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Small Town, Big Flavours: Cochrane’s Aama Makes Avenue Magazine’s Best New Restaurants List

Chef G's culinary achievements are rooted in the strong support from the Cochrane community, underscoring the restaurant's success as a collaborative effort fueled by local love and dedication

Calgary is known for its diverse cuisine selection, but the bustling city has some competition!

Next door, Cochrane is bringing the heat.

Restaurants like Aama Nepalese Cuisine are helping the town build its reputation as a hotspot for foodies. 

The restaurant recently earned a spot on Avenue Magazine’s Best New Restaurants for 2024, a list of eight of Calgary’s most noteworthy restaurants. 

Small Town, Big Recognition

Gyanendra Sharma (Chef G) with his wife Tara Poudel (right) | Aama Nepalese Cuisine | Facebook
Gyanendra Sharma (Chef G) with his wife Tara Poudel (right) | Aama Nepalese Cuisine | Facebook

All the competing restaurants were at the mercy of five judges and their discerning taste buds. 

The judges for this year were Karen Ashbee, Elizabeth Chorney-Booth, Gabriel Hall, Patricia Lau, and Liz Middleton. 

Avenue Magazine’s Best New Restaurants list usually focuses on Calgary-based restaurants, but Aama’s food was too good not to list. 

Chef and Owner Gyanendra Sharma, better known as ‘Chef G,’ and his wife, Tara Poudel, were shocked to receive the prestigious recognition. 

“I think this is great to showcase ourselves!” Chef G told the Cochrane Eagle

“We can show that Cochrane does have something to offer for people who are looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.”

Chef G and his wife accepted their award, a plaque with their restaurant’s name on it, at the Best Restaurants award ceremony earlier this month.

Congratulations! 

A photo at the Best Restaurants award ceremony at the SAIT Hospitality House in Calgary  Chris Landry  Avenue Magazine
A photo at the Best Restaurants award ceremony at the SAIT Hospitality House in Calgary | Chris Landry | Avenue Magazine

A Taste Of Home

Chef G grew up in Nepal, but his passion for cooking took him on a culinary journey around the world!

 After settling with his family in Calgary, he noticed a lack of Nepalese food.

To help bridge this gap, Chef G travelled back to Nepal to research and learn more about his roots. He then returned to Calgary with a curated menu of authentic Nepalese flavours.

Unsurprisingly, the taste of his homeland fits right in in the Rockies

Chef G and his wife grew up surrounded by the beautiful mountains of Nepal. 

With a view similar to the Himalayan mountains, opening Aama in scenic Cochrane was a no-brainer for the couple. 

“That plays a big role for us because that, together with the food we put on our menu, it kind of resembles exactly being back home,” explained Chef G.

Aama is also a tribute to Chef G’s late mother, where “Aama” means mother in Nepali. 

One of the restaurant’s defining features is its commitment to fresh, locally sourced ingredients. 

Chef G frequents farmers’ markets for the best flavours. 

“I support a lot of local farmers,” said Chef G.

Chef G defines the Nepalese food at his restaurant as healthy, hearty, and wholesome. Aama’s warm and cozy ambiance takes the restaurant’s dishes to another level.

The Khumbu Valley in Solukhumbu, Nepal. There are 120 named mountains in Solukhumbu, including Mount Everest  PeakVisor
The Khumbu Valley in Solukhumbu, Nepal. There are 120 named mountains in Solukhumbu, including Mount Everest | PeakVisor

A Trip For Your Tastebuds

Aama Nepalese Cuisine
Aama Nepalese Cuisine

A meal at Aama will transport you to the Himalayas. 

The restaurant’s house specialty is yak, which Chef G sources from a farm near Rimbey, located north of Calgary.

In case you don’t know, yak, also known as the ‘grunting ox’, or ‘hairy cattle’, is a species of long-haired domesticated cattle found throughout the Himalayan region. 

Yak is heart-healthy meat that is lean and high in Omega 3s, and the number of yak farms is growing in Alberta.

“So, I do yak, which is kind of our signature meat in the restaurant, and I do a lot of products and cuisine from yak,” said Chef G

The restaurant’s yak-based dishes blew the Best New Restaurant judges away. 

Yacking About The Yak

Chef G and his talented chefs prepare yak in many ways.

“Like the Shyakpa, which is a stew, we have dumplings, yak short ribs, tenderloin, on and off I do provide experiences to people with yak tomahawk, and even yak ribeye,” said Chef G.

Chef G with his wife and two kids  Aama Nepalese Restaurant
Chef G with his wife and two kids | Aama Nepalese Restaurant

Yak is central to Nepalese culture and has been eaten across Eastern Asia, specifically the Himalayan mountains, for thousands of years

Yak tastes comparable to bison meat but is juicer, sweeter, and more delicate in flavour—however, a secret ingredient secured Aama’s spot as one of Calgary’s best restaurants: community.

Chef G has over 17 years of experience in the kitchen, but he couldn’t have reached new heights without the support of Cochranites.

“I would really want to thank all the community members that came out to support us since day one,” expressed Chef G.

Chef G had nothing but kind words to share about his friends, staff, and family, who helped him develop recipes and support his vision. 

“And again, my wife. She has been supportive every day for us…we work very well together,” said Chef G.

Cochrane is a stone’s throw away from Calgary. So what are you waiting for? Aama’s is one of many delicious restaurants waiting for you.

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