar and Grill when he was 18 years old. He was just looking for a job.

"I started off as a dishwasher&hellip and then I kind of moved up the ladder and started cooking here and there," he says. "After a couple of years I thought to myself, &lsquoHey, what am I doing? Let&rsquos kick it up a notch.&rsquo So, I got more in-depth with learning how to cook and I would say my whole time with Moxie&rsquos was kind of my school."

He&rsquos spent more than a decade working for the company at nearly every location in the city &mdash he even relocated to Fort McMurray for a few years to work at a Moxie&rsquos restaurant there, returning when the pandemic hit.

"It was a complete change from being in Winnipeg, it was a smaller town&hellip everyone there was just there to work, so you kind of just work, go home, work, go home," he says. "Me and my fiancée learned to enjoy what we had and it made us appreciate coming back."

Over time, Merano developed a genuine love of food and cooking. He started entering in-house cooking contests and developing his own style outside of work hours. The Food Network was on at home 24-7 and, pre-pandemic, he hosted weekly Sunday dinners for a group of friends from his junior high days. The event was dubbed "Merano&rsquos Bistro."

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

"Everyone enjoyed it and I like making food that makes everyone happy," Merano says.

"I would cook food for a few of my closest friends while having beers and socializing and they would even get their hands dirty and help me out cooking is a very social thing for me," he says. "As we grow older and our lives get busier those (dinners) are one of the things we look forward to and work our schedules around."

These days, he&rsquos working full-time testing recipes for Pumphouse. Merano is excited, if not a little nervous, for the next chapter.

"I feel like it&rsquos good nervous. Throughout my career, any promotion I would get or any new experience I would hope for that nervousness because it helps you grow," he says. "The goal at Pumphouse is a place where you can gather with your friends and eat good, drink good kind of like (what) envisioned when I had my dinners at home on Sundays with my friends."


Pumphouse chef is pumped to share his recipe for Korean fried chicken

Fried chicken is more than just comfort food for chef Mark Merano. The deep-fried, finger lickin&rsquo delicacy has become a way to stay connected with friends and a source of culinary inspiration during the pandemic.

Fried chicken is more than just comfort food for chef Mark Merano. The deep-fried, finger lickin&rsquo delicacy has become a way to stay connected with friends and a source of culinary inspiration during the pandemic.

Merano, 30, is the executive chef at James Avenue Pumphouse, a new restaurant opening this summer inside the revamped former pumping station at 109 James Ave. in the east Exchange District. After years of sous-cheffing, this will be his first opportunity to lead a kitchen and create a menu that&rsquos entirely his own &mdash high on the list is his recipe for Korean fried chicken.

"When I first made it, right away I jumped for joy," he says. "Then my fiancée had it and now it&rsquos one of those things where. she doesn&rsquot want to have any other fried chicken than mine."

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

James Avenue Pumphouse executive chef Mark Merano with his Korean fried chicken, a delicacy that helps him stay connected with friends.

Merano&rsquos version starts with marinated chicken thighs battered in potato starch &mdash the best breading, in his opinion &mdash and double fried for extra crunch. The crispy nuggets are then tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce made from gochujang, a fermented Korean red chili paste that provides a hit of umami.

The dish has also gotten rave reviews from buddies. Merano has been testing recipes non-stop during lockdown and dropping takeout containers on doorsteps to share his experiments with friends.

"Some were saying, &lsquoHey, can you sell this? I&rsquod buy it every week, every day even," he says. "Everyone enjoyed it and I like making food that makes everyone happy."

Food has been central to some of his closest and longest friendships.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Merano&rsquos fiancée doesn't want any other type of fried chicken.

Merano doesn&rsquot come from a particularly foodie family and he wasn&rsquot following his passion when he applied at Moxie&rsquos Bar and Grill when he was 18 years old. He was just looking for a job.

"I started off as a dishwasher&hellip and then I kind of moved up the ladder and started cooking here and there," he says. "After a couple of years I thought to myself, &lsquoHey, what am I doing? Let&rsquos kick it up a notch.&rsquo So, I got more in-depth with learning how to cook and I would say my whole time with Moxie&rsquos was kind of my school."

He&rsquos spent more than a decade working for the company at nearly every location in the city &mdash he even relocated to Fort McMurray for a few years to work at a Moxie&rsquos restaurant there, returning when the pandemic hit.

"It was a complete change from being in Winnipeg, it was a smaller town&hellip everyone there was just there to work, so you kind of just work, go home, work, go home," he says. "Me and my fiancée learned to enjoy what we had and it made us appreciate coming back."

