TORONTO — Ontario’s hospitality industry gathered at Toronto’s Four Seasons hotel last night to wine, dine and celebrate success at the Ontario Hostelry Institute’s 23rd Gold Awards Dinner.

“It’s not often we get to pay tribute to an icon that has built a worldwide organization that’s sustained its roots in Toronto,” began J. Charles Grieco, OHI chair and president, when introducing the evening’s platinum gold award winner, Isadore Sharp.

Sharp thanked his staff and shared some keys to success while accepting the award. “We all feel privileged when our peers bestow an award, but this is a tribute to our nearly 40,000 Four Seasons employees worldwide,” he said. “And, of course, the essentials for success are well-known to most people — hard work, perseverance, concentration on a clear goal, belief, and, of course, enjoyment in what you’re doing. But I believe the most essential element, that underscores all other elements of success, is ethics.”

As attendees were treated to a three-course dinner by executive chef Thomas Bellec, young hospitality students and employees accepted awards during the OHI Student Awards, and the Top 30 Under 30 Awards. Vivian Fleet, sustainability coordinator at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, accepted the award on behalf of the Top 30 Under 30 recipients and showed a video clip of how the convention centre has transformed its sustainability program to include carpet recycling programs, a rooftop herb garden and an organic food digester.

The evening culminated with the Gold Awards, presented by Grieco with the help of celebrity chef Mark McEwan and acclaimed food writer Anita Stewart. The winners were David Smythe, The Lord Elgin Hotel (Hotelier); Hart Melvin, president and founder, Gelato Fresco Inc. (Supplier); Anne DesBrisay, writer (Media and Publishing); David Martin, director of the Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management-Ryerson University (Educator); Jeff Fuller, president of Joey Restaurant Group (Foodservice Chain Operator), Bob Desautels, founder of Neighbourhood Group of Companies (Independent Restaurateur), Mario Pingue Jr., GM, Niagara Food Specialties (Artisan), and Lynn Crawford, chef and co-owner; Ruby Watchco (Chef).

“Who would have thought applying at the Four Seasons in Montreal would land me in a career like this?” Crawford asked the audience, upon receiving her award. She added: “If you’re not cooking with heart, don’t do it.”

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