Nobody has a laugh quite like Richard Nigro. It’s higher-pitched, louder and more jovial than you’d expect, and it erupts from him during conversation without warning like a splash of hot sauce on scrambled eggs.
It’s nice to see Nigro looking so cheerful after our last meeting, which had a more serious tenor, coming on the heels of a seemingly abrupt ending to his 17-year tenure as head chef at Juniper Kitchen & Wine Bar.
This week he’s fired up to share the news that renovations have begun on the retail space on Wellington St. that was last Emerald Pastry & Food Shop, where Nigro is preparing to open Richard’s Hintonburg Kitchen in the New Year.
He describes the concept for his shop along the same lines as popular catering and take-out operations like Epicuria, The Red Apron, and Thyme & Again, with an emphasis on offering heat-and-eat meals for time-starved customers who appreciate restaurant-quality food. He hopes to differentiate himself by offering an innovative, eclectic, and internationally inspired menu. “And because I’m in the kitchen,” he says with a grin, “the food will be flavourful.”