Over time, Merano developed a genuine love of food and cooking. He started entering in-house cooking contests and developing his own style outside of work hours. The Food Network was on at home 24-7 and, pre-pandemic, he hosted weekly Sunday dinners for a group of friends from his junior high days. The event was dubbed "Merano&rsquos Bistro."

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

"Everyone enjoyed it and I like making food that makes everyone happy," Merano says.

"I would cook food for a few of my closest friends while having beers and socializing and they would even get their hands dirty and help me out cooking is a very social thing for me," he says. "As we grow older and our lives get busier those (dinners) are one of the things we look forward to and work our schedules around."

These days, he&rsquos working full-time testing recipes for Pumphouse. Merano is excited, if not a little nervous, for the next chapter.

"I feel like it&rsquos good nervous. Throughout my career, any promotion I would get or any new experience I would hope for that nervousness because it helps you grow," he says. "The goal at Pumphouse is a place where you can gather with your friends and eat good, drink good kind of like (what) envisioned when I had my dinners at home on Sundays with my friends."


Pumphouse chef is pumped to share his recipe for Korean fried chicken

Fried chicken is more than just comfort food for chef Mark Merano. The deep-fried, finger lickin&rsquo delicacy has become a way to stay connected with friends and a source of culinary inspiration during the pandemic.

Fried chicken is more than just comfort food for chef Mark Merano. The deep-fried, finger lickin&rsquo delicacy has become a way to stay connected with friends and a source of culinary inspiration during the pandemic.

Merano, 30, is the executive chef at James Avenue Pumphouse, a new restaurant opening this summer inside the revamped former pumping station at 109 James Ave. in the east Exchange District. After years of sous-cheffing, this will be his first opportunity to lead a kitchen and create a menu that&rsquos entirely his own &mdash high on the list is his recipe for Korean fried chicken.

"When I first made it, right away I jumped for joy," he says. "Then my fiancée had it and now it&rsquos one of those things where. she doesn&rsquot want to have any other fried chicken than mine."

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

James Avenue Pumphouse executive chef Mark Merano with his Korean fried chicken, a delicacy that helps him stay connected with friends.

Merano&rsquos version starts with marinated chicken thighs battered in potato starch &mdash the best breading, in his opinion &mdash and double fried for extra crunch. The crispy nuggets are then tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce made from gochujang, a fermented Korean red chili paste that provides a hit of umami.

The dish has also gotten rave reviews from buddies. Merano has been testing recipes non-stop during lockdown and dropping takeout containers on doorsteps to share his experiments with friends.

"Some were saying, &lsquoHey, can you sell this? I&rsquod buy it every week, every day even," he says. "Everyone enjoyed it and I like making food that makes everyone happy."

Food has been central to some of his closest and longest friendships.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Merano&rsquos fiancée doesn't want any other type of fried chicken.

Merano doesn&rsquot come from a particularly foodie family and he wasn&rsquot following his passion when he applied at Moxie&rsquos Bar and Grill when he was 18 years old. He was just looking for a job.

"I started off as a dishwasher&hellip and then I kind of moved up the ladder and started cooking here and there," he says. "After a couple of years I thought to myself, &lsquoHey, what am I doing? Let&rsquos kick it up a notch.&rsquo So, I got more in-depth with learning how to cook and I would say my whole time with Moxie&rsquos was kind of my school."

He&rsquos spent more than a decade working for the company at nearly every location in the city &mdash he even relocated to Fort McMurray for a few years to work at a Moxie&rsquos restaurant there, returning when the pandemic hit.

"It was a complete change from being in Winnipeg, it was a smaller town&hellip everyone there was just there to work, so you kind of just work, go home, work, go home," he says. "Me and my fiancée learned to enjoy what we had and it made us appreciate coming back."

Over time, Merano developed a genuine love of food and cooking. He started entering in-house cooking contests and developing his own style outside of work hours. The Food Network was on at home 24-7 and, pre-pandemic, he hosted weekly Sunday dinners for a group of friends from his junior high days. The event was dubbed "Merano&rsquos Bistro."

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

"Everyone enjoyed it and I like making food that makes everyone happy," Merano says.

"I would cook food for a few of my closest friends while having beers and socializing and they would even get their hands dirty and help me out cooking is a very social thing for me," he says. "As we grow older and our lives get busier those (dinners) are one of the things we look forward to and work our schedules around."

