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Secret Dinner 2012: "Stunning!"

"Stunning" was the first word out of City Councillor Mike Pagtakhan's mouth as he and his wife Minas stood on the catwalk entrance and gazed at the dining venue.  At the bottom of the stairs, a server waited with a tray full of champagne and in the corner of the room, behind huge art installations, an 8 piece orchestra played Christmas music.

the Secret Dinner venue looks spectacular!

That was the scene that greeted the 36 wary R:ED adventurers that signed up for the R:ED Secret Dinner.  Starting off at the Fairmont lobby, the group headed out in a procession of taxis, with no idea where their dinner was to be held.

After a brief tour of the Exchange, designed to mislead some, and debunk the destination theories of others, the cabs stopped at a decrepit looking building on Higgins.

Confused residents were greeted at the door of The Graffiti Gallery by Pat Lazo and guided into the administrative offices.  The looks on the faces said it all: "what the heck are we doing here??"

Shaw TV coverage of R:ED Secret Dinner

But passing through the doorway to the two story high gallery, and looking down at the stunning sight, the concern turned to literal jaw dropping, and a steady chorus of "wow!"

Alejandro More, Carnaval GM: Top Secret plannerA cocktail reception complete with tasty hors d'oeuvres gave participants a chance to check out the amazing art which was an exhibition called "The Undesirables," by emerging Winnipeg artists.  I say "was," because unfortunately the exhibition has ended.

The creative genius behind the evening was Alejandro More, General Manager for the  Carnaval Brazilian BBQ restaurant opening in January 2013 on Waterfront Drive.

The group sat down to a beautiful five course dinner, served family style.  Conversation was lively, food was plenty and the venue was stunning.  And it was all helped along by wine pairings with each course, from De Luca Fine Wines.

John Giavedoni, R:ED Exec Director, checks out one of the "large scale sculptural portraits"We were not only having a good time, we were doing good.  A portion of the event price is to be donated to buying hampers and toys for the 7th annual Christmas Eve Feast.

It is a testament to our community in the Exchange District, that an event like this can sell out -- that people are willing to pay a significant price to have a dining adventure: they did not know where we were going to eat, what we were going to eat, and how were were getting there.  Congrats to those that took the leap of faith -- they were rewarded with a dining experience that they will boast about for a long time.

Check out the event pictures here (R:ED) or here (

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