Week of Aug. 9, 2010

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B.C. Operators Polled on HST Fallout
B.C restaurateurs have noticed a 10-per-cent decline in sales year-over-year, and they’ve declared the culprit to be the newly instituted Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), according to a recent survey. The province-wide poll, conducted by the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA), found 72 per cent of respondents surmise the new levy on restaurant meals has had a negative impact on business since it took effect July 1, and more than half say customers are spending less. Some reported a need to offer more specials to ease diners into the tax transition. “There’s no question the HST is hurting B.C. restaurants of all types, from fine dining to take-out,” says Garth Whyte, CRFA president and CEO. “On behalf of our members, we will continue to press Premier Campbell for action. With numbers like these, we urgently need government to work with us to mitigate the negative impact of tax harmonization.”

Young Driver Challenges Law
It appears as though a recently enacted drinking and driving law in Ontario, which bans any driver under the age of 22 from having any blood alcohol whatsoever, is being challenged on its constitutional merit, by 20-year-old Toronto resident Kevin Wiener. Wiener has filed an application with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice that claims the law is unconstitutional, as it discriminates based on age. Instead, Wiener says the law should be based on driving experience, which would include some older, but less experienced drivers. “I want to make it very clear that — like all Ontarians — I am absolutely against drunk driving and I am for safer streets, but that does not mean we should discriminate on the basis of age,” the disgruntled Toronto resident is quoted as saying by CTV. At a recent news conference, Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne explained how statistics show that drivers between the ages of 19 and 21 are nearly one-and-a-half times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes caused by drinking and driving, than other drivers. The new rule, which came into effect last week, has serious potential rules of service implications for the bar and restaurant industry.

Westjet Teams with Big Rock Brewery
Westjet flyers are about to receive a little in-flight bonus: an award-winning lager. Westjet and Calgary-based Big Rock Brewery recently announced they will be working together to bring the 2009 Canadian-brewed Grasshöpper wheat ale on board all flights with bar service. “One of the reasons we’sre so proud of our buy-on-board program is we support local businesses across Canada by sourcing their products for our in-flight menu,” says Bob Cummings, WestJet’s executive vice-president of Marketing and Sales. “We offer sandwiches and wraps produced by nearly a dozen popular local restaurants in Canadian cities, and we’sre very excited to add our first locally brewed beer, from Calgary’s award-winning Big Rock Brewery, to the menu.”

DirectCash Income Fund Announces Acquisition
DirectCash Income Fund is growing. This comes after news that the Fund’s operating subsidiary partnership, DirectCash ATM Processing Partnership, has made an agreement to acquire certain automated teller machine contracts from Cashline Inc., a privately held Victoria, B.C. corporation, for $16.1 million. The acquisition, which is subject to customary purchase adjustments and holdbacks, includes 830 ATM sites and related contracts, largely in B.C. and Alberta. The transition process of the acquired ATMs onto DirectCash’s ATM transaction processing and management system will begin within the next few months.

New Bottle Design Announced at Luksosowa Vodka
Luksosowa, the traditional Polish potato-distilled vodka, will begin distributing its newly designed bottle in Canada this fall. Recognized as one of the world’s purest vodkas, the square bottle shape features an easy-to-grip neck for pouring. The bottle was designed by Dragon Rouge in Europe and represents a departure from the longer, rectangular bottle shape it was known for since its inception. “We are thrilled to show off the sleek design to our valued Canadian consumers who have enjoyed our vodka for more than 20 years,” said Chris Ronikier, Canadian brand manager, while also pointing out that the vodka is a winner of 26 international competition medals.