These days, he&rsquos working full-time testing recipes for Pumphouse. Merano is excited, if not a little nervous, for the next chapter.

"I feel like it&rsquos good nervous. Throughout my career, any promotion I would get or any new experience I would hope for that nervousness because it helps you grow," he says. "The goal at Pumphouse is a place where you can gather with your friends and eat good, drink good kind of like (what) envisioned when I had my dinners at home on Sundays with my friends."


Pumphouse chef is pumped to share his recipe for Korean fried chicken

Fried chicken is more than just comfort food for chef Mark Merano. The deep-fried, finger lickin&rsquo delicacy has become a way to stay connected with friends and a source of culinary inspiration during the pandemic.

Fried chicken is more than just comfort food for chef Mark Merano. The deep-fried, finger lickin&rsquo delicacy has become a way to stay connected with friends and a source of culinary inspiration during the pandemic.

Merano, 30, is the executive chef at James Avenue Pumphouse, a new restaurant opening this summer inside the revamped former pumping station at 109 James Ave. in the east Exchange District. After years of sous-cheffing, this will be his first opportunity to lead a kitchen and create a menu that&rsquos entirely his own &mdash high on the list is his recipe for Korean fried chicken.

"When I first made it, right away I jumped for joy," he says. "Then my fiancée had it and now it&rsquos one of those things where. she doesn&rsquot want to have any other fried chicken than mine."

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

James Avenue Pumphouse executive chef Mark Merano with his Korean fried chicken, a delicacy that helps him stay connected with friends.

Merano&rsquos version starts with marinated chicken thighs battered in potato starch &mdash the best breading, in his opinion &mdash and double fried for extra crunch. The crispy nuggets are then tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce made from gochujang, a fermented Korean red chili paste that provides a hit of umami.

The dish has also gotten rave reviews from buddies. Merano has been testing recipes non-stop during lockdown and dropping takeout containers on doorsteps to share his experiments with friends.

"Some were saying, &lsquoHey, can you sell this? I&rsquod buy it every week, every day even," he says. "Everyone enjoyed it and I like making food that makes everyone happy."

Food has been central to some of his closest and longest friendships.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Merano&rsquos fiancée doesn't want any other type of fried chicken.

Merano doesn&rsquot come from a particularly foodie family and he wasn&rsquot following his passion when he applied at Moxie&rsquos Bar and Grill when he was 18 years old. He was just looking for a job.

"I started off as a dishwasher&hellip and then I kind of moved up the ladder and started cooking here and there," he says. "After a couple of years I thought to myself, &lsquoHey, what am I doing? Let&rsquos kick it up a notch.&rsquo So, I got more in-depth with learning how to cook and I would say my whole time with Moxie&rsquos was kind of my school."

He&rsquos spent more than a decade working for the company at nearly every location in the city &mdash he even relocated to Fort McMurray for a few years to work at a Moxie&rsquos restaurant there, returning when the pandemic hit.

"It was a complete change from being in Winnipeg, it was a smaller town&hellip everyone there was just there to work, so you kind of just work, go home, work, go home," he says. "Me and my fiancée learned to enjoy what we had and it made us appreciate coming back."

Over time, Merano developed a genuine love of food and cooking. He started entering in-house cooking contests and developing his own style outside of work hours. The Food Network was on at home 24-7 and, pre-pandemic, he hosted weekly Sunday dinners for a group of friends from his junior high days. The event was dubbed "Merano&rsquos Bistro."

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

"Everyone enjoyed it and I like making food that makes everyone happy," Merano says.

"I would cook food for a few of my closest friends while having beers and socializing and they would even get their hands dirty and help me out cooking is a very social thing for me," he says. "As we grow older and our lives get busier those (dinners) are one of the things we look forward to and work our schedules around."

These days, he&rsquos working full-time testing recipes for Pumphouse. Merano is excited, if not a little nervous, for the next chapter.

"I feel like it&rsquos good nervous. Throughout my career, any promotion I would get or any new experience I would hope for that nervousness because it helps you grow," he says. "The goal at Pumphouse is a place where you can gather with your friends and eat good, drink good kind of like (what) envisioned when I had my dinners at home on Sundays with my friends."


Pumphouse chef is pumped to share his recipe for Korean fried chicken

Fried chicken is more than just comfort food for chef Mark Merano. The deep-fried, finger lickin&rsquo delicacy has become a way to stay connected with friends and a source of culinary inspiration during the pandemic.

