Culinary School Closed By Ontario Government
The 18-year-old, private, vocational, Niagara-on-the-Lake Culinary School, was closed last Friday by officials of the Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) on charges of operating illegally following a claim by some students that they had been exploited by school owners. “The school has been shut down, and there will be fines coming,” said MTCU spokesperson Annette Phillips speaking to the Toronto Star. A “Notice of Immediate Suspension” has been posted on the property advising students the Ministry intends to revoke the school’s registration on March 2. Founded in 1992 by GBC and Associates, Niagara-on-the-Lake Culinary School is operated by Chef Geoffrey Bray-Cotton and his business partner, Janice Bartley. Bray-Cotton has retained a lawyer and plans to appeal the suspension, which he has called “excessive and unfair.” The school has been using the kitchen at the Peller Estates Winery Restaurant for basic food training and has been placing students in six-month paid internships at restaurants across Ontario and in Banff, Alta. Peller’s executive chef Jason Parsons confirmed that the winery allows the school to use its kitchen facilities free of charge, and added that he was surprised to hear of the allegations because he believes the school does an excellent job training students. “I would hire any of (Bray-Cotton’s) students in a heartbeat.”
Lux Restaurant Group Adds Coffee Concept, Chiasso, to Roster
The Calgary-based Lux Restaurant Group has announced plans to launch the Chiasso Coffee Company cafés, as part of its portfolio that already includes Flatiron Restaurant and Bar and Kayne’s Restaurants. “We believe coffee connects people,” says Adam Drybrough, a partner at Lux. “Chiasso is an ideal addition to our existing restaurant family.” Chiasso, a chain of coffee cafés, will serve fresh-baked breads and pastries, homemade soups, sandwiches and other hot food. The new concept is scheduled to open at both Jamieson Place and Centennial Place in Calgary before the end of summer. “At Chiasso, our aim is to enrich our guests’ experiences. We back up great coffee and food with exceptional people,” says Drybrough. One such person is Lux’s vice-president, Scott Frank, a Red Seal Chef, with nearly two decades of restaurant and coffeehouse experience. “Following a brilliant career at Earl’s Restaurants, Scott became the operations director for Caffè Artigiano (a 14-location coffee concept), where he managed recruiting, training and development, quality control systems and profit control,” the Lux partner added.
Canadians Eating More Pre-Packaged Foods — NPD Group
Canadians have been searching for easy-to-prepare pre-packaged meal options that are heart healthy and nutritious, according to the report, Eating Patterns in Canada (EPIC) – 12th Edition, published by the Toronto-based NPD Group. “A lot of ink has been devoted to the locavore and 100-mile-diet movements, but the vast majority of Canadian households see food in an increasingly practical, utilitarian way where time and perceived nutritional punch continue to rise in importance,” said Joel Gregoire, food and beverage industry analyst. The report found that Canadians consumed an average of 380 homemade meals in 2009, down from 398 in 2008. In fact, 75 per cent of meals made in the country last year were prepared in 15 minutes or less and consumption of frozen food jumped to its highest level in a decade, with a 15 per cent spike since 2004. Seventy-six per cent of consumers claim that nutrition is the most important factor when planning meals, compared to the 13 per cent who rank taste as more essential. According to the report, sodium (85 per cent), saturated fats (84 per cent) and trans fats (85 per cent) are the top three things Canadians are looking to cut from their diet, opting instead for foods rich in fibre, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.
Pizza Pizza Partners with Cineplex Entertainment
Pizza Pizza and Cineplex Entertainment have joined forces in a national promotion, effective Feb. 15 through to April 29. “When you’re spending time with friends and family, Pizza Pizza’s got something everyone can enjoy,” said Pat Finelli, chief marketing officer for Toronto-based Pizza Pizza. “We can help you take it one step further by offering a night out at the movies with our two-for-one Cineplex movie pass.” Starting Feb. 15, customers receive a Cineplex two-for-one movie pass when they order Pizza Pizza’s Movie Mania special or one of Pizza Pizza’s recently launched family size pasta al forno platters. The Movie Mania special includes two medium pizzas with two toppings, plus four cans of pop for $18.99. The new pasta al forno dishes come in a four person portion of macaroni and cheese, penne bolognese or tortelloni alfredo, plus four pieces of garlic bread for $16.99. The promotion will extend across the country to approximately 375 traditional Pizza Pizza restaurant locations and participating Cineplex Theatres, until April 29.