New Phone App Links Foodies to N.S. Adventures
Consumers looking to book a restaurant table, tour a distillery or hunt for chanterelles in Nova Scotia can now tap into their smartphones for information. The initiative is due to the combined efforts of Taste of Nova Scotia, the Winery Association of Nova Scotia and The Nova Scotia Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage that have pooled resources to create Adventures in Taste, a new app that helps consumers plan their food and wine fun in Nova Scotia. Consumers now have access to an interactive, location-aware travel guide with a culinary focus. According to a story in the Canadian Tourism Commission newsletter, the collection of restaurants, local producers, specialty food shops, farmers’ markets, u-picks, breweries and wineries listed numbers approximately 100. Among the culinary tours and packages offered are chanterelle foraging on Cape Breton Island, a distillery tour that wraps up with the song and dance of a traditional ceilidah, a 100-mile diet tour of Nova Scotia’s southwest, an introduction to French New World cuisine, cooking classes, tasting menus, brewery tours and a variety of wine adventures, including a night in a vineyard. To download the free Adventures in Taste app, click here

Wendy’s Introduces New Salad Selections
Wendy’s is stepping up its game with the introduction of four new salads — apple pecan chicken, BLT cobb, spicy chicken Caesar and Baja — which are available nationwide. “Wendy’s new salad entrées offer unique pairings of premium ingredients and the choice our customers crave,” Lisa Deletroz, director of marketing for Wendy’s Canada, explains in a press release. “We are delighted to offer our customers a fresh, new take on salads.” Made fresh in-store, Wendy’s also prides itself on including high-quality ingredients not typically found in fast-food restaurants, including 11 types of greens; fruits such as cranberries and apples; blue cheese crumbles and shaved Asiago; fresh Pico de Gallo and guacamole; as well as roasted pecans and warm chicken. The leafy dishes are topped with new specially made Marzetti dressings, including pomegranate vinaigrette, avocado ranch, lemon garlic Caesar and creamy red jalapeno.

Crawford and Feenie to Appear at Eat! Food Fest
The 3rd annual Eat! Fraser Valley Food + Cooking Festival is set to return to Abbotsford, B.C., this year, boasting a roster of great celebrity talent. The two-day celebration of food, cooking, live demonstrations and more, will be held from Sept. 17 to 19 at Abbotsford’s Tradex Exhibition Centre, where Canadian chef Lynn Crawford, the star of the Food Network’s Pitchin’ In, is scheduled to grace the Food Network Celebrity Stage. Joining her will be Vancouver chef, Food Network star and Iron Chef winner, Rob Feenie. The festival will also feature the Bite of the Valley Pavilion, where visitors can indulge in menu foods from various local Fraser Valley restaurants with appetizer-size items ranging from $1 to $3.

American Culinary Federation Conference Attracts 600
Education and certification, practical and innovative culinary development as well as community service themes highlighted the packed program at the Anaheim, Calif., 2010 ACF National Convention of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) held last week, from Aug. 1 to 6. Close to 600 chefs, and as many spouses, suppliers and other friends participated in well over 100 different sessions, hands-on workshops, competitions and a two-day tradeshow.

The annual meeting highlighted the enthusiasm and satisfaction of attendees as noted by Michael Ty, president. “We’re on our way to operating ACF as a business,” he said. “We’re marrying financial responsibility with improved service to our members, providing stewardship of our resources today and for the future.” Signs of improved stewardship include reductions in several fees paid by members, including a 25 per cent reduction in attendance cost this year for national convention attendees. “This year we’ve balanced our budget after several years of losses and are forecasting a solid profit in 2011. We’ve also improved transparency,” he added. What’s more, Judson Simpson, president of the Canadian Culinary Federation (CCF), was honoured with an Honorary Lifetime Membership in the ACF, presented by Ty. In addressing the annual general meeting Simpson said both ACF and CCF are “built on our communities and our passion for food.” He added, “We recognize both the importance of sustainability in food and our role in our communities and in our chef’s communities and our respective federations.”

The 39th Annual Induction Dinner of the American Academy of Chefs (AAC), the honour society of ACF since 1955, honoured Canadian chef Claude Buzon, president of Chef’s Hat Inc., Edmonton, with induction as a new honorary member. Among the 33 new inductees to the AAC was chef Gissur Gudmundsson, Reykjavik, Iceland, president of the World Association of Chefs Societies, who was made a new honorary member. A highlight of the evening was the  induction of celebrated chef Charlie Palmer into AAC’s Culinary Hall of Fame as an “early advocate of farm over factory food” and developer/promoter of “a progressive American cooking style build on rambunctious flavours and unexpected combinations with a deep and lasting infusion of classic French cuisine.”

