During the Calgary Stampede, small and large businesses around the city offer free pancake breakfasts. This year, Mum and I decided to try it out, and just by chance, the first one we went to was the best Stampede pancake breakfast! I know, I know. It looks like I’m jumping the gun, but read on to find out why!
When I was researching pancake breakfasts, I came across a list of 12 bucket list pancake breakfasts. Yes, it’s a legitimate list. I learned early on that if you want good food sources for the Stampede, Daily Hive and Dished Calgary are the sites to go. The one that caught my eye was the green tea pancakes at OMO Teppan and Kitchen, which was happening on Day Two of the Stampede.
An FYI about the Stampede Pancake Breakfasts:
On Day One of the Stampede, we tried to go to a different free pancake breakfast, and even though we arrived on time, there was a LONG line! Lesson learned: On-time is the new late when it comes to Stampede pancake breakfasts. Although, I wouldn’t tell that to the Dutch, lol.
It didn’t matter though. We enjoyed the last of the Stampede Parade, and we went to a park. The Calgary Parks Challenge has been alive and well during Stampede time! Just like last year, I have been taking advantage of the discounted day passes on Calgary Transit to go see some more parks!
Why This Breakfast Was The Best:
The list of 12 bucket list pancake breakfasts said that there was going to be music, prizes and entertainment at OMO’s breakfast, but they didn’t say specifically why it was awesome. It’s great in this day of social media, discretion is still valued.
At the end of the line for the breakfast (which lasted about half an hour since Mum and I got there on time), you drew a prize out of a basket. I won a free California Roll! How ironic that I had moved from there. Lol. I didn’t draw the option to catch a pancake and spin the wheel for a prize, but it was cool watching that happen. The chefs at OMO were having so much fun throwing pancakes for people to catch! I know as a chef, it’s not often you get to play with food like that.
Waiting in line wasn’t too bad either because there was a live band playing country music. While waiting in line, I noticed some Indigenous people in traditional dress. It was clear they were VIPs for the event.
Right when we got our breakfasts and sat down, the announcer said there would be a special performance…
The Moment You Have Been Waiting For:
It turned out the Indigenous man with the traditional headdress was the Chief of the Siksika Nation, which is part of the Blackfoot Confederacy. He expressed his gratitude for OMO and said how much he loves their Alberta beef. Additionally, he talked about the history of the Blackfoot in relation to the Calgary Stampede. He said the Stampede has been a great thing for his people in preserving their culture. The Blackfoot Nations do performances and sell their wares at the Elbow River Camp during the Stampede. After hearing so much about how Indigenous cultures have been destroyed by colonization, it was quite surprising to hear about something colonizers did that has actually ensured the survival of an Indigenous nation.
Then, the Chief introduced three dancers to us. The first dancer performed the Women’s Dance. The Chief explained her costume before he picked up his drum to play the music. It’s not too obvious in the video, but the woman is holding a fan of eagle feathers.
Dance number two was the men’s dance.
Finally, the third dance was a hoop dance. Traditionally, warriors danced it to learn flexibility for hunting and fighting.
I only did short videos of each dance because I wanted to film a bit of it, but then watch it without the distraction of the camera. Therefore, the video I have of the hoop dance doesn’t do it justice. You can see these videos on my Instagram too.
A Note About the Food:
I didn’t take a photo of the food because the dancing started so soon. I just forgot about it. However, I do remember what I had. The green tea pancakes came with a scoop of corn, a piece of meat and two cookies: one with peanuts and one with sesame seeds. The server did ask us if we had any allergies before she gave them to us. We also had little sachets of butter and maple syrup to go with the pancakes.
I thought the green tea pancakes would have a matcha flavour, but they didn’t. Since trying green tea pancakes, I now make them for breakfast every weekend! I could tell the other breakfast items used quality ingredients too, and they were quite filling.
Anyway, back to the performances!
Between the second and third dance, I saw a Swainson’s hawk soaring nearby. I looked up briefly during the hoop dance and noticed the hawk was hovering right over us and flapping its wings a bit. The hawk hung around afterwards and I tried to get a photo, but no go.
I don’t think I will find a Calgary Stampede Pancake Breakfast that will top this! Now, do you see why I say this is the best Pancake Breakfast?
I was reeling from seeing the performance for about a day. I was so absorbed in seeing those dances up close that for a time, I forgot we were right next to a main road. The music made me feel like I was on the prairies with the mountains nearby. The hawk sighting was the icing on the cake! I had seen the hoop dance before, but it was on a stage at a festival. I never thought I would ever see a performance like this! My descriptions aren’t enough. Go see one up close for yourself!
Additionally, I was pleased to see this restaurant doing its part for Truth and Reconciliation, and it’s made its pancake breakfast one of the best in Calgary!
On A Personal Note:
Those of you who have followed me for a long time know that I trained to be a ballet dancer for 14 years, but I left before I turned professional. It took me a long time to heal from the physical and emotional damage that was done from the training. I didn’t just give up on ballet either. There was a whole culture and language I had grown to love from ballet and I wanted nothing to do with it. I refused to watch any kind of dancing, much less ballet for many years. Once I let myself watch dancing again and appreciate quality art from any culture, I realized there was a lot of healing in it.
When I heard what the Siksika chief said about their people’s dances being a way to preserve and connect with their culture, I related to that on a personal level. Every culture has its own ways of dancing and physical forms of art. Plus, dancing at your peak invokes a spiritual state and that helps the dancer become one with nature. No wonder the Swainson’s hawk flew over us when the dancers were performing!
Apparently, around 800 people showed up to the pancake breakfast last year. This year there were over 1000 attendants!
Is this a pancake breakfast you would enjoy? Let’s chat in the comments!