Week of May 3, 2010

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Ontario’s Inn at Manitou Not Opening for Its 37th Year
The award-winning Inn at Manitou resort in McKellar, Ont., will not be opening its doors for its 37th season as scheduled on May 7. Located on Manitouwabing Lake, about 2.5 hours north of Toronto, the property has “run into financial difficulties and will not be opening,” according to a spokesperson for Relais and Château, which still lists the Inn on its website. In various media reports last week, Sergei Iakhnin, whose family made two deposits totalling $3,000 for a four-day visit this September, said he received a letter stating, “The Inn is not in a position to return any deposits you might have given in connection with your reservation.” Iakhnin said he spoke with owner Sheila Wise, who, according to the Toronto Star, told him she had no warning they were going to lose funding, that she had no control over the property or its financial accounts and that he should contact his credit card company about the deposits. Termination letters received by employees referred them to The Equitable Trust Company. There has been no word yet on whether the resort plans on reopening.

Ignatieff Pushes for National Food Policy
Standing at an Ontario farm in place of a campaign stump last week, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff committed to helping Canadians eat healthier, home-grown food through a National Food Policy based on healthy eating, safe food, sustainable farm incomes, environmental farmland stewardship and international leadership. “We need more home-grown food on Canadian tables — because our health and our economy depend on it,” said Ignatieff. “Our farmers produce the healthiest, safest, highest-quality foods in the world — and we’ll help them get more of their products on our tables with Canada’s first comprehensive National Food Policy.”

According to Ignatieff, the Liberal plan would feature: $80 million for a buy local program encouraging farmers’ markets, along with a $40-million program to help some 250,000 children access healthy local foods; $50 million for the improvement of food inspection; systems that would seek to provide farmers with more sustainable incomes; a strengthening of Canada’s position in terms of environmental farming and stewardship; and the promotion of Canadian food abroad, particularity in Africa and some of the world’s most impoverished nations. Farming and food production has been relegated to the back-burner in recent elections in favour of healthcare, the economy and other hot-button issues, but local-food devotees and farmers alike will surely be pleased with this salvo, as they continue to push the issue onto the national stage.  

New CEO Announced at Clearwater
Ian Smith, former Campbell Soup senior, has been named the new CEO at Clearwater, and he’s set to take the driver’s seat May 17. Campbell, who has more than 21 years of experience in the foodservice industry, will fill the space left by former CEO and current chairman of the board, Colin MacDonald, who announced his retirement in 2008. “I am honoured to have the opportunity to lead this innovative Canadian seafood company. Clearwater is not only a world leader in sustainable harvesting practices and resource management, it has a world-recognized brand and reputation for the very highest quality shellfish and a proven record in the innovative use of technology,” said Smith. “I am extremely proud to have the opportunity to lead an industry leading company like Clearwater and such a dedicated and talented workforce and experienced management team.”

Calgary Restaurant Makes Top 100 List Alongside Ontario Resort
Two Canadian restaurants have earned international distinction by placing on the San Pellegrino World’s 100 Best Restaurants list. Calgary’s Rouge Restaurant placed 60th, while Langdon Hall in Cambridge, Ont., placed 77th. The announcement was made April 26 in London, England. After a challenging year, Paul Rogalski, chef and co-owner of Rouge, is hoping the distinction will earn the restaurant, which specializes in local cuisine, some increased attention and translate into better sales, cbc.ca reports. San Pellegrino has been running the contest with the U.K.’s Restaurant magazine since 2002. A total of 806 critics, journalists and food experts from around the world are involved in selecting the top dining establishments. Countries are organized into geographical zones and voted on by panellists in the specific region. This year’s chart-topping eatery was Danish restaurant Noma, which dethroned Spain’s elBulli from its perennial perch for the last four years. For the complete list, click here.

HACCP-Based Food-Safety Packaging Wins Federal Funding
The Packaging Association of Canada (PAC) will be receiving $569,000 to strengthen its food-safety systems and its PACsecure food-safety program. Funding from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada was announced last week at PAC’s Packaging Food Safety Summit. The funding is being made through the Canadian Integrated Food Safety Initiative (CIFSI) to assist organizations in developing national, government-recognized on-farm and/or post-farm Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points (HACCP) or HACCP-based food-safety systems. For more information, click here.

