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Guess who's coming to dinner?

Attention all viewers of the Food Network, Massimo Capra is coming to Carlyle.
Michael Ellis, owner of 8 words café, enjoys the sunshine beside the building.

Attention all viewers of the Food Network, Massimo Capra is coming to Carlyle. The Italian Chef has gained quite a following in recent years through the publication of his book "One Pot Italian Cooking", his appearances on TV's "Restaurant Makeover" and his regular columns in the Globe and Mail. While the exact date has yet to be announced, it is known that he'll be here this fall to visit 8 Words Cafe, and to spend time with the Cafe's owner, Michael Ellis.

Ellis, for a short time Mayor of Arcola, and a former church minister, is thrilled with this situation; after all, it's not every day a world-famous master chef comes to a small, relatively-new business on the prairie. In culinary terms, it's almost like winning the lottery.

It all started when Ellis made the decision to follow many top restaurants across the country, by using Campbell's Soup as part of his menu. As a business customer of the brand, he was entered into a national draw along with literally hundreds of other restaurant owners, to be eligible for a prize package worth over $15,000. To his absolute astonishment, 8 Words Cafe was the winning entry, and that astonishment, along with excitement, grew when Ellis considered the prize.

"Massimo Capra is going to make a personal visit, and he's going to prepare a four-course meal for eight people at the cafe." Ellis explained. And who will these lucky people be? "Recently, when I was away on vacation, the staff just worked like troopers" Ellis says, and that's why he and his wife will be joined at the meal by his managers and some key staff members, as a way of honouring their wonderful contribution to the success of the business.

But it does not stop there. "Capra will also be reviewing our menu" Ellis said, "And we will get to experience his personality and skill in food preparation. I am looking forward to having his ear, we don't yet have a large menu, and we'll be able to find out how to take it to the next level." And what might that be? "We're thinking about expanding what we do for breakfast" Ellis said with a smile, knowing that whatever ideas and insights he gains from Capra, not just for breakfast, will benefit the loyal customers of the cafe.

And certainly those customers are already benefitting from recent additions to the offerings at 8 Words. It's not too long ago that Pizza became a new feature, not only for sit-in customers, but also on a take-out basis. It's freshly made on the premises, and has already proved to be popular. The friendly atmosphere of the cafe has also been subtly modified, with a new couch and easy chairs being placed beside a coffee table at the front of the establishment. The bistro-style coffee shop is an attraction for all ages, from young people texting away on their smart phones, right through to seniors sharing a quiet moment with friends.

While not confirmed yet with Campbell's, Ellis is hoping a public event with Capra might also be possible. "I'm hoping we'll get a book signing" he shared, as he was trying to contact the Campbell's Rep for confirmation. "Imagine this happening in Carlyle!" Ellis beams, "Not Vancouver or Toronto, or another big city... Carlyle!" No matter what may or may not transpire in the event, the very fact that such a world-renowned chef as Capra is coming to Carlyle, is sure to cause a stir as the word gets out.

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