Week of June 28, 2010

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Kathleen Taylor to Add CEO to her President Title at Four Seasons
Kathleen Taylor has been appointed president and CEO of Toronto-based Four Seasons Hotels Ltd., effective Aug. 1, 2010, following the announcement that Isadore Sharp has decided to transition from his role as CEO. Company founder Sharp will remain as chairman “and continue to be involved in the company, retaining oversight and direction of the design and aesthetics of new and existing hotels in the manner that he has always done,” a statement said. Taylor, who joined Four Seasons in 1989, and has served as president and COO since 2007, commented, “I’sm greatly honoured to become the next CEO of Four Seasons and have the opportunity to continue building on the legacy of leadership and vision established by Issy. Over the course of my career, I have experienced first-hand the company’s commitment to building future leaders through careful development.” Laurence Geller, president and CEO of Strategic Hotels & Resorts, said, “Issy Sharp is an icon in our industry, who created and led the company to being a global brand synonymous with luxury.”

Four Seasons began with a modest motor inn that Sharp opened in downtown Toronto in 1961 and has grown to its present portfolio of 82 hotels, creating one of the most powerful and respected hospitality companies in the industry. The company has consistently built on its “four pillars for success: quality, service, culture and brand.”

Looking to the future, Taylor said, “Four Seasons is well positioned to take advantage of the recovery in luxury travel, and we are energized by all the positive developments at the company. These include our significant expansion plans for China, which we view as a key strategic market and a robust pipeline of more than 50 global projects in development. I am firmly committed to the strategies, culture and focus on exceptional guest experiences that have made our company the leader it is today.”

Governor General Honours Canada’s Food-System Leaders
A new, royal recognition honouring Canada’s food-system leaders was launched last week, as Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, and her husband, Jean-Daniel Lafond, presented the first-ever Governor General’s Awards in Celebration of the Nation’s Table. First proposed in 2006 by Lafond at Cuvée in Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ont., the awards “recognize and celebrate outstanding efforts in improving the quality, variety and sustainability of all elements and ingredients of our nation’s table,” the Governor General told a black-tie audience of more than 200 farm-to-fork sector leaders gathered in Rideau Hall, Ottawa.  

The inaugural award recipients are: Christian Barthomeuf, Frelighsburg, Que., and Alfred E. Slinkard, Saskatoon, for Creativity and Innovation; John Bishop, Vancouver, and Robert J. McLaughlin, Guelph, Ont., for Education and Awareness; James and Linda Gourlay, Bedford, N.S., and Jamie Kennedy, Toronto, and Michael Stadtländer, Singhampton, Ont., for Leadership; Jean-Luc Boulay, Quebec City, as well as Sinclair and Frédérique Philip, Sooke, B.C., for Mentorship and Inspiration; Avataq Cultural Institute, Nunavik, Que., and David Cohlmeyer, Thorton, Ont., for Stewardship and Sustainability. Ricky Sze Ho Lam, Saskatoon, was awarded in the Youth category.

The awards’ presentations and subsequent 11-food-station dinner had many light-hearted moments. Michaëlle Jean spoke with great charm about her culinary experiences across Canada, including her infamous raw seal tasting. She said, “I did not hesitate to share the ulu, the traditional knife used by Inuit women, to help prepare a community feast and cut up seal meat, of which the heart is considered the best part. In fact, I did so despite the risk of embroiling myself in controversy. The feast, to which my family and I were invited in Rankin Inlet, was a banquet in the purest tradition — an opportunity to share in the stories of the women, men and children of the community, who wanted to tell us of their close connection to their environment and, in particular, the animals on which they depend for survival in this land, where very little ever sprouts, grows or ripens.”