Fried chicken is more than just comfort food for chef Mark Merano. The deep-fried, finger lickin&rsquo delicacy has become a way to stay connected with friends and a source of culinary inspiration during the pandemic.

Merano, 30, is the executive chef at James Avenue Pumphouse, a new restaurant opening this summer inside the revamped former pumping station at 109 James Ave. in the east Exchange District. After years of sous-cheffing, this will be his first opportunity to lead a kitchen and create a menu that&rsquos entirely his own &mdash high on the list is his recipe for Korean fried chicken.

"When I first made it, right away I jumped for joy," he says. "Then my fiancée had it and now it&rsquos one of those things where. she doesn&rsquot want to have any other fried chicken than mine."

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

James Avenue Pumphouse executive chef Mark Merano with his Korean fried chicken, a delicacy that helps him stay connected with friends.

Merano&rsquos version starts with marinated chicken thighs battered in potato starch &mdash the best breading, in his opinion &mdash and double fried for extra crunch. The crispy nuggets are then tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce made from gochujang, a fermented Korean red chili paste that provides a hit of umami.

The dish has also gotten rave reviews from buddies. Merano has been testing recipes non-stop during lockdown and dropping takeout containers on doorsteps to share his experiments with friends.

"Some were saying, &lsquoHey, can you sell this? I&rsquod buy it every week, every day even," he says. "Everyone enjoyed it and I like making food that makes everyone happy."

Food has been central to some of his closest and longest friendships.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Merano&rsquos fiancée doesn't want any other type of fried chicken.

Merano doesn&rsquot come from a particularly foodie family and he wasn&rsquot following his passion when he applied at Moxie&rsquos Bar and Grill when he was 18 years old. He was just looking for a job.

"I started off as a dishwasher&hellip and then I kind of moved up the ladder and started cooking here and there," he says. "After a couple of years I thought to myself, &lsquoHey, what am I doing? Let&rsquos kick it up a notch.&rsquo So, I got more in-depth with learning how to cook and I would say my whole time with Moxie&rsquos was kind of my school."

He&rsquos spent more than a decade working for the company at nearly every location in the city &mdash he even relocated to Fort McMurray for a few years to work at a Moxie&rsquos restaurant there, returning when the pandemic hit.

"It was a complete change from being in Winnipeg, it was a smaller town&hellip everyone there was just there to work, so you kind of just work, go home, work, go home," he says. "Me and my fiancée learned to enjoy what we had and it made us appreciate coming back."

Over time, Merano developed a genuine love of food and cooking. He started entering in-house cooking contests and developing his own style outside of work hours. The Food Network was on at home 24-7 and, pre-pandemic, he hosted weekly Sunday dinners for a group of friends from his junior high days. The event was dubbed "Merano&rsquos Bistro."

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

"Everyone enjoyed it and I like making food that makes everyone happy," Merano says.

"I would cook food for a few of my closest friends while having beers and socializing and they would even get their hands dirty and help me out cooking is a very social thing for me," he says. "As we grow older and our lives get busier those (dinners) are one of the things we look forward to and work our schedules around."

These days, he&rsquos working full-time testing recipes for Pumphouse. Merano is excited, if not a little nervous, for the next chapter.

"I feel like it&rsquos good nervous. Throughout my career, any promotion I would get or any new experience I would hope for that nervousness because it helps you grow," he says. "The goal at Pumphouse is a place where you can gather with your friends and eat good, drink good kind of like (what) envisioned when I had my dinners at home on Sundays with my friends."


Pumphouse chef is pumped to share his recipe for Korean fried chicken

Fried chicken is more than just comfort food for chef Mark Merano. The deep-fried, finger lickin&rsquo delicacy has become a way to stay connected with friends and a source of culinary inspiration during the pandemic.

Fried chicken is more than just comfort food for chef Mark Merano. The deep-fried, finger lickin&rsquo delicacy has become a way to stay connected with friends and a source of culinary inspiration during the pandemic.

Merano, 30, is the executive chef at James Avenue Pumphouse, a new restaurant opening this summer inside the revamped former pumping station at 109 James Ave. in the east Exchange District. After years of sous-cheffing, this will be his first opportunity to lead a kitchen and create a menu that&rsquos entirely his own &mdash high on the list is his recipe for Korean fried chicken.

"When I first made it, right away I jumped for joy," he says. "Then my fiancée had it and now it&rsquos one of those things where. she doesn&rsquot want to have any other fried chicken than mine."

