TORONTO — Close to 500 guests came together Friday at Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York Hotel to kick off the holiday season and fête the winners of Kostuch Media Ltd.’s 29th annual Pinnacle Awards.
The iconic property sparkled with holiday cheer as emcees Rosanna Caira, KML’s editor and publisher, and chef Vikram Vij handed out the “Oscars” of the hospitality industry. Following a sparkling-wine reception, sponsored by Saputo, guests enjoyed a menu created by the hotel’s executive chef Robert Mills and his team.
To kick off the event, the winners of KML’s year-long Made in Canada photo contest, sponsored by Garland Canada, FRHI, McCain Foodservice, Flanagan Foodservice and Saputo, were unveiled. Selected by a panel of judges, twelve photographers were awarded Experience Canada prize packages for their submissions of uniquely Canadian ingredients, landmarks, chefs, hotel properties and restaurants. Prizes included airfare, hotel stays and meals at some of Canada’s most iconic properties coast-to-coast.
Vancouver-based Browns Restaurant Group, which logged $139 million in sales in 2016, took home the coveted F&H Company of the Year title. Sandman Hotel Group, which is celebrating 50 years in the hotel industry, garnered Hotelier’s Company of the Year honours.
Other category winners for Foodservice and Hospitality included Aroma Espresso Bar for Regional Company of the Year; Janet Zuccarini, founder and CEO of Gusto 54 Restaurant Group for Independent Restaurateur of the Year; Langdon Hall’s Jason Bangerter for Chef of the Year; and McCain Foods for Supplier of the Year.
On the hotel side, Toronto-based Drake Hotel Properties accepted the award for Regional Company of the Year. Hotelier of the Year Christophe Le Chatton, GM at the Omni King Edward Hotel and Supplier of the Year Foodbuy Canada rounded out the winners.
In addition to its regular slate of Pinnacle Awards, this year, the Rosanna Caira Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Donald Ziraldo, founder of Inniskillin Wines and now Ziraldo Estate Winery. The crowd took a moment to acknowledge the recent passing of Ziraldo’s friend, former business partner and wine industry pioneer, Karl Kaiser, who passed away Nov. 22.
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.