Week of March 15, 2010

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CTV British Columbia Targets “Dirty Dining” — Videos Available
A CTV News series of reports last week targeted restaurant food safety inspection results in the Greater Vancouver and Fraser Valley area of B.C. The five-part series by Mi-Jung-Lee is based on a review of three years of inspection reports filed by Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health, both of which post inspection reports online, and the series includes site visits with CTV cameras in tow. In one segment, CTV targeted nine major fast-food chains, citing the number of violations posted for each 100 inspections, ranging from a high of 66 citations to a low of 13. Other local media reports have followed, identifying “repeat offenders” and mentioning inspection results and closures of both independent and chain restaurants, including hotel locations.

CRFA Show Reflects Growing Industry Optimism
The Canadian Restaurant and Foodservice Association’s annual CRFA Show wrapped up in Toronto last Tuesday after three days of seminars, demonstrations, packed aisles and an abundance of great food and drink. While visitors, exhibitors and guests circulated the show floor on Monday and Tuesday, members of Canada’s culinary elite, including renowned chefs Susur Lee, Jonathon Gushue, Giovanna Alonzi, Anne Yarymowich, Anthony Walsh and Donna Dooher shared some of their unique tricks of the trade in live cooking demos on one of two stages set at opposite ends of the massive convention centre. Other attendees were treated to sessions in one of many breakout seminars focused on financial skills, customer service, energy efficiency and restaurant design. Once again, the prevailing attitude in most of the rooms was one of confidence and optimism for the future. Not be overshadowed, the crew from BartenderOne, along with special guests Frankie Solarik of Toronto’s Barchef and Kevin Brauch of Iron Chef America and The Thirsty Traveler, were busy all three days, pouring drinks on the mixology stage. Highlighted by Brauch’s blindfolded sabrage demonstration and Solarik’s ‘how-to’ course with his signature vanilla-hickory-smoked Manhattan (a $45 treat at his bar), the stage was a near constant hub of activity and interest.

As reported by TheWhat’sOnReport last Monday, the feeling among most exhibitors, seminar presenters and delegates was one of cautious optimism. In particular, suppliers and distributors that had products that fit the mould of the CRFA’s recently released culinary trends survey were quick to point out the timeliness of their product. On the beverage side in particular, the sheer volume of drinks — from smoothies to sparkling water — extolling local, organic, GMO-free, healthy properties was certainly evidence of the future direction of F&B in this country. Only adding to that optimism was the notion that many of these new product offerings are meeting with a great deal of sales success in the marketplace, despite being premium products, sold at premium prices, reason enough to draw smiles from restaurateurs, distributors and manufacturers alike.

De Dutch Opens 19th Location in B.C., More Planned
Surrey, B.C.-based De Dutch Pannekoek House Restaurants Inc. has opened its 19th lower-mainland location in Grandview Corners Shopping Mall in South Surrey.

The opening marks the first of several scheduled for 2010, with another planned soon on Vancouver’s West 2nd Ave. De Dutch specializes in breakfast, brunch and lunch, offering customers its own blend of European ethnicity in its menu items, including The Pannekoek, its signature 12-inch diameter genuine Dutch pancake.

The new location, headed by franchisee Michelle Kendall, features 60 seats inside, plus 12 on the patio. It’s open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. “We are so pleased to start the string of this year’s restaurant openings with our new location in the South Surrey area, which is a young, vibrant community experiencing positive and steady growth,” said Bill Waring, the company’s president.

De Dutch is also looking for franchisees in Alberta.

CRFA Reports Record Revenue from Tradeshows — $9.6 M
With a renewed sense of financial optimism, the Annual General Meeting for the CRFA was held last Monday morning at Toronto’s Westin Harbour Castle. Treasurer Roland Walton explained that, “fiscal 2008 was a stellar year for the association. The industry embraced the CRFA Show plus its three regional shows, and that combination lifted revenues to a new high watermark of $9.6 million. The association is in a solid financial position, which makes my job a pleasure,” he added, pointing out that the extra revenue meant that the association finished the year with a surplus of $133,284, a marked improvement from the almost half-a-million-dollar loss sustained in 2007.