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

James Avenue Pumphouse executive chef Mark Merano with his Korean fried chicken, a delicacy that helps him stay connected with friends.

Merano&rsquos version starts with marinated chicken thighs battered in potato starch &mdash the best breading, in his opinion &mdash and double fried for extra crunch. The crispy nuggets are then tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce made from gochujang, a fermented Korean red chili paste that provides a hit of umami.

The dish has also gotten rave reviews from buddies. Merano has been testing recipes non-stop during lockdown and dropping takeout containers on doorsteps to share his experiments with friends.

"Some were saying, &lsquoHey, can you sell this? I&rsquod buy it every week, every day even," he says. "Everyone enjoyed it and I like making food that makes everyone happy."

Food has been central to some of his closest and longest friendships.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Merano&rsquos fiancée doesn't want any other type of fried chicken.

Merano doesn&rsquot come from a particularly foodie family and he wasn&rsquot following his passion when he applied at Moxie&rsquos Bar and Grill when he was 18 years old. He was just looking for a job.

"I started off as a dishwasher&hellip and then I kind of moved up the ladder and started cooking here and there," he says. "After a couple of years I thought to myself, &lsquoHey, what am I doing? Let&rsquos kick it up a notch.&rsquo So, I got more in-depth with learning how to cook and I would say my whole time with Moxie&rsquos was kind of my school."

He&rsquos spent more than a decade working for the company at nearly every location in the city &mdash he even relocated to Fort McMurray for a few years to work at a Moxie&rsquos restaurant there, returning when the pandemic hit.

"It was a complete change from being in Winnipeg, it was a smaller town&hellip everyone there was just there to work, so you kind of just work, go home, work, go home," he says. "Me and my fiancée learned to enjoy what we had and it made us appreciate coming back."

Over time, Merano developed a genuine love of food and cooking. He started entering in-house cooking contests and developing his own style outside of work hours. The Food Network was on at home 24-7 and, pre-pandemic, he hosted weekly Sunday dinners for a group of friends from his junior high days. The event was dubbed "Merano&rsquos Bistro."

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

"Everyone enjoyed it and I like making food that makes everyone happy," Merano says.

"I would cook food for a few of my closest friends while having beers and socializing and they would even get their hands dirty and help me out cooking is a very social thing for me," he says. "As we grow older and our lives get busier those (dinners) are one of the things we look forward to and work our schedules around."

These days, he&rsquos working full-time testing recipes for Pumphouse. Merano is excited, if not a little nervous, for the next chapter.

"I feel like it&rsquos good nervous. Throughout my career, any promotion I would get or any new experience I would hope for that nervousness because it helps you grow," he says. "The goal at Pumphouse is a place where you can gather with your friends and eat good, drink good kind of like (what) envisioned when I had my dinners at home on Sundays with my friends."


Pumphouse chef is pumped to share his recipe for Korean fried chicken

Fried chicken is more than just comfort food for chef Mark Merano. The deep-fried, finger lickin&rsquo delicacy has become a way to stay connected with friends and a source of culinary inspiration during the pandemic.

Fried chicken is more than just comfort food for chef Mark Merano. The deep-fried, finger lickin&rsquo delicacy has become a way to stay connected with friends and a source of culinary inspiration during the pandemic.

Merano, 30, is the executive chef at James Avenue Pumphouse, a new restaurant opening this summer inside the revamped former pumping station at 109 James Ave. in the east Exchange District. After years of sous-cheffing, this will be his first opportunity to lead a kitchen and create a menu that&rsquos entirely his own &mdash high on the list is his recipe for Korean fried chicken.

"When I first made it, right away I jumped for joy," he says. "Then my fiancée had it and now it&rsquos one of those things where. she doesn&rsquot want to have any other fried chicken than mine."

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

James Avenue Pumphouse executive chef Mark Merano with his Korean fried chicken, a delicacy that helps him stay connected with friends.

Merano&rsquos version starts with marinated chicken thighs battered in potato starch &mdash the best breading, in his opinion &mdash and double fried for extra crunch. The crispy nuggets are then tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce made from gochujang, a fermented Korean red chili paste that provides a hit of umami.

The dish has also gotten rave reviews from buddies. Merano has been testing recipes non-stop during lockdown and dropping takeout containers on doorsteps to share his experiments with friends.

"Some were saying, &lsquoHey, can you sell this? I&rsquod buy it every week, every day even," he says. "Everyone enjoyed it and I like making food that makes everyone happy."

