TORONTO — Last night the Toronto branch of the Canadian Association of Foodservice Professionals (CAFP) celebrated success at the 41st edition of its Top Management Night, which featured awards and a keynote address from a member of CBC’s Dragons’ Den.
The association’s annual gala and dinner, which has raised more than $350,000 in bursaries for hospitality students, began with a tribute to Mitch Kostuch and the introduction of a bursary in the name of the Kostuch Media founder who passed away in October.
Colleen Isherwood, senior editor of Ontario Restaurant News presented the Restaurateur of the Year award to Matthew Corrin, founder and CEO of the rapidly expanding Freshii brand. Rebecca LeHeup, executive director of the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance (OCTA), garnered the Newsmaker of the Year award for promoting food tourism in Ontario.
Rosanna Caira, editor and publisher of F&H magazine, presented the Hans Bueschkens Award of Merit to A&W, recognizing the North Vancouver-based chain’s impact on the community through its support for the MS Society of Canada. Paul Hollands, A&W president, accepted the award, crediting his franchisees for improving relationships within their communities. “The success of an enterprise is inextricably linked to the community,” he began, explaining that the business and community have a symbiotic relationship whereby they rely on each other for success. A&W’s annual Cruisin’ to End MS fundraising campaign grew from that concept; last year, franchisees raised $1.45 million for the MS Society of Canada.
The awards were followed by a keynote address from Jim Treliving, Boston Pizza chairman and star of Dragons’ Den. Treliving revealed how taking risks and learning from mistakes helped him grow his fledgling pizza business to 350 locations worldwide. After purchasing a restaurant with scant funds left over from his career in the RCMP, his first year in operation was a dismal failure; he lost $14,000 before expanding. Then, after growing to Ontario, his staff was ill-equipped to serve diners who typically ate dinner earlier than their Western counterparts. Soon after, he lost 20 units during the recession. But, despite each hurdle, Treliving’s team forged on, and the company now has units in Mexico with staggering 9,500-sq.-ft. footprints and featuring play areas for children. Overall, he credits hard work, a good product and good people with his success. “If you love being around people and talking to people, then you’re right for the restaurant industry — it’s a people business,” he summed up.
The Food Executive of the Year award went to Lesa Warner, director of Sales at Select Food Products Ltd. Treliving’s message resonated with her, she said. “There are some pivotal moments — it’s saying hello, it’s greeting the customer. We need to take the time on the daily courtesies of life.”
CAFP’s national conference will be held in Fredericton from May 28 to 30.