Outgoing CRFA chairperson Brenda O’Reilly completed her final duty commenting, “In 2009, we had to become more creative and more innovative. We introduced some new initiatives, and our new president, Garth Whyte, didn’t waste any time in his mission to represent one of the most important industries in our country.” New initiatives cited included: the presentation of chef’s coats to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and various provincial premiers; the launch of the association’s new magazine; the fight against a municipal sales tax in Manitoba; a ban on paper cups in Manitoba; and a harmonized sales tax in B.C. O’Reilly said, “It’s clear that customers love coming into our restaurants, which is why there appears to be such a huge disconnect between that, and the pain government seems intent on inflicting on our businesses,” she said.

Incoming chairman Gerard Curran, owner of Calgary’s James Joyce Irish Pub, said: “The past 18 months have been among the most challenging for our industry. First the banks stopped lending, and then the customers stopped spending. But solid businesses make the proper adjustments, and the same holds true for the CRFA.” Curran then went on to paint a picture, peppered with the writings of Joyce and John F. Kennedy, in which the CRFA would represent literally every one of Canada’s eateries. “An association in which every restaurant is a member, because they can’t afford not to be; that is my vision,” he concluded. (Click here for the foodserviceandhospitality.com story on Gerard Curran’s appointment.)

South St. Burger Opens 12th Location in Ontario
Premium burger restaurant chain, South St. Burger Co., based in Toronto, has opened its 12th location in Ajax, Ont., at 269 Kingston Rd. E. “We’re very excited to be opening our first restaurant east of Toronto in Ajax,” said Jay Gould, president of South St. Burger Co. and New York Fries. “Our Ajax customers have patiently commuted to our other locations as we built this restaurant.” South St. Burger Co.’s menu features third-pound burgers made from 100 per cent beef from cattle naturally raised on Canadian farms with no additives, hormones or antibiotics. Grilled whole chicken breasts and soy-based veggie burgers are also available. The menu, ranging in price from about $3 to $10, also includes sides like fresh-cut New York Fries, poutine, onion rings, garden salads and hand-scooped ice-cream milkshakes. The onion rings, like the fries, are fresh cut and cooked in trans-fat free sunflower oil. In addition, South St. offers more than 25 traditional and exotic condiment choices, such as wasabi mayo, mango chutney and guacamole, all at no extra cost. A selection of four real cheeses, including cheddar, swiss, goat and Monterey Jack with jalapeno, are also available

HDMC Registration Deadline, April 1 — University of Guelph
The April 1 application deadline for HMDC, the six-day, experienced hospitality middle-manager residential learning program at the University of Guelph is now approaching. Since 1987, HMDC has helped more than 1,600 industry leaders strengthen their companies’s position in the marketplace. Courses at the Guelph, Ont., school are tailor-made for companies who want their people to run the business as if it were their own and for those preparing to assume wider responsibilities within their organizations. Course content includes: Leadership/Group Dynamics, Yield Management, Asset Management, Financial Analysis, Flexible Budgeting, Enterprise Thinking and Interpersonal Skills. For more information, click here.

Technomic’s Trends and Directions Conference Part of CRFA Show
Foodservice operators have been forced to re-evaluate everything they do in light of the difficult economic conditions and the changes in consumer dynamics that have occurred over the past two years, according to the half-day seminar, Foodservice 2010 — Trends and Directions Conference, presented by Chicago-based Technomic Inc. The fast-paced, information-packed event, which attracted some 180 delegates, was held in Toronto during the CRFA Show in partnership with the CRFA. Chaired by Patrick Noone, Technomic’s director of Business Development, the presenters from the company were: Sara Monette, senior manager of Consumer Research; Melissa Wilson, principal; Kevin Higar, senior manager; and Eric Thoresen, director. The agenda included discussion on: Shifting Consumer Behaviour, Canadian Marketplace Trends, What’s Hot in Menu Trends; Social Media Opportunities and an Update on the U.S. Industry.

A turnaround in the Canadian foodservice marketplace is in sight, said Melissa Wilson, citing CRFA forecasts for 2.9 per cent positive growth in 2010, dominated by the Top 100 Canadian chains that represent approximately 21 per cent of the market. Hot concepts in the multi-unit sector where identified as: Toronto-based, 12-unit South St. Burger Co, which has announced plans to start franchising; Calgary-based, 29-unit Good Earth Coffeehouse & Bakery, a food-focused coffee restaurant; Regina-based, six-unit Brewsters Brewing Company & Restaurant, which features a family friendly atmosphere and Vancouver-based Mr. Mikes Steakhouse & Bar, known for its western appeal.