Food has been central to some of his closest and longest friendships.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Merano&rsquos fiancée doesn't want any other type of fried chicken.

Merano doesn&rsquot come from a particularly foodie family and he wasn&rsquot following his passion when he applied at Moxie&rsquos Bar and Grill when he was 18 years old. He was just looking for a job.

"I started off as a dishwasher&hellip and then I kind of moved up the ladder and started cooking here and there," he says. "After a couple of years I thought to myself, &lsquoHey, what am I doing? Let&rsquos kick it up a notch.&rsquo So, I got more in-depth with learning how to cook and I would say my whole time with Moxie&rsquos was kind of my school."

He&rsquos spent more than a decade working for the company at nearly every location in the city &mdash he even relocated to Fort McMurray for a few years to work at a Moxie&rsquos restaurant there, returning when the pandemic hit.

"It was a complete change from being in Winnipeg, it was a smaller town&hellip everyone there was just there to work, so you kind of just work, go home, work, go home," he says. "Me and my fiancée learned to enjoy what we had and it made us appreciate coming back."

Over time, Merano developed a genuine love of food and cooking. He started entering in-house cooking contests and developing his own style outside of work hours. The Food Network was on at home 24-7 and, pre-pandemic, he hosted weekly Sunday dinners for a group of friends from his junior high days. The event was dubbed "Merano&rsquos Bistro."

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

"Everyone enjoyed it and I like making food that makes everyone happy," Merano says.

"I would cook food for a few of my closest friends while having beers and socializing and they would even get their hands dirty and help me out cooking is a very social thing for me," he says. "As we grow older and our lives get busier those (dinners) are one of the things we look forward to and work our schedules around."

These days, he&rsquos working full-time testing recipes for Pumphouse. Merano is excited, if not a little nervous, for the next chapter.

"I feel like it&rsquos good nervous. Throughout my career, any promotion I would get or any new experience I would hope for that nervousness because it helps you grow," he says. "The goal at Pumphouse is a place where you can gather with your friends and eat good, drink good kind of like (what) envisioned when I had my dinners at home on Sundays with my friends."


Pumphouse chef is pumped to share his recipe for Korean fried chicken

Fried chicken is more than just comfort food for chef Mark Merano. The deep-fried, finger lickin&rsquo delicacy has become a way to stay connected with friends and a source of culinary inspiration during the pandemic.

Fried chicken is more than just comfort food for chef Mark Merano. The deep-fried, finger lickin&rsquo delicacy has become a way to stay connected with friends and a source of culinary inspiration during the pandemic.

Merano, 30, is the executive chef at James Avenue Pumphouse, a new restaurant opening this summer inside the revamped former pumping station at 109 James Ave. in the east Exchange District. After years of sous-cheffing, this will be his first opportunity to lead a kitchen and create a menu that&rsquos entirely his own &mdash high on the list is his recipe for Korean fried chicken.

"When I first made it, right away I jumped for joy," he says. "Then my fiancée had it and now it&rsquos one of those things where. she doesn&rsquot want to have any other fried chicken than mine."

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

James Avenue Pumphouse executive chef Mark Merano with his Korean fried chicken, a delicacy that helps him stay connected with friends.

Merano&rsquos version starts with marinated chicken thighs battered in potato starch &mdash the best breading, in his opinion &mdash and double fried for extra crunch. The crispy nuggets are then tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce made from gochujang, a fermented Korean red chili paste that provides a hit of umami.

The dish has also gotten rave reviews from buddies. Merano has been testing recipes non-stop during lockdown and dropping takeout containers on doorsteps to share his experiments with friends.

"Some were saying, &lsquoHey, can you sell this? I&rsquod buy it every week, every day even," he says. "Everyone enjoyed it and I like making food that makes everyone happy."

Food has been central to some of his closest and longest friendships.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Merano&rsquos fiancée doesn't want any other type of fried chicken.

Merano doesn&rsquot come from a particularly foodie family and he wasn&rsquot following his passion when he applied at Moxie&rsquos Bar and Grill when he was 18 years old. He was just looking for a job.

"I started off as a dishwasher&hellip and then I kind of moved up the ladder and started cooking here and there," he says. "After a couple of years I thought to myself, &lsquoHey, what am I doing? Let&rsquos kick it up a notch.&rsquo So, I got more in-depth with learning how to cook and I would say my whole time with Moxie&rsquos was kind of my school."

