Katie Vinge-Riddell was the beloved owner and chef of The Happy Nun Cafe in Forget.
Sadly, on March 28th she was in a tragic car accident that claimed her life.
Now, in the loving spirit of Katie, her family created the Katie Vinge-Riddell “Nailed It” Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship will create opportunities for young chefs studying at Edmonton's NAIT culinary school, where Katie trained and graduated.
"Nailed It comes from when Katie was cooking and things turned out really good, which was most of the time, she always said 'nailed it Mom', cause her mom worked very closely with her," said Tim Vinge, father of Katie Vinge-Riddell.
What the family wants to do with this scholarship is to create opportunities for young chefs to follow their dreams and further their education like Katie did.
"This was part of her vision and her passion," added Vinge. "What we set of with NAIT is a memorial scholarship for her and it's to be given to a second year culinary art student that shows compassion for others, creativity, teamwork and passion. Those are the main attributes of the award."
The family will be holding a benefit dinner this Saturday at The Happy Nun Cafe to honour Katie and to raise funds for the memorial scholarship. The evening will commence at 6:30 p.m.
Chef Tim Davies of Regina's The Willow on Wascana, who Katie apprenticed with, has volunteered to be chef for the evening, in honour of Katie. The cash bar will feature suggested wine pairings for each course by Katie's sister, sommelier Jillian Vinge, while Wool Tree Grove will provide the event's musical entertainment. They will also have a silent auction.
Katie purchased The Happy Nun Cafe with her husband Riley Riddell at the beginning of 2015. She had been working as a chef at The Willow on Wascana in Regina when she heard that The Happy Nun was for sale. She had to write a multi-page piece on why she wanted to buy the restaurant and what her vision was. The current owners thought that she would be an excellent owner, so they accepted her offer and Katie became the new owner of the restaurant.
She brought a different spin to The Happy Nun by serving three and four course meals to the community. Katie also began bringing in new musical talent from all over Canada and the United States.
Her hard work and professionalism brought in many awards and recognition for her restaurant, including two awards from Trip Advisor for Top Canadian Cuisine and Live Entertainment, as well as for Top Family-Friendly Dining. U.K.'s BBC Online recently did a feature on The Happy Nun and spent three days with Katie to get to know why her restaurant was known around the world.
She was also showcased by TV's The Prairie Diner, CTV's Small-Town Saskatchewan Summer Tour, The Saskatchewanderer, and the SaskScapes podcast with Saskatoon radio personality, Kevin Power. Katie also addressed the Community Futures and Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan as a keynote speaker.
Katie always loved to help others out, whether it be people or animals in need.
"She did charity functions for dog rescues in Regina, she did charities for school teams and some for special needs people to attend sporting events. So she was always having fundraisers at the restaurant and always contributing to other peoples charities as well," said Vinge.
People came from all over to experience Katie's rendition of The Happy Nun Cafe. The location became a real family restaurant with the help of Katie's family members.
"This was probably a family business for us," said Vinge. "I was washing dishes, Jillian our other daughter was serving and my wife Connie was in the kitchen helping her prep. So it became a focal point for our family, but it was also a focal point in the southeast for a lot of people for entertainment."
This Saturday evening, when they have the memorial dinner, there will be one of the brightest meteor showers in human history and it is expected to light up the whole sky. Her mother said that this is fitting as Katie was a shining star that lit up many people's lives.
Tickets for the Katie-Vinge Riddell “Nailed It” Memorial Scholarship Benefit at Forget's Happy Nun Cafe at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 12 are $75 per person. To reserve tickets, please contact Jillian Vinge at (306)-580-3700 or Connie Vinge at (780)-251-0800. Payment is by cash or cheque, with cheques made out to Jillian Vinge. Payment for tickets can also be made by e-transfer to [email protected]
For anyone who cannot attend the event, donations to Katie's scholarship fund can be made online at: alumni.nait.ca/katievinge