Discounting Hoteliers Question its Effectiveness — Cornell
While rate discounting at hotels was the number-1 tactic used by hoteliers to offset the effects of the recent recession, most hotel operators who cut their prices agreed that the practice was not particularly successful in maintaining revenue levels. Asked if they would continue discounting if the economy spiraled into another recession, the respondents said they would avoid it and focus instead on market initiatives. Some 980 hotels from around the world participated in a study conducted from December 2009 through February 2010 by Cornell University’s Centre for Hospitality Research. Entitled Successful Tactics for Surviving an Economic Downturn, it was spearheaded by Sheryl E. Kimes, Ph.D.

Discounting was only one of four tactics applied to offset the effects of the drop in corporate and leisure travel. The other three tactics, in descending order, were marketing initiatives, obscuring room rates and cutting costs. Hotels that sought to attract new market segments reported reasonably strong success. Those that used rate-obscuring tactics typically assembled value-added packages, offered a free night with purchase or made heavier use of opaque distribution channels. About one-quarter of respondents reported cutting costs, usually by closing facilities, taking the opportunity for renovation or reducing operating hours. For 2010, in addition to marketing programs, the respondents said they planned to use rate-obscuring approaches, with an emphasis on value-added packages.

Soy Can Be Included in Every Daypart — Chef Brad Long
“Appetizer, entrée, dessert or snack, soy products are finding their way into every daypart in restaurants and in the supermarket,” was the message from Food Network and Toronto celebrity chef Brad Long. He was speaking about the new “Soy for Life” marketing program and the website, soyforlife.ca, which was held at Toronto’s new Whole Foods Market in Yorkville. “Soy food is a global ingredient for carrying your choice of flavours,” said Long, who serves tempura tofu with a signature ponzu dipping sauce at his Veritas Restaurant on King St. “Whether with spice or sauce, it’s a pleasure to taste the many personalities of soy food.”

“Soy for Life” is sponsored by SoyFoods Canada of Guelph, Ont., which represents all sectors of Canada’s soy-food industry, including soy-bean growers and suppliers, soy-food processors and distributors, as well as marketing firms involved with soy. Also taking part in the Whole Foods demo was food researcher and dietitian, Dr. Alison Duncan, an associate professor at the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Guelph. One of Dr. Duncan’s most recent research reports, published in The Journal of Nutrition, found that a diet that includes soy protein reduces serum LDL — also known as “bad” cholesterol — in adults with Type-2 diabetes, and it also reduces the risk for heart disease.

Second Edition of Canadian Restaurant Accounting Now Available
The second edition of Canadian Restaurant Accounting, prepared by Toronto-based FHG International Inc., is now available at fhgi.com and through the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA). Endorsed by the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, the CRFA is providing incentives for colleges and universities, encouraging the academic world to teach a ‘made-in-Canada’ standard, according to FHG president, Douglas P. Fisher. The book is already being used by several colleges as a study manual for restaurant accounting and internal controls.

New York City’s Low-Salt Initiative Gains Foodservice Support
Subway, Starbucks, Au Bon Pain and Uno Chicago Grill are among 16 companies that have recently pledged to voluntarily cut down on the amount of sodium in their products, as part of a national initiative aimed at reducing salt consumption by 25 per cent over the next five years. Launched in New York in January, some 18 health organizations and 29 cities, states and municipalities have announced support for the program. Voluntary pledges are being made through the National Salt Reduction Initiative (NSRI), a public-private partnership formed by the City of New York. McCain Foods, Kraft, Heinz and Unilever are among other food companies that have joined the program. NSRI is monitoring sodium levels in 25 categories of restaurant foods and 62 categories of packaged goods and, already, companies participating in the program have pledged to reduce sodium in 15 of the restaurant and 49 of the packaged food categories.

G Worldwide Announces Plans
New York City-based G Worldwide has launched the first-ever gay luxury hotel and hospitality brand across the U.S. The brand will cater to the LGBT community, their friends, families and supporters. The company says that these urban, centrally located hotels with “über high-tech facilities” will launch in five major U.S. locations over the next two years. G Worldwide will begin with properties in New York, Florida, California and Las Vegas before expanding internationally. The G Worldwide brand will officially launch promotional activities on June 1, at Gay Pride Parades across the U.S., culminating at the legendary NYC Pride extravaganza, which G Worldwide sponsors.

Accor International Marks International Earth Day
As the 40th anniversary of International Earth Day was marked on April 22, Accor North America celebrated its commitment to sustainability, energy efficiency and community service with its annual Accor Earth Guest Day. Accor’s properties in the U.S., Canada and Mexico — Sofitel, Novotel, Studio 6, Motel 6 and Ibis — encouraged employee and community involvement and raised awareness of the actions all “Earth Guests” can take to serve the planet. Earth Guest Day activities in Canada included: planting hundreds of trees at a local conservation area (through Novotels in Toronto) and the collection of linens for donation to local charity (through Novotels across the country).

