TORONTO — More than 500 guests gathered last week at Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York Hotel to celebrate the winners of Kostuch Media Ltd.’s 30th-annual Pinnacle Awards.
Upon arrival, attendees were treated to a sparkling-wine reception, sponsored by Saputo, before enjoying a menu created by the hotel’s executive chef J.W. Foster and his team.
Carol Johnston of Parmalat Canada and Heidi Welker of Freeman Audio Visual Canada — both long-time sponsors of the Pinnacle Awards — welcomed guests to the special anniversary addition of the awards, congratulating this year’s winners. To kick things off, emcees Rosanna Caira, KML’s editor and publisher, and Janet Zuccarini, founder and CEO of Gusto 54 Restaurant Group, recounted the prestigious event’s 30-year history.
Quebec-based MTY Group, which has grown its diverse restaurant portfolio to more than 70 brands, took home the award for Foodservice and Hospitality Company of the Year. Group Germain, which grew its national hotel portfolio to 17 hotels under three original brands, garnered the title of Hotelier’s Company of the Year.
Other category winners for Foodservice and Hospitality included Pizza Nova for Regional Company of the Year; Liberty Entertainment Group’s Nick Di Donato for Independent Restaurateur of the Year; and Grant van Gameren for Chef of the Year. SkipTheDishes was named Technology Company of the Year.
On the hotel side, this year’s winner of the Regional Company of the Year is Mississauga, Ont.-based Manga Hotels. Hotelier of the Year honours go to Robert Housez, GM at The Chelsea Hotel, Toronto. Supplier of the Year honours go to Destination Canada.
In addition to its regular slate of Pinnacle Awards, this year, the Rosanna Caira Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Bus Fuller, the legendary restaurateur behind three of Western Canada’s leading chains, Earls, Joey Restaurants and the Cactus Club. Fuller received a standing ovation from the crowd following his acceptance speech, during which he called winning the award “the pinnacle of his career.”
Since introducing the first industry award in 1988, Foodservice and Hospitality has honoured a diverse group of leaders for their continued success and achievements, representing every facet of the industry, from upscale restaurants to quick-service chains. Each of this year’s winners are distinguished for their contributions to the image of the industry through civic, educational and community involvement, as well as their efforts in establishing innovative concepts in foodservice or hotel management. Past winners include George Cohon of McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada Ltd.; The TDL Group; Starbucks Canada; Donald Ziraldo and Karl Kaiser of Inniskillin Wines Inc.; and Four Seasons Hotels founder, Isadore Sharp.
Hotelier magazine’s first annual Hotelier of the Year award, representing similar achievement in the hotel industry, was presented in 1994 to hotel executives Robert DeMone, Canadian Pacific Hotels & Resorts; Michael Beckley, Commonwealth Hospitality; and Simon Cooper, Delta Hotels & Resorts.