Shining the spotlight on individuals who shaped the foodservice landscape
Nat Bailey: Founded White Spot Restaurants in 1928 and opened Canada’s first drive-in at Granville & 67th in Vancouver the same year.
Gary Ceppetelli: Gary Ceppetelli was the visionary and leader of Prime Restaurants – a unique partnership of inspiring brands such as Casey’s Roadhouse, Pat and Mario’s, East Side Mario’s, The Irish Pubs and The Bier Markt – as well as Yesac Creative Foods Inc. Ceppetelli remains one of the premier concept/brand builders in Canadas’s dynamic foodservice-and-hospitality industry and one of the founding fathers of casual dining in Canada.
George Cohon: Opened the first McDonald’s in eastern Canada in 1967 and founded McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada. He also launched Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada and expanded McDonald’s to Russia.
Bus Fuller: The legendary restaurateur founded the Earls and Joey Restaurants chains in Western Canada.
Paul Hollands: Joined A&W Food Services in 1980 and worked his way up to Chairman of A&W Food Services of Canada Inc. in August 2015.
Bernard Imbeault: Founded Imvescor Restaurant Group in 1968, where he served as president and CEO.
Ron Joyce: Co-founded the Tim Hortons chain as Tim Horton’s partner and first franchisee in 1964.
Mike Overs: Founded Pizza Pizza in 1967 in Toronto. He acquired Alberta-based Pizza 73 in 2006. Overs passed away in 2010 at the age of 70.
Nick Perpick: – Nick Perpick has been an important part of the Foodservice landscape since co-founding the first Casey’s Grill • Bar in 1980 in Sudbury, Ont. For many years, he was the president and COO of Prime Restaurants — which included the hugely successful East Side Mario’s, Bier Markt and Prime Pubs chains.
Phelan Family: Cara Operations was owned solely by the Phelan family from its inception in 1883 until it went public in 1968. In 2004, the family took back control of the company and in 2013, Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. bought a stake in Cara. In 2015, Cara Operations once again went public.
Grey Sisson: Served as president of SIR Corp. and co- founded Mother’s Restaurants in 1971.
George Tidball: Not only was Tidball responsible for founding Keg Restaurants, but he also brought McDonald’s Restaurants to Western Canada.
Jay Gould: Founded Cultures in 1975, New York Fries (NYF) in 1984 and South Street Burger in 2005 with his brother Hal. Gould led each of the chains prior to their acquisitions by other companies, with NYF now owned by Recipe Unlimited (2015) and MTY Food Group Inc. owning both Cultures and South Street Burger (2019). Both NYF and South Street Burger experienced international growth under Gould’s leadership.
Franco Prevedello: Prevedello has had a hand in more than 25 high-end restaurants over the years — including Centro, Note Bene and Carbon Bar — earning him a reputation as the godfather of Toronto fine dining.
J. Charles Grieco: A Canadian culinary icon, Grieco opened the hugely influential Toronto restaurant, La Scala, in 1962 with his father John. Since 1977, he has been both the Chair and president of the Ontario Hostelry Institute and is managing director of the Canadian Hospitality Foundation.
Umberto Menghi: After training in London and Paris, Menghi moved to Vancouver in 1969, where he is credited with starting a restaurant revolution with his fresh, authoritative food. He now owns three popular restaurants in Vancouver and Whistler — Il Giardino and Trattoria di Umberto — has authored five best-selling cookbooks and hosted The Elegant Appetite cooking show.
Hazel Mah: The co-founder of Le Piment Rouge and Piment 2 in Montreal, Mah is known for her practice of bringing in chefs from China to apprentice in her kitchen and sponsoring them if they decide to stay in Canada. Her other restaurant ventures include Diablo Rojo and Mahjongg.
Nick Di Donato: For more than two decades, the Liberty Entertainment Group, led by Di Donato has been redefining Toronto’s nightlife experience. As creators of numerous landmark establishments — including the Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex, Rosewater, Spice Route and Cibo Wine Bar — the Liberty Entertainment Group has become recognized as one of the most successful and innovative companies in this industry
Peter Oliver & Michael Bonacini: In 1993, the pair founded Oliver & Bonacini Hospitality, which is now recognized as one of Canada’s leading restaurant and event groups. With locations in Toronto, Montreal, Saskatoon, the company’s diverse portfolio currently includes a collection of unique and innovative restaurants, event spaces, a bakery and several strategic partnerships.
Sinclair & Frédérique Philip: It’s been more than 30 years since the Philips opened the Sooke Harbour House in the Sooke, B.C. Since that time, their inn and restaurant has earned an international reputation as a must-visit destination for food lovers and for its role in pioneering and championing the sustainable use of local, regional B.C. cuisine.
Jack Evrensal: The founder of the Toptable Group of Restaurants, Evrensel is known for his true sense of hospitality, attention to detail and love of food and wine. He is a founding board member of the Chefs’ Table Society and The Podium Club, as well as a member of the James Beard Culinary Foundation. He was also the first Honorary Chair of Taste of the Nation.