His Excellency Jean-Daniel Lafond, commented, “Over the last four years, my wife and my daughter and I have travelled across this country, both geographically and gastronomically. We have consulted with hundreds of people who contribute every day to the bounty of our nation’s table — farmers, food writers, sommeliers, chefs, cheese makers, fishers, teachers, students, hunters and tea makers. We gathered around tables in culinary schools, hotel kitchens, farmers’ markets and old firehalls and broke bread together — exchanging ideas, stories and points of view. It is from the fruits of those discussions that you find the very heart of this award. We completely agreed that this award had to be different from other awards. It had to recognize the human values we share around the table, and around the country. It could not be about the specific accomplishment of one chef, one winemaker or one food producer. It needed to recognize those who inspire us, who teach us and who delight us with their contributions to the nation’s table. It needed to recognize those with a passion for what links us together as Canadians.”

An advisory committee of Canadian experts oversees the nomination process. It includes:
chair Janet Dorozynski, Global Practice Lead, Canadian Wine, Beer and Spirits, Government of Canada; Chris Aerni, chef, Rossmount Inn, Saint Andrews, N.B.; Tony Aspler, author and wine writer, Toronto; Charles Baker, wine producer, Ontario; James Chatto, author and food and wine columnist, Toronto; Robert Clark, executive chef, Kambolis Restaurants, Vancouver; Harold Cushon, Agriculturalist, Saskatoon; Anne Desjardins, culinary author, Montreal; Ben Genaille, chef/instructor, Vancouver Community College; Anthony Gismondi, wine columnist and broadcaster, Vancouver; The Honourable Donald H. Oliver, Senator, N.S.; and Anita Stewart, author, founder of Foodday.ca, Elora, Ont.

Leading U.S Yogurt Chain Opening in Canada
A leading U.S.-based yogurt chain has teamed up with Concord, Ont.-based Yogurtworld Corporation to introduce the fast-growing Menchie’s yogurt brand to Canadian foodservice. The first opening is scheduled for September in Vaughan, Ont., just outside Toronto. A second Toronto location is also under development. Last week, Menchie’s Group, Inc. of Encino, Calif., announced a Master Franchise Agreement for Canada with Yogurtworld, which anticipates 100 locations within four years. Michael Shneer, president of Yogurtworld commented, “This is a revolutionary concept, as there is nothing like Menchie’s in the Canadian marketplace. We are confident that customers in Canada will embrace this unique business in the same way that the U.S. customers already have.”

Amit Kleinberger, CEO of Menchie’s, said, “We have been flooded with inquiries from potential international franchisees that enjoyed Menchie’s while travelling through the U.S. and want to open locations in their own hometowns. Partnering with Yogurtworld Corporation will help us meet the growing demand for self-serve frozen yogurt.” Menchie’s emphasizes putting “the customer in the driver’s seat,” by offering 100 rotating yogurt flavours and more than 60 rotating toppings to create the individual ultimate snack, paid for by the ounce.

Shakeup at CRFA — Steve Barber, VP Expositions, is Out
On Friday, June 25, a curt statement emailed by Garth Whyte, president and CEO of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, announced that “Steve Barber is no longer an employee of the association, effective immediately.” Barber was CRFA’s vice-president, Expositions, having joined the organization less than two years ago. Whyte advised that the “CRFA will be undertaking an immediate search for a replacement, with the objective of securing an individual with a strong track record who can evolve the current CRFA show into a major event that reflects the dynamic and innovative foodservice industry.”

Choice Building Suburban Extended Stay Hotels in Canada
Construction is underway for the first two Suburban Extended Stay Hotel properties in Canada in Estevan, Sask., and Thompson, Man. The hotels are part of the Silver Springs, Mary.-based Choice Hotels International Inc. Both properties are scheduled for opening in early 2011. The 89-room Estevan property is owned, and will be operated, by Estevan Hospitality Endeavors LP/Bridge Road Developments Ltd./Encore Hospitality Incorporated, represented by David Landzaat, CEO of Encore Hospitality Inc. The 70-room hotel in Thompson is owned and will be operated by Accommodations North, Ltd., represented by Winnipeg-based hotelier Angelo Paletta.