In order to support Accor’s ongoing fight against child abuse and exploitation, Accor North America also initiated its company-wide support of the Amber Alert program on Earth Guest Day. The program is a voluntary partnership between law-enforcement agencies, broadcasters, transportation agencies and the wireless industry to activate an urgent bulletin in the most serious child-abduction cases. Sofitel, Novotel, Motel 6 and Studio 6 will support the Amber Alert program by notifying management at U.S. and Canadian properties of all alerts issued.  

Vivians Bid Wine Bar Adieu in Toronto
Chef and pastry chef Scott and Rachelle Vivian have packed it in at Toronto’s Wine Bar — leaving it in the hands of their former partners, Ted and Mary Koutsogiannopoulos — with plans to take over the Amuse-Bouche site at 96 Tecumseth St., reveals Toronto Life. “We’re going to rename it Beast,” Vivian told the magazine. “And, I’m not going to do a specific concept but just have good, local food in a good neighbourhood. The new space is expected to open June 9. The Vivians and Koutsogiannopoulos’ took over the restaurant from Jamie Kennedy in September.

Tomlinson Fuses with Fusion
The Cleveland-based Tomlinson Industries, which specializes in foodservice-dispensing technology, announced last week that it purchased assets of the Wauwatosa, Wis.-based Fusion Commercial. The merge means Tomlinson can offer more foodservice equipment to distributors, and customers alike, with the acquisition of Fusion-designed products like countertop pizza and snack ovens and merchandisers, popcorn poppers and carts, warmers, heat lamps and buffet servers. Tomlinson, which has local distribution and sales representation in more than 70 countries, will distribute Fusion products from their Cleveland headquarters.

Salisbury House Takes Gov’t to Court Over Tax Claims
Earl Barish and his Winnipeg-based Salisbury House of Canada Ltd. are suing the Federal and Provincial governments to recover past sales tax amounting to some $240,000, which is being held in a trust account. The trust was set up when Barish acquired the Salisbury House Restaurants, which had more than $7 million in losses, including unpaid taxes, after its former owner, The Protos Group, was put into bankruptcy in January 2006. The trust account was set up in May 2006. Salisbury House’s statement of claim, which was filed last Friday, April 30, argues that the governments were incorrect in their interpretation of sales tax law because they had insisted on being paid ahead of any other creditors and had threatened the continued viability of the company.

Sommelier Competition Returns
Sommeliers take note: the Ontario Chapter of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS Ontario) has announced plans for the 2010 Best Ontario Sommelier Competition finals. The event is scheduled for June 28 in Toronto. “The goal is to promote the role of sommelier among industry professionals and to create awareness among the general public,” said John Szabo, master sommelier. “The winner of the competition will have the opportunity to compete at the national level, then the Pan-American level and, if all goes extremely well, on to the world stage.” The biennial competition tests skills in a written examination, covering every area of the trade, followed by a service examination that tests the candidate’s ability to serve, decant, make wine and food-pairing suggestions, taste and recognize wines and spirits — all while showcasing astute professionalism. Applications and fee payments of $50 from CAPS members are due by midnight May 23 in time for the June 7 qualifying round. The location of the qualifying and final competition is yet to be announced. For further details, click here.

John Vellinga of Slava Vodka Named Dragons’ Den Viewers’ Choice Winner
John Vellinga of the Oakville, Ont.,-based Slava Vodka has been named the Dragons’ Den winning entrepreneur in the CBC show’s annual “Armchair Dragon” contest. The award was presented to Vellinga by Dragons Jim Treliving and Brett Wilson, as well as Dennis Fortnum, national leader for KPMG Enterprise. The Armchair Dragon contest allows viewers to vote on their favourite product “pitcher” from the 2009/2010 season who did not accept a deal from the Dragons. Vellinga receives $25,000 in services from KPMG Enterprise for winning the contest. More than 7,685 votes from viewers were cast over 18 episodes. “Thanks to the viewers, we entered the Dragons’ Den and came out a winner,” said Vellinga, owner of Slava Ultra Premium and Zirkova Vodkas. “Our small business is doubling sales in Ontario and the Prairie provinces, and we are on deck to enter B.C. and Quebec. This has been great for us and the award is a real honour.”

Resort Development Summit, Oct. 13 to 15, Toronto
The Canadian Resort Development Association has announced plans for its next Resort Development Summit. The event is slated to be held from Oct. 13 to 15, in Toronto. No venue has been indicated so far, but the organizers are asking the industry to save the date. For more information, click here or call (416) 960-4930.

 

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