Support for the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation Chef & Child Foundation, Inc. (CCF), one of many community service activities by ACF members, was a recurring theme in presentations and among exhibitors on the tradeshow floor. Established in 1989, its purpose is to foster, encourage and stimulate an awareness of proper nutrition in pre-school and elementary school children, as well as combat childhood obesity. The foundation funds programs, which give instruction on nutrition and proper eating habits to school children. ACF president Ty presented three awards to chapters for their leadership and support “in reaching out to the community to help make so many lives better.” A leading example of industry support is French’s Foodservice.

Certification was another recurring theme at the ACF National Conference with participants winning credits for attending seminars and other parts of the program or for participating in competitions and other events. Sandy Friend, ACF’s director of certification, told a workshop of ACF chapter presidents and trainers, “Certification has proven its value for both employees and our member chefs. Employers can now be sure of what they are getting when they hire someone.”

The ACF Annual General Meeting heard striking comments from Dr. Janet Thornton, deputy under secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Services, who said, “Today, we have the first generation of children who are unlikely to live longer than their parents — due to childhood obesity.” She added, “We [also] now have a generation of parents many of whom don’t know how to cook, other than taking a product from a package and putting it into a microwave.” She estimated that obesity alone is costing the U.S economy US$120 billion each year in health care and other costs.

Iconic Fairmont Peace Hotel Reopens in China
The wait is over with the recent re-opening of Shanghai’s landmark Fairmont Peace Hotel by Jin Jiang Hotels International and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. The historic property, which originally opened in 1929, housing the city’s first electric elevator, closed for a comprehensive restoration in 2007. Today, the revitalized hotel boasts 270 deluxe guestrooms and suites along with six restaurants and lounges designed with a blend of the old and the new. The revamped Jazz Bar, a city favourite since the ’30s, has returned, while the Chinese restaurants Dragon Phoenix and The Cathay Room sit a floor above the Peace Hall where the sprung-wooden dance floor invokes memories of parties past. The guestrooms also blend the old and new as art deco motifs and furnishings complement state-of-the-art room technology, such as a 37-inch plasma TV, a bath-side LCD screen, a Blu-ray DVD player as well as wireless and broadband Internet with plug-and-play connectivity. Other hotel highlights, include a new extension to the property that will feature a sky-lit swimming pool and Willow Stream Spa.

Fairmont Vancouver Airport Introduces Beekeeping Initiative
It’s been a busy couple of weeks at Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, first in China with the reopening of Fairmont Peace Hotel, and most recently at The Fairmont Vancouver Airport, where a beekeeping project has been announced. The harvest, which is expected to double next year, will be supplied by 24 colonies of honeybees situated at McDonald Beach Park, just five minutes from the hotel. “Our hives are now installed and are a first for any airport and hotel partnership,” Kamal Silva, the property’s executive chef, who is already planning a signature line of honey offerings, said in a press release. “We’re already seeing the fruits of our bees’ hard work as they forage and produce some of Richmond’s best local honey. In just the first couple of weeks, I’ve tasted raspberry and blueberry notes in our honey that will continue to be infused with flowers and herbs throughout the season.”

Touring Ontario with Motel 6
Motel 6 has announced a Golden Horseshoe getaway, highlighting Ontario’s National and Provincial Park Loop on its website Goin’ 6, which helps travellers plan road trips. “A trip around the Golden Horseshoe in late summer or early fall is an outdoorsman’s dream, offering magnificent natural sites and beautiful weather,” said Olivier Poirot, CEO for Accor North America, Motel 6 and Studio 6. “With Goin6.com, we provide travellers a database of ideas and tools for planning a road trip to this and many other outstanding destinations across North America.” Along with a look at the country’s sweeping landscape, site visitors can see how to plan a unique trip, while pinpointing Motel 6 locations along the way.

 

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