He&rsquos spent more than a decade working for the company at nearly every location in the city &mdash he even relocated to Fort McMurray for a few years to work at a Moxie&rsquos restaurant there, returning when the pandemic hit.

"It was a complete change from being in Winnipeg, it was a smaller town&hellip everyone there was just there to work, so you kind of just work, go home, work, go home," he says. "Me and my fiancée learned to enjoy what we had and it made us appreciate coming back."

Over time, Merano developed a genuine love of food and cooking. He started entering in-house cooking contests and developing his own style outside of work hours. The Food Network was on at home 24-7 and, pre-pandemic, he hosted weekly Sunday dinners for a group of friends from his junior high days. The event was dubbed "Merano&rsquos Bistro."

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

"Everyone enjoyed it and I like making food that makes everyone happy," Merano says.

"I would cook food for a few of my closest friends while having beers and socializing and they would even get their hands dirty and help me out cooking is a very social thing for me," he says. "As we grow older and our lives get busier those (dinners) are one of the things we look forward to and work our schedules around."

These days, he&rsquos working full-time testing recipes for Pumphouse. Merano is excited, if not a little nervous, for the next chapter.

"I feel like it&rsquos good nervous. Throughout my career, any promotion I would get or any new experience I would hope for that nervousness because it helps you grow," he says. "The goal at Pumphouse is a place where you can gather with your friends and eat good, drink good kind of like (what) envisioned when I had my dinners at home on Sundays with my friends."


Pumphouse chef is pumped to share his recipe for Korean fried chicken

Fried chicken is more than just comfort food for chef Mark Merano. The deep-fried, finger lickin&rsquo delicacy has become a way to stay connected with friends and a source of culinary inspiration during the pandemic.

Fried chicken is more than just comfort food for chef Mark Merano. The deep-fried, finger lickin&rsquo delicacy has become a way to stay connected with friends and a source of culinary inspiration during the pandemic.

Merano, 30, is the executive chef at James Avenue Pumphouse, a new restaurant opening this summer inside the revamped former pumping station at 109 James Ave. in the east Exchange District. After years of sous-cheffing, this will be his first opportunity to lead a kitchen and create a menu that&rsquos entirely his own &mdash high on the list is his recipe for Korean fried chicken.

"When I first made it, right away I jumped for joy," he says. "Then my fiancée had it and now it&rsquos one of those things where. she doesn&rsquot want to have any other fried chicken than mine."

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

James Avenue Pumphouse executive chef Mark Merano with his Korean fried chicken, a delicacy that helps him stay connected with friends.

Merano&rsquos version starts with marinated chicken thighs battered in potato starch &mdash the best breading, in his opinion &mdash and double fried for extra crunch. The crispy nuggets are then tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce made from gochujang, a fermented Korean red chili paste that provides a hit of umami.

The dish has also gotten rave reviews from buddies. Merano has been testing recipes non-stop during lockdown and dropping takeout containers on doorsteps to share his experiments with friends.

"Some were saying, &lsquoHey, can you sell this? I&rsquod buy it every week, every day even," he says. "Everyone enjoyed it and I like making food that makes everyone happy."

Food has been central to some of his closest and longest friendships.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Merano&rsquos fiancée doesn't want any other type of fried chicken.

Merano doesn&rsquot come from a particularly foodie family and he wasn&rsquot following his passion when he applied at Moxie&rsquos Bar and Grill when he was 18 years old. He was just looking for a job.

"I started off as a dishwasher&hellip and then I kind of moved up the ladder and started cooking here and there," he says. "After a couple of years I thought to myself, &lsquoHey, what am I doing? Let&rsquos kick it up a notch.&rsquo So, I got more in-depth with learning how to cook and I would say my whole time with Moxie&rsquos was kind of my school."

He&rsquos spent more than a decade working for the company at nearly every location in the city &mdash he even relocated to Fort McMurray for a few years to work at a Moxie&rsquos restaurant there, returning when the pandemic hit.

"It was a complete change from being in Winnipeg, it was a smaller town&hellip everyone there was just there to work, so you kind of just work, go home, work, go home," he says. "Me and my fiancée learned to enjoy what we had and it made us appreciate coming back."

Over time, Merano developed a genuine love of food and cooking. He started entering in-house cooking contests and developing his own style outside of work hours. The Food Network was on at home 24-7 and, pre-pandemic, he hosted weekly Sunday dinners for a group of friends from his junior high days. The event was dubbed "Merano&rsquos Bistro."