Wyndham Montreal Airport Houses/Aides Haitian Refugees
According to a story in the Montreal Gazette, a total of 3,496 evacuees arriving on 39 flights following the Haiti earthquake have been housed and processed for entry into Canada at the 486-room Wyndham Montreal Airport Hotel. Parsippany, N.J.-based Wyndham Worldwide Corporation reported that the hotel has served as a transition centre for displaced and earthquake-shocked Canadians and other refugees coming from Haiti. The Wyndham was chosen as the processing centre because the hotel’s layout allows for the easy separation of evacuees in one part of the hotel, worried family and friends in another while the hotel continued to accommodate vacationers and business travellers. The hotel has offered evacuees access to basic necessities like food and clothing, counselling and other humanitarian services. More than 100 aid workers are putting in 12-hour shifts for as long as the evacuations last. Hotel general manager Kevin Gillespie said, that with the possibility the hotel could be an evacuee centre for another six weeks to deal with the approximately 5,000 Canadians and Haitians still to return, workers will have to maintain their energy. Night staff has been doubled to 30 or 40, with chambermaids cleaning rooms until midnight in case additional rooms are needed.
Loblaw Drops “Unsustainable” Fish
Starting Feb. 4, selected Loblaw Companies Limited stores have removed “unsustainable fish” from its fish counters, including species such as orange roughy, skate, sea bass and shark. This is a step in meeting Loblaw’s previously announced 2013 goal to source all seafood sold in its stores from sustainable sources. “As Canada’s largest buyer and seller of seafood, Loblaw has taken a hard look at the challenges facing the world’s oceans and what it means to us,” said Paul Uys, vice-president, Fresh Foods. “We believe it’s critical that Canadians understand this important issue, and the changes at our fresh seafood counters are among the first steps we have taken to educate customers as to why Loblaw is committed to sourcing all seafood sold in our stores from sustainable sources.” For Loblaw, “Sustainable seafood means that the type of seafood caught can maintain or increase its population in the future without harming the ecosystems from which they come.” Loblaw is partnering the WWF-Canada and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). Loblaw will offer sustainable seafood guides in-store, promote products certified by MSC in the February 2010 President’s Choice, Healthy Insider’s Report, and host a new Facebook page.
CAFP Hosts Top Management Night in Toronto
Last week more than 200 industry executives packed into Toronto’s Old Mill for the 36th annual Top Management Night of the Canadian Association of Foodservice Professionals (CAFP). The gala evening featured the presentation of five awards, including media awards sponsored by Foodservice and Hospitality (F&H) magazine and Ontario Restaurant News. Champions of Education awards were presented by the night’s host.
In presenting the Hans Bueschkens Award to Pizza Nova, F&H editor and publisher, Rosanna Caira, acknowledged the importance of giving back to the community, something that has become a significant part of Pizza Nova’s success. In fact, since 1994 the company has donated more than $1 million to the community through various initiatives. In addition to corporate event sponsorships, the company has a special place in its heart for children’s charities, with fundraising efforts directed to the Hospital for Sick Children and Variety — the Children’s Charity of Ontario. Every year on the second Tuesday in May, Pizza Nova offers one medium pepperoni pizza for $3.99, including tax, with $1 of the price donated to Variety. The single-day event in 2009 raised more than $109,000. To date, Pizza Nova has raised more than $700,000 for the cause. The pie company is also involved in a host of other charities, including: Villa Charities (raising $100,000 to date); Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, Unicef (Schools of Africa program); United Way and Sick Kids Hospital. In accepting the award, vice-president, Domenic Primucci, stressed the importance of community, applauding the invaluable efforts of his team.
