I’m not going to lie. I like Nate Box. I have to think he won me over from the first minute we met. And while I’m sure it could be narrowed down to specific things, like say his passion for food or his love Edmonton, I think you could just as easily throw in his boyish smile and infectious laugh. No matter how you wring it out, Nate is good peeps.
Finally opening Elm Café last year was the part of a very long journey. One that started before I met Nate, and from the sound of things, after spending a few years away from the lime light of our emerging food scene. The timing of his plunge back in couldn’t have been better with recent accolades (Best Coffee Shop 2011 – 2nd place, Best Takeout 2011 – 1st place, Best Sandwiches / Wraps 2011 – 1st place) and praise for many sandwiches (Chicken & Waffle Sandwich anyone!) already starting to find space on the shelf. I can’t for the life of me, come up with a reason you shouldn’t stop by. As the city’s only purveyor of 49th Parallel coffee, with a menu that makes long decisions a thing of the past, you might just find yourself so wrapped up in the simplicity of it all that you don’t even know why it’s so good. But I can tell you, it’s the food, the drink, the man, and his team. If you’ve never been to Elm, and that would be surprising at this point, do yourself a favour and go enjoy the 200 square feet of glorious boutique food space.
Nate Box (nathan if you were to ask my mother)
Elm Café, owner
How would you classify your cooking style?
Sammiches, for the most. contemporary North American, for the rest.
Who taught you how to cook?
Not entirely sure. encouraged by those before me. challenged by those beside me. pushed by those who can’t.
What are 5 kitchen ingredients/tools you can’t live without?
knife – french/chef, 10″.
spatula – the flexible metal ones.
fresh herbs – basil and sage and chart toppers.
pork – properly raised
music and speakers
When did you realize that food was your passion? And do you have any passions outside of food?
Passion – 2002. Career move – 2007
What is your biggest culinary guilty pleasure, something the foodies might frown upon?
golden grahams. twix. pbr. egg mcmuffin.
When feeling under the weather, what comfort food do you create?
Tea and brothy soups. boring, but i interpret “under the weather” as too sick to work or do anything, which means i lay on the couch and try not to exert myself.
Besides your own kitchen, where would you mostly like be sitting for a meal in Edmonton?
Homes of friends and family, culina, mrkt.
Is there anywhere you would like to live and work for additional culinary influence?
Portland, Chicago, New York.
Are there any food trends on the horizon that you would like to work with?
smoke and bbq. food science nerd stuff. offal.
Finally, is there anything you want your customers & clients to know, that they may never hear?
I love Edmonton
Favourite Bread for French Toast?
brioche. density, moisture, sweetness, and it browns like nothing else.
Lambretta or Vespa?
Favourite area in the city to walk?
victoria promenade. close to the shop and home. great view of one of this city’s best assets.
Most ordered drink at Elm?
Regular latte or brew single origin
Favourite band from your youth?
younger years = boyz ii men
mid years = counting crows
rebellious years = nofx
high school = daft punk, postal service, phoenix, dashboard confessional
Best Christmas song?
“we’re going to the country” or “once in royal david’s city” – Sufjan Stevens
Best vacation you ever had?
NYC – 2007