Charles Khabouth: Khabouth owns/manages 16 restaurants, bars and clubs in Toronto, including Figo, Batch, Macho Radio Bar and a Dubai outpost of Weslodge. His newest project Bisha — a 44-storey hotel and condo building in the Entertainment District — opened last year and the first Canadian outpost of Akira Back restaurant.
Doug Stephen: Stephen is president of WOW! Hospitality Concepts Inc., which has five restaurant concepts and three dinner theatres under its umbrella. Stephen is a 25-year veteran of the restaurant industry and is known for his willingness to mentor chefs and restauranteurs.
Normand Laprise: Laprise and partner Christine Lamarche have operated Toqué! since 1993 and launched the more casual Brasserie T! in 2010. Both restaurants focus on seasonal local cuisine. “For me, Quebec cuisine is very, very local — local produce and local [talent],” Laprise told F&H in 2017. Laprise has received a number of honours and recognitions throughout his career, including Relais & Château Grand Chef, Knight of the National Order of Quebec and Member of the Order of Canada.
John Higgins: Chef Higgins career has taken him around the world and seen him work in kitchens at Buckingham Palace, Four Seasons Hotels and Toronto’s King Edward Hotel. The Scottish-born chef has led national culinary teams in international competitions and has made several recent television appearances on Food Network programs, including Top Chef Canada and Chopped Canada. Higgins is currently Chef School director at George Brown College — a post he has held since 2002.
Vikram Vij: Chef Vij’s first restaurant, Vij’s, has been a Vancouver institution for more than two decades. He has since built a small restaurant empire which includes Vij’s Rangoli (Vancouver) My Shanti (South Surrey, B.C.), the Vij’s Railway Express food truck and Vij’s Sutra — a market/restaurant hybrid at the Victoria Public Market. The Indian-born celebrity chef and entrepreneur also boasts a line of frozen meals partnerships with brands including Air Canada, Chefs Plate and Neal Brothers, in addition to being the author of four books and appearing in TV shows such as Dragons’ Den.
Albert Schnell: As executive chef for Hilton flagships in Canada, Schnell has been a visionary, a culinary artist and a mentor to some of the finest chefs around the world during his 50-year career. He’s prepared banquets for three generations of the British royal family, as well as an array of international royalty. Before retiring, Schnell was a judge for the prestigeous Bocuse d’Or in Lyon, France. His legacy includes the Albert Schnell Hilton Learning and Catering Centre at Toronto’s Humber College.
Marcel Kretz: This French-born chef carries the unique distinction of being the first chef to receive the Order of Canada. Kretz helmed the kitchen of La Sapinière in Val David, Que. from 1961 through 1990 and is heralded as a pioneer in the development of regional Quebec cuisine and the showcasing of local products. During his career, the award-winning chef represented Canada in international competitions, taught part-time at École Hôtelière des Laurentides and was named CCFCC Chef of the Year in 1981.
Michael Stadtländer: The German-born chef came to Canada in 1980 to head up Toronto’s Scaramouche alongside friend and fellow chef Jamie Kennedy. In a release announcing the pair as recipients of the Governor General’s Award in Celebration of the Nation’s Table, the chefs were lauded as “the original locavores and Toronto’s first celebrity chefs.” Today, Stadtländer and his wife Nobuyo operate Eigensinn Farm and Haisai in Singhampton, Ont., where he practices his passion for farm-to-table cuisine.
Mark McEwan: McEwan began his career in 1981 as the youngest-ever executive sous chef at the Sutton Place Hotel in Toronto. He opened his first restaurant, North 44, in 1990, followed by Bymark restaurant, ONE and Fabbrica. In 2009, McEwan opened a $6-million, gourmet-food supermarket “McEwan” at Shops at Don Mills, with a second 6,000-sq.-ft. location added in the PATH at the TD Centre in 2015. His grocery store also creates grab-and-go items that are sold at the Toronto Pearson International Airport. McEwan has been an ambassador for Second Harvest in Toronto, helping to spread the word about food rescue and hunger relief.
Jamie Kennedy: Often called the godfather of Canadian cuisine, thanks to his innovative approach to gastronomy, commitment to sustainable agriculture and advocacy of local food, Kennedy has been instrumental in shaping the country’s culinary landscape. His restaurants included Gilead Café, Jamie Kennedy Gardiner, Jamie Kennedy at the ROM, Jamie Kennedy Kitchens and, most recently, Windows by Jamie Kennedy.
Susur Lee: Praised as one of the “Ten Chefs of the Millennium” by Food & Wine magazine, Lee helms five restaurants in Toronto — Lee, Luckee, Lee Kitchen and Fring’s — and oversees his prestigious TungLok Heen in Singapore’s Hotel Michael. He also makes numerous television appearances and travels the world as guest chef and consultant. In 2015, Lee partnered with HMSHost to launch Lee Kitchen at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport
Connie De Souza: De Souza is co-owner and chef at Calgary’s Charcut Roast House restaurant — named one of Canada’s top-10 new restaurants by EnRoute magazine in 2012. De Souza has also competed on Top Chef Canada.