Other award presentations included Ontario Restaurant News’ Restaurant Company Of the Year, which went to Mandarin Restaurant and the Newsmaker of the Year, which was presented to Tim Hortons. The Champions of Education and Training awards were presented to Joe Baker of George Brown College for educator and to Garland Canada for corporate.
Capping off the evening, Richard Worzel, futurist and author of Who Owns Tomorrow, spoke of the importance of listening to and studying trends to better understand where we’re going. Interestingly, Worzel reminded the audience that 9/11, SARS and hurricane Katrina were forecast but dismissed as alarmist. “We have a failure of imagination,” said Worzel. “We think tomorrow is going to be like today.” Worzel also discussed drivers of change, like climate, food and technology. “The next decade will see huge changes in technology,” said Worzel, pointing to the continuing development of robotics. “Automation will come into the workplace in a very big way and change the dynamics of an industry that is very dependent on human labour.” He reminded the audience that the “best way to predict the future is to invent it.”
National Chain Account GPO Started By Glen Nelson
A new group purchasing organization (GPO) focused on National Chain Account business in Canada has been launched by veteran foodservice purchasing executive Glen Nelson, most recently with Compass Group as director of Procurement. The new group, Food Service Exclusive Alliance (FSEA), has five initial member partners: Mary Brown’s Famous Chicken & Taters, Dana Hospitality Inc, Canada Catering, Marek Hospitality Inc., and Food Systems Consulting Inc. In a statement, Nelson explained, “The company goal is to work for an exclusive group of foodservice chain operator partners, utilizing compliant combined category purchasing power; to become the industry’s leading leveraged ‘non-proprietary’ and completely transparent procurement solution.” He added, “We are a unique offering in our marketplace, as we are completely unbiased and answer to no one but our member partners.” For information: (905) 337-5908.
Toronto’s Delta Chelsea Offsets 109 per cent of its Carbon Footprint
Canada’s largest hotel, Toronto’s Delta Chelsea, has offset 109 per cent of its annual carbon footprint since joining the LivClean Eco-Stay Program in February 2009. Delta’s regional vice-president and managing director, Josef Ebner, said, “With all of the environmental initiatives implemented by the hotel since 2005, the Delta Chelsea has reduced emissions by 64 per cent. For 2009, 7,845 tons of carbon offsets were purchased from emission-reducing projects and the amount of carbon removed from the atmosphere is equal to removing 572,685 cars off the road for a day.” He added that all of the contributions made by the Delta Chelsea have been Canadian Standards Association-Certified. The LivClean Eco-Stay program asks each hotel guest to donate $1 plus GST upon checkout and all funds are sent back to LivClean to purchase carbon offsets on the hotel’s behalf.
McDonald’s Introduces “Real Fruit Smoothies” at Olympics Prior to U.S. Launch
McDonald’s Corporation is using the 2010 Winter Olympic Games to introduce its latest beverage, Real Fruit Smoothies, in strawberry-banana and wild berry flavours, which are scheduled to be available in all U.S. locations by summer. The new smoothies are part of the McCafé lineup, which currently includes hot and iced-coffee drinks. The products are being served in the three Olympic restaurants McDonald’s is operating in Vancouver and Whistler. The restaurants offer McCafé beverages and snacks, including new snack-wraps created by “Chef Dan” Coudreaut, McDonald’s director of Culinary Innovation. Also available are McDonald’s signature menu items, such as Chicken McNuggets and Big Macs.
McDonald’s Canada president, John Betts was joined at the opening of its three Olympics venues by members of McDonald’s Olympic Champion Crew, made up of 300 top-performing restaurant employees from across Canada, who are working at the restaurants. “McDonald’s is proud to welcome the world to Vancouver, and we’re proud to celebrate the Games,” Betts said. He added that at more than 1,400 restaurants across Canada, customers can enjoy new limited-time Olympic menu offerings such as the S’mores Pie and the Crème Brûlée Crunch McFlurry.