“Suburban Extended Stay Hotel is a perfect fit for these two extremely fast-growing cities in Canada,” said Kevin Lewis, president of upscale and extended-stay brands for Choice Hotels. “We are fortunate for the opportunity to expand our brands domestically and internationally.” He added, “Suburban Extended Stay Hotels offer guests great value over a longer stay. The Suburban brand provides everything a traveller needs for the perfect temporary housing solution, including full kitchens and discounts for weekly and monthly stays. Guests will also enjoy free cable TV and high-speed Internet access.”

Hospitality Leaders Open Up at Kostuch H20 Summit
Twenty hospitality leaders opened up a frank and wide-ranging discussion of industry issues at the inaugural H20 Summit, held in conjunction with the annual Top 100 Breakfast organized by Kostuch Publications Ltd., parent company of Foodservice and Hospitality and Hotelier magazines, at The Westin Prince in Toronto on Tuesday, June 22.

The event, which also honoured the Top 100 and Top 50 sales performers in the foodservice and hospitality business, respectively, began with a networking breakfast complete with good croissants, fruit and conversation, followed by an awards ceremony heralding seven companies. TDL Group Corp. (Tim Hortons) earned the top spot in the Top 100, as listed in Foodservice and Hospitality magazine, and the award for Greatest Dollar Increase over last year. Tim’s was followed by Tortoise Restaurant Group Inc., which eked out the Greatest Percentage Increase, and Compass Group Canada, recipients of the Green Leadership Award. Sister magazine Hotelier presented Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts an award for gaining the number 1 spot on its Top 50 list, while Atlific Hotels also earned a nod for Greatest Dollar Increase. Monte Carlo Inns was lauded for the Greatest Percentage Increase, while Minto Suite Hotel earned the Green Leadership award in the lodging category.

The morning’s events culminated in the H20 Summit, which united an impressive roster of industry heavyweights — including Jacques Mignault, COO of McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada Limited; Roland Walton, COO, TDL Group Corp.; David Minnett, president of Swiss Chalet and Harvey’s restaurants; Brian Richardson, VP of Brand Marketing & Communications for Fairmont Hotels & Resorts and Philippe Gadbois, senior VP, Sales & Marketing, Atlific Hotels.

The unique gathering saw the respected hospitality leaders talking candidly about everything from the recession to healthy food trends and social media. Government intervention, in particular, struck a chord with the panellists. “The issue of government intrusiveness is growing at the municipal level,” said Walton of the TDL Group. “Lots of plans from municipalities could be detrimental to our development,” he added, in reference to legislation surrounding paper cups and drive-thrus.

The group was united on their feeling about the power of social media, and most panellists agreed Facebook and Twitter are here to stay. “Brands are all about trust and you can’t get a more direct way of building that trust,” pointed out Colin Moore, Starbucks Coffee president, Americas. Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ Stephen Foster agreed. “It’s transitioned the way we reach our customers. Our marketing used to be a one-way dialogue, and now it’s multi-way. We used to tell people how wonderful our properties were, and now, we have to hope that our customers tell each other how great they are.”

The Vancouver Olympics provided some optimism moving forward, but even those hotel properties that benefited from days of sold-out rooms, were careful not to overstate the gains. “The Games undoubtedly provided a wonderful platform to showcase our properties in that part of Canada,” said Fairmont Hotels & Resort’s VP of Brand Marketing and Communications, Brian Richardson, who’s skeptical about the long-term benefits. “I want to believe that there will be positive residual effects, but if you look at the Salt Lake and Turin examples, it’s hard to show. At this point, we’re unlikely to advise any of our hotels to build anything into their 2011 budgets, reflecting positive residual benefits from the games.”

And although it’s a long climb back to the halcyon days of 2007, many are bullish about the future. “It’s a job requirement to be optimistic at Boston Pizza,” joked Ken Otto, executive VP at the pizza chain, alluding to the attitude of his famous boss, Jim Treliving of the CBC’s entrepreneurial series Dragons’ Den.