Nestlé Professional: Founded in 1866 by Henri Nestlé, Nestlé is the world’s largest food-and-beverage company with more than 2,000 brands in 189 countries. Formerly known as Nestlé Foodservices North America, the company changed its name to Nestle Professional in March 2008
Cardinal Meat Specialists Ltd.: Brampton, Ont.-based Cardinal Meat Specialists Ltd. is a Canadian, family-owned company. For more than 80 years, the company has been dedicated to a values-driven philosophy for doing business.
Garland Commercial Ranges: In 1864, the Garland Line began in a small foundry in Detroit. It grew to become the Michigan Stove company in 1873, producing more than 200 varieties of stoves under the name Garland. In 1952, Russell Prowse brought Garland to Toronto. The Garland Group was formed in 1995 and in 2008 became part of Welbilt Company.
MCain Foods Limited: Established in 1957 in Florenceville, N.B. by Wallace and Harrison McCain — along with their brothers Robert and Andrew — McCain Foods Limited is the world’s largest manufacturer of frozen potato products. A multi-national, privately owned company, it employs more than 20,000 people on six continents with global sales in excess of $9 billion.
Donald Ziraldo + Karl Kaiser: Kaiser and ZIraldo co-founded Inniskillin Wines in 1975. The pair produced wines that put Canada on the map — raising the bar on the quality and gaining the industry respect. Their most well-known accomplishment was winning the coveted grand prix d’honneur at Vinexpo, France in 1989 for the Inniskillin Vidal icewine.
Donald Triggs: In 1993, Donald Triggs — along with Allan Jackson — founded Mississauga, Ont.-based company, Vincor Canada, which began to produce Jackson-Triggs wine. In 2006 Jackson-Triggs won the Gold Medal at the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) for best Shiraz/Syrah — the first Canadian red wine to be recognized by the IWSC. In 2010, they won their seventh Canadian Wine Producer of the Year title at the IWSC.
Holland College’s Culinary Institute of Canada, Charlottetown, P.E.I.: Students at The Culinary Institute of Canada use fresh local ingredients from the island’s farms and fisheries. Recently, the school earned two gold medals and a fourth overall placement at the IKA Culinary Olympics in Erfurt, Germany.
The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), Calgary: SAIT began as the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art (PITA) in 1916. The first publicly funded technical institute in Canada, it was renamed SAIT In 1960. SAIT offers a one-year Culinary Entrepreneurship program.
Canadian Food and Wine Institute at Niagara College, Niagara-on-
the-Lake, Ont.: With 40 acres of teaching vineyards, hop yards and organic gardens, this 40-year-old institute offers a variety of programs covering beer, wine and culinary innovation.
Centennial College School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Arts, Toronto: Led by dean Joe Baker, the program has grown to new heights. The school celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2017 and recently opened a 350,000-sq.-ft. hospitality centre that houses more than 700 students.
Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, Vancouver: Vancouver’s leading culinary school has been a training ground for pastry chefs since 1997. Recently, the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts was named the Best Professional Cooking School of 2018 by the Georgia Straight, a Vancouver-area publication.
Stratford Chefs School, Stratford, Ont.: Founded in 1983 by James Morris, Joseph Mandel and Eleanor Kane, the school ran as a private, non-profit institution operating out of the kitchens of Rundles and the Old Prune. Last year, the school moved to a new facility to accommodate the 70 students who attend its two-year program.
Humber College School of Hospitality, Recreation and Tourism, Toronto: This culinary school been teaching an extensive range of cooking, baking and management skills since 1982. As part of a student’s training, they will also work in the 120-seat Humber Room.
Red River College, Winnipeg: Opened in 1938, the college is known for its rich culture and Indigenous history. The school is preparing to introduce an Indigenous Culinary Skills Certificate in an effort to promote Aboriginal cuisine. Famous graduates include Gordon Bailey, who opened Lot 30 in P.E.I. in 2008.
University of Guelph, Guelph, Ont.: The School of Hospitality, Food and Tourism Management has a 47-year legacy of preparing students for careers in the foodservice and hospitality industry. Programs include the opportunity to study abroad for a semester or work for a year through its co-op program.
The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton, Alta.: NAIT opened its doors in 1962. Graduates of its Culinary Arts program work around the world in hotels, restaurants, resorts and catering companies. In 2009, NAIT introduced the Hokanson Chef-in-Residence Program with celebrity Chef Rob Feenie.
George Brown School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts, Toronto: George Brown’s culinary program was one of the first in Canada and is one of the longest-running — boasting famous alumni such as Mark McEwan and Jamie Kennedy. Its Chef’s House restaurant has molded and prepared students for decades.
Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec (ITHQ), Montreal: For more than 45 years, ITHQ has specialized in tourism, hospitality, foodservice and sommelier training. ITHQ is about to open the Hospitality Industry Innovation Centre, a research and development facility.