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

"Everyone enjoyed it and I like making food that makes everyone happy," Merano says.

"I would cook food for a few of my closest friends while having beers and socializing and they would even get their hands dirty and help me out cooking is a very social thing for me," he says. "As we grow older and our lives get busier those (dinners) are one of the things we look forward to and work our schedules around."

These days, he&rsquos working full-time testing recipes for Pumphouse. Merano is excited, if not a little nervous, for the next chapter.

"I feel like it&rsquos good nervous. Throughout my career, any promotion I would get or any new experience I would hope for that nervousness because it helps you grow," he says. "The goal at Pumphouse is a place where you can gather with your friends and eat good, drink good kind of like (what) envisioned when I had my dinners at home on Sundays with my friends."


Pumphouse chef is pumped to share his recipe for Korean fried chicken

Fried chicken is more than just comfort food for chef Mark Merano. The deep-fried, finger lickin&rsquo delicacy has become a way to stay connected with friends and a source of culinary inspiration during the pandemic.

Fried chicken is more than just comfort food for chef Mark Merano. The deep-fried, finger lickin&rsquo delicacy has become a way to stay connected with friends and a source of culinary inspiration during the pandemic.

Merano, 30, is the executive chef at James Avenue Pumphouse, a new restaurant opening this summer inside the revamped former pumping station at 109 James Ave. in the east Exchange District. After years of sous-cheffing, this will be his first opportunity to lead a kitchen and create a menu that&rsquos entirely his own &mdash high on the list is his recipe for Korean fried chicken.

"When I first made it, right away I jumped for joy," he says. "Then my fiancée had it and now it&rsquos one of those things where. she doesn&rsquot want to have any other fried chicken than mine."

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

James Avenue Pumphouse executive chef Mark Merano with his Korean fried chicken, a delicacy that helps him stay connected with friends.

Merano&rsquos version starts with marinated chicken thighs battered in potato starch &mdash the best breading, in his opinion &mdash and double fried for extra crunch. The crispy nuggets are then tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce made from gochujang, a fermented Korean red chili paste that provides a hit of umami.

The dish has also gotten rave reviews from buddies. Merano has been testing recipes non-stop during lockdown and dropping takeout containers on doorsteps to share his experiments with friends.

"Some were saying, &lsquoHey, can you sell this? I&rsquod buy it every week, every day even," he says. "Everyone enjoyed it and I like making food that makes everyone happy."

Food has been central to some of his closest and longest friendships.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Merano&rsquos fiancée doesn't want any other type of fried chicken.

Merano doesn&rsquot come from a particularly foodie family and he wasn&rsquot following his passion when he applied at Moxie&rsquos Bar and Grill when he was 18 years old. He was just looking for a job.

"I started off as a dishwasher&hellip and then I kind of moved up the ladder and started cooking here and there," he says. "After a couple of years I thought to myself, &lsquoHey, what am I doing? Let&rsquos kick it up a notch.&rsquo So, I got more in-depth with learning how to cook and I would say my whole time with Moxie&rsquos was kind of my school."

He&rsquos spent more than a decade working for the company at nearly every location in the city &mdash he even relocated to Fort McMurray for a few years to work at a Moxie&rsquos restaurant there, returning when the pandemic hit.

"It was a complete change from being in Winnipeg, it was a smaller town&hellip everyone there was just there to work, so you kind of just work, go home, work, go home," he says. "Me and my fiancée learned to enjoy what we had and it made us appreciate coming back."

Over time, Merano developed a genuine love of food and cooking. He started entering in-house cooking contests and developing his own style outside of work hours. The Food Network was on at home 24-7 and, pre-pandemic, he hosted weekly Sunday dinners for a group of friends from his junior high days. The event was dubbed "Merano&rsquos Bistro."

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

"Everyone enjoyed it and I like making food that makes everyone happy," Merano says.

"I would cook food for a few of my closest friends while having beers and socializing and they would even get their hands dirty and help me out cooking is a very social thing for me," he says. "As we grow older and our lives get busier those (dinners) are one of the things we look forward to and work our schedules around."

These days, he&rsquos working full-time testing recipes for Pumphouse. Merano is excited, if not a little nervous, for the next chapter.

"I feel like it&rsquos good nervous. Throughout my career, any promotion I would get or any new experience I would hope for that nervousness because it helps you grow," he says. "The goal at Pumphouse is a place where you can gather with your friends and eat good, drink good kind of like (what) envisioned when I had my dinners at home on Sundays with my friends."


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