August 2nd, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 31
Antigua closes, Jason the Pie Man opens
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Anna Kroupina photo
Pass Herald Reporter
July 27 was the last day that Antigua Restaurant in Blairmore was open, and it was all about the Brussels sprouts.

Gabriela and Alex Islas have been running the Mexican-fusion restaurant since 2014 and their simple yet savoury Brussels sprouts appetizer turned even the most reluctant sprout eaters into dedicated sprout fans.

“We opened at 5 p.m. and since 3:30 we were having phone calls for Brussels sprouts to go,” says Gabriela of Antigua’s last day. “We have tons of stories of people who hate Brussels sprouts, but they loved this dish after their friends told them to try it.”

The couple is closing Antigua to focus on Frida in Fernie, the restaurant they opened in July 2016. Operating both establishments was getting too hectic for the Islas.

“It was just too much. I don’t know what we were thinking,” says Gabriela. “It was super busy in Fernie. We couldn’t keep up. My husband was super stressed, he was gaining weight, so we just decided it was too much,” says Gabriela.

Originally from Mexico, the couple moved to Crowsnest Pass in 2014 and for a year, operated the Blackbird Coffee House out the old Holy Ghost Roman Catholic Church in Coleman, the first restaurant that the couple owned and operated. Once that lease was up, they opened Antigua in the Kanata Inn building in Blairmore.
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“I thought I would be sad, but I’m just excited,” says Gabriela, who now has time to spend the rest of summer with her two kids. “I’m going to miss my customers. That was the best part. Most of our loyal customers throughout the last four years that have been following us since the Blackbird were here and it was really nice. I have mixed feelings. I won’t miss the pressure of the business, but I will miss the customers.”

Although it was a bittersweet goodbye to Antigua restaurant, loyal customers can still enjoy Alex’s cuisine a short 45 minutes away in Fernie at Frida.

British fare

Often considered the underdog in cuisine, the classic, hearty and savoury flavours of British fare often don’t get the recognition that they deserve, and that’s exactly the attitude that Jason the Pie Man hopes to change.

Pies of all sorts are Jason Pearce’s claim to fame, earning him the moniker “Jason the Pie Man”, also the name of his restaurant that’s set to open in Blairmore. With the recent closing of Antigua Restaurant in the Kanata Inn, Jason the Pie Man will take over this locale as of August 1.

Pearce was taught as a Chinese chef and for a good part of 20 years, has travelled the world working as a chef in Greece, Spain, Sweden and, most recently, Thailand for six years.
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He’s taken bits and pieces of technique and recipes from everywhere he’s worked, applying it to his own cooking. Through his travels and hands-on experience, he is self-taught in the art of cooking.

“I love food. There is nothing that I’ve yet to taste that I haven’t liked,” says Pearce, who’s had his fair share of exotic food tasting especially in Thailand, where he has tried snake, crocodile, insects.

But don’t worry. None of that’s on the menu for Jason the Pie Man. The menu will consist of all the trimmings of classic and favourite British comfort food.

“I’ve learned that Canadians like their meat and potatoes, and that’s very British, but it will be a menu that you won’t see anywhere else,” he says.

Pearce will serve classic British fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You’ll have your pick of homemade sausages and cured bacon that he prepares himself, black pudding, white pudding, British fish and chips, steak and kidney, Cornish pasties, baked beans, and a host of other dishes, all made fresh by hand.

And of course as the establishment’s name suggests, pies!

The Devon, England native has been “Jason the Pie Man” for 20 years in six different countries. Meat pies are Pearce’s specialty and he’s known for them in different parts of the world.
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Pearce is also in the process of acquiring a liquor license to sell beer and cider.

Jason the Pie Man will sell packed lunches for workers or anyone in need of a quick takeout lunch that can be ordered the night before and will be ready for pick-up the next morning.

The restaurant will also have a little shop area with frozen pies and vacuum-sealed sausages to purchase to-go.

Pearce moved to Alberta approximately five years ago and spent two years working as a chef at the oil rigs up north in Christina Lake.

“I thought I would go up there for two years to find out what kind of food Canadians liked to eat and then introduce them to some British stuff,” he says. “My plan was always to settle down in my early 40s, put together everything I’ve learned from my travels and open a business.”

The decision to settle down in the Pass came after three years of coming down to play golf and falling in love with the area. He moved to Blairmore with a good friend of his, 74-year-old Eileen Sawazky who will be helping run the restaurant.

A soft opening is tentatively scheduled for August 5 and the grand opening of Jason the Pie Man will take place on August 12.

The restaurant and bar will be open seven days a week from 6 a.m. until 2 a.m. Following the popular model at his restaurant in Thailand, each night will be themed, with Sundays being “all-you-can-eat fish & chips”, a Monday Madness all-you-can-eat buffet, Chinese Tuesdays for all-you-can-eat Chinese, Wings and Wonton Wednesdays, Thursday trivia, live music for Fridays and Ribs and Springs Rolls on Saturdays.

Televisions will be installed for sporting events, coupled with a $10 pie and a pint promotion.
August 2nd, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 31
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