TORONTO — Kostuch Media Ltd., publisher of industry magazines Foodservice and Hospitality and Hotelier, has unveiled the 2021 winners of its prestigious Pinnacle Awards. This year marks the 32nd edition of the “Oscars of the industry.”
Vaughan, Ont.-based Recipe Unlimited is F&H’s Company of the Year, while Silver Hotel Group, based in Mississauga, Ont., has been named Hotelier’s Company of the Year.
Other category winners for Foodservice and Hospitality include Ghost Kitchen Brands for Regional Company of the Year; John Sinopoli and Erik Joyal, co-founders of the Ascari Hospitality Group as Independent Restaurateurs of the Year; and Sysco Canada for Supplier of the Year.
On the hotel side, Hotelier of the Year honours go to Anne Marie Johns, general manager of the Fairmont Tremblant, while the Supplier of the Year award for Hotelier magazine is being presented to Susie Grynol, president, Hotel Association of Canada.
This year’s Pinnacle Award winners were chosen for their ability to pivot during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether through launching new concepts, implementing innovative technology solutions or championing employees and the industry, these companies proved it’s possible to not only survive, but thrive amidst challenges.
Over the past year, Company of the Year, Recipe Unlimited has risen to the challenge, launching market-kitchen concepts, and implementing employee health-and-safety programs. Earlier this year, in May, it announced a new $500,000 support package for its Ontario corporate frontline restaurant workers, which consisted of direct payments to employees who would have otherwise been laid off by the province’s latest lockdown. At the same time, and with the support of Health Canada and the Ministry of Health for the Province of Ontario, Recipe began offering Antigen rapid tests across its restaurants in Canada. On May 6, 2021, Recipe Unlimited Corporation (Recipe) completed the acquisition of Crave It Restaurant Group’s (Crave It) ownership interest in both The Burger’s Priest and the ‘Fresh – Crave It – Recipe’ joint venture for new market growth of Fresh Plant Powered (Fresh Restaurants). A few weeks later, the company launched its fourth Ultimate Kitchen multi-branded takeout-and-delivery concept.
The Regional Company of the Year, Ghost Kitchen Brands, led by founder/CEO George Kottas, made a number of strategic partnerships in 2021 as the popularity of ghost-kitchens as a means to rise above the challenges of COVID-19 continued to gain popularity. In March 2021, fast-casual salad brand Saladworks entered a deal with Ghost Kitchen Brands to double its footprint across the U.S. and Canada, promising 60 non-traditional locations in the U.S. and 30 in Canada by the end of 2021. The company, which has relationships with more than 20 well-known restaurant brands, also partnered with Walmart Canada to bring one-stop meal pickup and delivery through the giant retailer’s store network.
It was a big year for John Sinopoli, along with his partner, Erik Joyal of the Ascari Hospitality Group, who are this year’s Independent Restaurateurs of the Year. In April 2020, as the impacts of the pandemic were just beginning to be felt across Canada, Sinopoli — partner & executive chef of Ascari Hospitality Group — and Joyal co-founded SaveHospitalityCA, an advocacy group made up of more than 1,000 like-minded stakeholders across the industry, representing more than 40,000 laid off workers. Together, they created a detailed proposal for government support and lobbied all levels of government, while continuing to pivot their own restaurants to new revenue streams.
Our supplier of the year, Sysco Canada, put its customers and communities front and centre when the pandemic hit. When COVID-19 first closed restaurants in March 2020, it launched Foodies Unite, an initiative to help heal the food industry in Canada by leveraging Sysco’s supply chain to help its restaurant customers and grocery retailers adapt to the current rapidly evolving environment and provide meals to those most in need. The next month, the company Sysco Canada launched Sysco@HOME, a solution allowing consumers to purchase restaurant-quality grocery items from home. In January 2021, Sysco Canada launched a new campaign, ‘Keep Local Restaurants on the Menu,’ as part of its efforts under the Foodies Unite initiative. It has also launched Sysco Virtual Kitchen featuring podcasts providing how-to driven content to operators and chefs.
On the hotel side, Silver Hotel Group is one of Canada’s leading privately owned hotel investment, development and management companies. Under the leadership of president Deepak Ruparell, the family-owned hotel company has been growing at a fast clip. In the last two years it’s opened the Westley Hotel in Downtown Calgary, acquired The Valhalla Inn Thunder Bay and added a new JdV by Hyatt brand property, The Anndore House, in downtown Toronto to its growing portfolio. Despite its success, the company has never forgotten its roots. The Ruparell Foundation was created to promote philanthropy and to support the capabilities of philanthropic organizations in both local and international communities. These efforts are centred around promoting volunteerism through three guiding pillars which represent the core values of the Ruparell Family.
Anne Marie Johns, GM of the Fairmont Tremblant, takes home this year’s Hotelier of the Year honours. The hotelier has more than 30 years of experience in 11 hotels, three regions and two continents in the areas of sales and marketing, event management, food and beverage, catering, financial analysis and budgeting. The charismatic leader believes in a collaborative approach to running her team to optimize talent and create winning strategies. The property was recently recognized with a Condé Nast Traveler 2021 Reader’s Choice Award.
For several years now, Susie Grynol has been advocating on behalf of Canada’s hotel industry, In her role as president of the Hotel Association of Canada (HAC), Grynol — this year’s Supplier of the Year winner — has been championing the interests of the Canadian hotel industry, bringing legislative solutions to industry challenges, delivering targeted advocacy for fair rules for the sharing economy, addressing Canada’s hotel labour shortage and pursuing sustainability solutions for the hotel industry across the country. During the pandemic, under Grynol’s leadership, HAC played a central role in bringing together industry leaders to navigate these issues together.
“The KML team is thrilled to once again present our signature Awards Program, after having to postpone it last year due to the COVID pandemic,” says Rosanna Caira, editor/publisher Foodservice and Hospitality and Hotelier magazines. “This year’s crop of winners once again reflect our time-honoured tradition of excellence in various aspects of their businesses, as well as community involvement, despite the hardships and turmoil created by the pandemic.”
Since launching the first 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 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.
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