Record Crowd Takes In 20th Annual Pinnacle Awards


On Friday, December 5, a record number of executives, managers and insiders from ….

On Friday, December 5, a record number of executives, managers and insiders from Canada’s hospitality industry – 550 in total – gathered at The Fairmont Royal York hotel in downtown Toronto for Kostuch Publications Ltd.’s 20th Annual Pinnacle Awards luncheon. Each year for the past two decades, Foodservice and Hospitality and Hotelier magazines have honoured select companies and executives for their hard work, dedication and overall impact on their respective industries. The winners are chosen from a large group of nominees by each magazine’s editorial advisory board each year. Guests at the event were treated to a champagne cocktail reception at the hotel before they moved into the grand Canadian Room for the awards presentation and an exquisite lunch prepared by Executive Chef David Garcelon and his culinary team. Editor/Publisher Rosanna Caira welcomed guests into the ballroom before a video montage was shown of all the past winners from the last 20 years – a who’s who of the Canadian restaurant and hotel landscape. Diane Buckner, from CBC programs such as Venture, Fortune Hunters and Dragon’s Den, emceed the afternoon’s awards show, announcing the winners and welcoming them to the stage after a short video montage was played that highlighted why they were being honoured.

Pinnacle Awards Past Winners Retrospective Video:

Sponsored by Foodservice and Hospitality (F&H) magazine, the 2008 F&H awards were presented to:

Company of the Year: Western Canada: White Spot Restaurants, Vancouver, BC; accepted by Warren Erhart, President.

Company of the Year: Eastern Canada: SIR Corp., Burlington, ON; accepted by Peter Fowler, CEO.

Independent Restaurateur: Normand Laprise and Christine Lamarche, Toque Restaurants, Montreal. QC; Accepted by Laprise and Lamarche.

Supplier of the Year: Ecolab, Toronto, ON; accepted by Brian Henke, Vice President, Institutional Canada.

Franchise Excellence Award: New York Fries, Toronto, ON; accepted by Jay Gould, President.

Sponsored by Hotelier magazine, the lodging industry awards were presented to:

Company of the Year: Pacrim Hospitality Services, Bedford, NS; accepted by Glenn Squires, CEO.

Regional Company of the Year: Antonopoulos Group, Montreal, QC; accepted by Dimitri and Georgina Antonopolous.

Hotelier of the Year: Patrice Basille, Brookstreet Hotel, Ottawa, ON; accepted by Basille.

Supplier of the Year: A Couple of Chicks, Mississauga, ON; accepted by Patricia Brusha and Alicia Whalen.

A highlight of the affair was the participation of two special guests – both iconic figures in Canada’s hospitality industry. Past Pinnacle winners Isadore Sharp, CEO of Toronto-based Four Seasons Hotel & Resorts and Paul House, Chairman of Oakville, ON.-based TDL Group (Tim Hortons), were on hand to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Pinnacles, and they joined Buckner on stage for a lively question and answer session. During the 30-minute session, the noted executives talked about what has allowed each of their companies to be so successful as well as some of the challenges both industries currently face. “Our industry has had such a tremendous economic impact on the world,” said Sharp of the travel and tourism business. “It’s one of the largest industries in the world, with 107 countries employing some 8.5% of the world’s workforce. It’s a healthy growth industry.” When asked what it means to be Canadian, House commented, “We are about as Canadian as you can get,” to cheers from the crowd. “We expect you in our stores three to five days a week, and if you aren’st, we’sll call you,” he quipped. Sharp added, “Four Seasons flies the Canadian flag in 82 countries around the globe, and we are not adversaries in those countries. We are welcomed worldwide, and it’s because Canada has such a good reputation.” When asked by Buckner to comment on what’s the biggest challenge in this current climate, House stated, “The economy. We all have to establish a level of quality and value in what we do. We will be just fine if we offer our customers that quality and value.” Sharp revealed that he still cannot believe how the current economic meltdown was allowed to happen. “We have been blind-sided, and we can’st change what the government has done. Next year is certainly going to be tough, and hopefully things should be back to normal by 2010. But with U.S. Presidential Elect Barack Obama being a leader the world respects, that should bring everyone some comfort and confidence, and that’s what’s needed. And once we fix it, we can’st let it happen again.”

Also announced at the luncheon by Caira was that Mitch Kostuch, president and Group Publisher of Kostuch Publications Ltd., has been honoured by George Brown College for his dedication to Canada’s hospitality industry and his contribution and donation to the school’s Yes Chef! fundraising campaign. The new boardroom in its hospitality school has been named the Mitch Kostuch Hospitality Industry Boardroom.


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