For more on the panel discussion and Top 100 and Top 50 lists, stay tuned for the upcoming issues of Foodservice and Hospitality and Hotelier, respectively, or check back in, here, at foodserviceandhospitality.com.

New Oliver & Bonacini Café Grill Opens in Toronto
Oliver & Bonacini’s empire has launched its newest Café Grill at Yonge and Front in the heart of Toronto. The 14,500-square-foot space holds 230 people and certainly lives up to chef and co-owner Michael Bonacini’s wish to create a restaurant where — he tells Toronto Life — it’s “really easy to get in for a quick bite.” Chef de cuisine Luke Kennedy is cooking up “global dishes with a modern bistro edge” for lunch and dinner. Think lamb and chicken burgers, giardiniera and chorizo pizza and sharing plates of buttermilk-battered onion rings and chicken and leek potstickers. The design, a collaborative effort between Bonacini and Anacleto Design, offers an intimate feel within the restaurant, bar and on the patio that features a communal table. “We took a massive space and infused it with character, charm and charisma through art, lighting and texture,” says designer Lindsey Anacleto. O&B has plans to open two more locations later this summer, both inside the new home of the Toronto International Film Festival, the Bell Lightbox.

Canadian Travel Costs Limit Domestic Tourism
Cost is the primary factor deterring Canadians from engaging in Canada-wide travel, with 67 per cent agreeing that travelling within their own country is sometimes more expensive than going abroad, according to a Leger Marketing survey for Travelzoo Canada, a division of the New York-based Internet company. Eight in 10 Canadians said seeing Canada from coast-to-coast is important but, on average, they’ve only visited four provinces/territories outside their own. The survey was conducted online between May 3 and May 6, using a national random sample of 1,506 Canadian respondents from Leger Marketing’s Web Panel.

First Female to Win Eat! Vancouver’s Master Chef Competition is Named
Nevada Cope, a full-time cook at Vancouver’s new Coast Coal Harbor Hotel and at La Vallee at The Executive Hotel, beat out 16 male chefs to win the Eat! Vancouver Black Box Master Chef Competition, becoming the first female winner of the contest. Cope created her winning dish using quail, ground pork, chorizo, turnip and Windset Farms Gusto hot peppers from the final Black Box. Cope is a graduate from the Culinary Arts program at the Art Institute of Vancouver, and has worked in several Vancouver kitchens.

Eat! Vancouver is Canada’s largest food and cooking festival, with more than 38,000 visitors in 2010. The festival will return to the Vancouver Convention Centre, June 10-12, 2011. The popular Master Chef competition will also return, in addition to the new World Association of Chefs Societies-sponsored Continental Challenge Culinary Competition involving chefs from around the world.

Cuisine Canada AGM Aug. 4, Toronto
The Annual General Meeting of Cuisine Canada will be held on Aug. 4 at The Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto. The time has yet to be determined. The executive committee, which includes Gail Hall, Michael Ridley and Anita Stewart, are calling for members from across Canada to submit nominations for five to seven Board positions. Members may nominate themselves or another member, but they must secure the agreement of that individual prior to nominating them. To nominate a member, their contact information and a short biography should be sent to cuisinec@uoguelph.ca. The deadline for nominations is July 15. The Board has also released the Cuisine Canada 2010 directory.

Canadian Food Featured on New Website
Canadian food and agricultural products are promoted to consumers and domestic and international buyers on the recently launched website, eatcanadian.ca. Linked to the federal Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada portal, it’s easily searchable and features recipes from leading Canadian chefs, the now-classic Savour Canada Menu, news releases, videos and more.

Construction Begins on Mammoth Bakery in Hamilton, Ont.
The construction of Canada’s largest bakery, a new 375,000-square-foot facility, began last week in Hamilton, Ont. Canada Bread Company Limited, 89.8-per-cent owned by Maple Leaf Foods Inc., is a leading manufacturer and distributor of fresh bakery products, frozen par-baked products and fresh pasta and sauces. The company had 2009 sales of $1.7 billion with operations across North America and in the U.K.

 

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