TORONTO — Sustainability and top-notch service were themes woven through the winners’ stories during Friday’s Pinnacle Awards, where industry executives gathered at Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York hotel on Friday to enjoy the “Oscars” of the hospitality industry.
The 26th annual awards ceremony was hosted by Toronto’s Kostuch Media, publisher of F&H and Hotelier magazines; it was emceed by Rosanna Caira, editor and publisher, and Michael Bonacini, partner of the Toronto-based Oliver & Bonacini restaurants. The duo presented awards to 10 companies whose innovative ideas, significant accomplishments and community focus during the past year have made a profound impact on the industry.
The ceremony began on a sombre note with a tribute to Mitch Kostuch, company founder, who died Oct. 23. The audience of nearly 500 raised their glasses to salute the long-time publisher’s influence on the hospitality and media sectors.
F&H winners included Toronto-based King Street Food Company (Company of the Year, Eastern Canada); Vancouver-based Cactus Restaurants Ltd. (Company of the Year, Western Canada); Toronto-based Chase Hospitality Group (Independent Restaurateur of the Year); Lunenburg, N.S.-based High Liner Foods Inc. (Supplier of the Year). Ned Bell, executive chef of the Four Seasons Vancouver and winner of the Chef of the Year award, whose menu at the Yew Seafood + Bar champions a menu of Ocean Wise-certified seafood, noted that the future of seafood will be based in more sustainable models, such as land-based, closed-containment aquaculture.
Hotelier magazine winners included Mississauga, Ont.-based Choice Hotels Canada (Company of the Year, National); Saskatoon’s Airline Hotels Ltd. (Regional Company of the Year); and Seattle’s Starbucks Coffee Company as (Supplier of the Year). Zita Cobb, innkeeper of Fogo Island Inn in Newfoundland, who won Hotelier of the Year, was moved to open a 29-room inn in her small home community of 2,700 inhabitants. Quoting economist Tim Jackson, Cobb said her inn’s success is rooted in an “economy of craft, care and culture,” and is supported by business and technology. She added, the irony in running a hotel in a community whose specialty is hospitality begs the question, “Is it still hospitality if you charge for it?”
The afternoon drew to a close with the presentation of the Rosanna Caira Lifetime Achievement award to Isadore Sharp, founder and chairman of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. In accepting the award, he noted that although hard work, perseverance and belief are integral to success, having good ethics is most important. “A business agreement is more than a contract — it’s rooted in trust,” he said.
Check out the January issues of both magazines for photos from the event.