Laurier grads opening ‘global cuisine’ restaurant in downtown Kitchener


Photo by Kha Vo
Photo by Kha Vo

Tapas is taking on a whole new meaning. That is what Gilt, a new restaurant opening in Kitchener, is trying to do. Co-owners Trella White and Stephanie Randell, who is also the executive chef, are both Cambridge natives who felt a pull towards opening a restaurant in the region.

“We had a restaurant in Elora that has been open for four years and been successful there,” said White. “We love the industry and both grew up in Cambridge and went to Laurier, and just love the Kitchener-Waterloo area.”
White opened Cork, her restaurant in Elora, while in her third year of university.

“When I opened Cork four years ago … I ran it in the summers and Stephanie ran it in the winter. Stephanie and I were roommates through university at Laurier, and when we graduated we realized this was where we have passion.”

Randell echoed White’s sentiments about her love for food.

“I originally joined in at the kitchen to do some administrative work and things just feel into place. I really love cooking; I have a passion for it. Things kind of took off and now I am executive chef,” said Randell.

Describing the cuisine, both White and Randell said the food is globally inspired, done in a tapas style. Though they reject the term tapas being applied to their menu.

“We are going for sharing plates. We try and avoid the term tapas; it is tapas but we are not doing all Spanish, but global cuisine. We are aiming for it to be really social eating in a social atmosphere,” said White.

Randell continued, “We really want to do something different, not something everyone else is doing. By doing shareable plates, it allows for people to try a bunch of different things without the commitment.”

Keeping with the theme of trying new things, the menu will also be constantly changing to the feedback of customers.

“We will have things that stay on the menu if people respond well to them. We are going to try and change menu items every few weeks to keep things going,” said Randell.

“It’s the same motto we have at Cork: if something doesn’t work, it’s gone. We are not trying to replace it or put something else in there,” said White.

White and Randell are also excited about the atmosphere of the new restaurant.

“The atmosphere is something I don’t think is matched at all in the area. We are going for a very warm feeling that is still modern and contemporary. You can expect for us to remember your name. We are very personalized with how we do service,” said White.

“The kitchen is open-style; so there is a cutout window meaning you can see in on what we are cooking. You will basically be seeing what we are preparing, much like a show. It’s a bit entertaining,” said Randell.

With the restaurant’s opening happening in the next month, the two are confident things are on track.

“We are lucky that we have the best contractor in the world and an amazing team behind us. It’s our busiest season at Cork, the four months of the summer. Our goal was mid-August, so we are optimistic to say mid-September. We haven’t had any huge bumps in the road,” said White.

The two are excited to return to K-W after their time away since graduation.

“We are excited to be back, we loved Waterloo when we went to Laurier. We are excited to make a change, saying we are offering something different then what people aren’t already offering,” said White.

“We want people to be excited about us being open.”

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