Sixty-Eight Alberta Mac’s Convenience Stores Go for Green Power
Sixty-eight Mac’s Convenience Stores in Alberta have been “bullfrog-powered” with 100 per cent locally produced wind power (approximately 11,458 MWh annually), reducing the stores’ collective electricity-related carbon dioxide emissions footprint by 9,166.4 tonnes each year. When customers sign up, Bullfrog Power’s generators inject renewable electricity onto the regional grid to match the amount of power the business uses, according to the company. Kelly McGuire, senior director of Operations, Western Division for Mac’s Convenience Stores, said in a statement, “Signing on for green electricity was one action we could take to reduce our environmental footprint and support the generation of clean, renewable electricity in Canada.”
NRA’s Kitchen Innovation Award Winners Annouced
The National Restaurant Association has announced the recipients of its prestigious 2010 Kitchen Innovations Awards, which will be showcased in an interactive demonstration area at the 2010 NRA Hotel-Motel Show at Chicago’s McCormick Place, May 22 to 25. The winners are posted on the foodserviceandhospitality.com website under the international section. Selected by an independent panel of experts, the award recipients provide restaurant and foodservice operators with new solutions to serve their guests the highest quality meals and service while increasing productivity, safety, cost-efficiency and environmental sustainability.
Toronto’s George Brown Unveils New Baking and Pastry Facility
It’s been a busy few years for Toronto’s George Brown College. In 2009, the multi-million dollar fundraising campaign, Yes Chef!, culminated in a redesign of the hospitality centre, and last week its spanking new Baking and Pastry Arts facilities were unveiled. The addition was made possible through the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Apprenticeship Enhancement Fund (AEF), which made a $1.6-million investment over three years. The college also supported the initiative with additional funds, bringing the total investment to $2.3 million. “This substantial financial commitment will ensure extensive new training opportunities for our students and help prepare them to meet the increasing demand of our enrolment in this field, while enabling them to gain a competitive edge and graduate as professionals able to transfer directly into a meaningful job,” said John Walker, dean of the Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism. As part of the new facility — housed on the ground floor of the Hospitality School at 300 Adelaide St. E. — industry standard, modern equipment has been installed at the three newly renovated interactive learning labs. Each brightly lit lab consists of workspace for 24 students, with rotating and rack ovens, proofers, blast freezers and more. Walker stressed the importance of students learning first-hand on equipment similar to what they will use in the industry. “This facility meets and exceeds our requirements,” said Keith Mueller, chair of the Hospitality School. The facility currently houses three separate three-hour courses through the day and one in the evening, as part of its Continuing Education program.
NAFEM Names New Officers and Directors
Steven Follett of the Follett Corporation has been appointed new president of the Chicago-based North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers (NAFEM). Former president Paul Angrick, president of Pitco/Magic Kitch’n, is now NAFEM’s immediate past president. Tom Campion of Franke Foodservice Systems holds the position of president-elect and Michael Whiteley of Hatco Corp. will serve as secretary/treasurer. Re-elected to the NAFEM board of directors for three-year terms are: Kevin Fink of Mile-High Equipment Company/Ice-O-Matic; Dana Rafferty of Chicago Metalic; and Mike Shanahan of CADCO Ltd. Newly elected for three-year terms are Kevin Clark of Delfield Corp. and Rob Connelly of Henny Penny.
Technomic to Highlight Foodservice Trends at CRFA Show
The first ever Canadian Foodservice Trends & Directions conference, presented by Chicago-based Technomic, Inc., will be held Monday, March 8, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., in conjunction with the 2010 CRFA Show at the Direct Energy Centre in Toronto. Highlights of the program include: Canadian marketplace trends — what’s new in consumer dining out?; hot menu trends; shifting consumer behaviour — how can you meet diner demand?; North American growth concepts; what’s happening in the U.S. restaurant industry, and what it means for Canada; and social media opportunities — are you making the most of them? The Technomic presenters are: Melissa Wilson, principal at Technomic and Kevin Higar, senior manager. Conference cost is $245, which includes free show admission. For information, click here.