The key to success for hot concepts and growth chains, are: “fresh, fresh, fresh; visible social responsibility including going green and local and sustainable foods; websites that facilitate online ordering and online reservations; building up takeout, including dedicated spaces for takeout in the parking lot and in the restaurant; tight labour management during peaks and valleys; increased server training and promoting customer interaction; and incorporation of grazing and shared menu items.” (Editor’s note: next week’s issue of TheWhat’sOnReport will share further info on the Trends and Directions Conference, including Menu Trends and Social Media Opportunities.)

“Taste of the Mash” a Hit at CRFA Show
Among the many corporate activities held during the CRFA Show, the “Taste of the Mash” attracted both media and visitors for the 144-year-old tradition by Tabasco sauce producer, the McIlhenny Company, based in Avery Island LA. A form of an initiation ritual, in the same vein as “Kissing the Cod” in Newfoundland, the “mash” is a super-hot thick red paste of Tabasco-variety chili peppers, Avery Island salt, vinegars and spices intended to become Tabasco sauce after aging for three years in used bourbon barrels. The test consists of dipping the tip or back of an engraved silver spoon into the sauce and having a taste, followed by a shot of bourbon. Unlike Newfoundland’s cod ritual, you get to keep the spoon as a souvenir, complete with a neck band. The event was supervised by Canadian-born Harold Osborn III, vice-president of Agricultural Operations, and Stephen C. Romero, vice-president, International Sales. Osborn is a fifth-generation member of the McIlhenny family, which founded the company in 1868. Sold in more than 164 countries, the Avery Island factory produces 720,000 bottles of Tabasco a day. New inductees into the Order of the Mash include: Brad McCrae, Silverbirch Hotels; Kathryn Blais, Sobey’s; John Nerpiti, Z-Teca; Ilda Spatafora, UPGC; Gordon Mackie, SIR Corp.; Wayne Brittenden, University of Guelph; Jeff Chalmers, University of Waterloo, Peter Keating, Country Style; and Paul Methot, Pizza Pizza.

Another highlight of the CRFA Show for our own Foodservice and Hospitality magazine was the first-place finish of associate editor, J.D. Ney, in the media mix-off. Ney’s Bangkok Bourbon Sour wooed the panel of judges with its blend of bourbon, fresh muddled blood orange, Thai-basil simple syrup, aromatic bitters, egg white, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, cointreau and Tabasco’s Sweet and Spicy Pepper Sauce. “I’ve spent a lot of time in bars, and have a long history with alcohol,” Ney joked upon winning the top prize — a Texas Mickey of Bacardi rum.

Toronto’s Scaramouche to Stay Put
A Toronto culinary touchstone since 1980, Scaramouche Restaurant will be staying put at One Benvenuto Place until the end of 2016. The news comes after several uncertain years of short-term lease negotiations and speculation about if and where the landmark would move if the building it is in was converted from an apartment building to condominium ownership. “We’re delighted Scaramouche will be staying in its current location so we can continue to provide our many loyal clients and guests with the high level of cuisine and trusted service that’s been recognized for years,” said Carl Korte, company partner. “Extending our lease also means we can happily reinvest in our kitchen and dining room to maintain our position as one of Toronto’s top restaurants with the best view in town.” Scaramouche’s kitchen has long served as a training ground for rising culinary talent, with chefs such as Michael Stadtländer, Jamie Kennedy, Tawfik Shehata, Paul Boehmer and Corey Vitiello all having worked there.

New Team Members Appointed to Ritz-Carlton, Toronto
Toronto’s new Ritz-Carlton Hotel, scheduled to open later this year, announced two culinary appointments. Rainer Zinngrebe will be the director of Food & Beverage and Culinary, and Tom Brodi will take on the role of chef de cuisine at the hotel’s feature restaurant. Tim Terceira, general manager, commented, “Rainer’s global experience, paired with Tom’s local expertise, will provide us with the right combination to offer the award-winning cuisine and exemplary service that guests have come to expect from Ritz-Carlton.” Rainer joins the Toronto team from The Ritz-Carlton Cancun where he spent seven years as executive chef, developing the Ritz-Carlton Culinary Centre and overseeing operation of the property’s two five-diamond restaurants and banquet services. As chef de cuisine of the feature restaurant, Brodi will draw on his farm-to-table philosophy and strong relationships with suppliers from coast to coast to create a menu that incorporates seasonal and sustainable ingredients. A Toronto native, Brodi was the chef de cuisine at the award-winning Canoe Restaurant and Bar since 2004. He’s also worked at North 44 and Vaughan Estates in Toronto, as well as New York’s famed Gramercy Tavern.

 

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