TORONTO – Ontario’s hospitality industry was celebrated last week at the annual Gold Awards presented by the Ontario Hostelry Institute. The evening featured a lineup of winners who inspired attendees with their passion and stories of success. A total of seven awards were presented in categories that ranged from Foodservice Chain of the Year to Artisan of the Year.

In accepting his award for Hotelier of the Year, Ameer Wakil credited his team of 550 associates at the White Oaks Resort in Niagara-on-the-Lake for the success he’s achieved. He also acknowledged the support of his wife and “three amazing children, who, he said always said “Dad, yes you can.”

Craig Youdale won in the Educator of the Year award, telling the audience that “We are all educating and passing on what we know to others.” Paul Hollands won in the category of Chain Operator. Hollands told audience that “the restaurant industry is the toughest to operate in. It’s an industry of 1,000 details — if you get any one of those details wrong, it can kill you.”

Chef of the Year honours went to Jason Bangerter, chef of Langdon Hall. Bangerter recalled how he entered the industry in 1994, working at Toronto’s King Edward Hotel. “I remember walking into the kitchen and asking the chef, “How do I become a great chef?” The advice clearly worked as Bangerter has achieved an illustrious career working at such restaurants as Auberge Du Pommier before landing at the highly acclaimed Langdon Hall in Cambridge, Ont. He thanked owners Bill and Mary Bennett, “for creating the most magical place.”

Chef/owner Mark Lepine from Ottawa’s Atelier Restaurant won as Independent Restaurateur of the Year. The Supplier of the Year award was given to John Bill of Honest Weight. Unfortunately, Bill who has been hospitalized in recent months, was not on hand to accept the award.

Owen Roberts, president of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists at the University of Guelph won a Gold Award in the category of media.

Lastly, Norman Hardie, who got his start as sommelier at Toronto’s Four Seasons’ Hotel, accepted his award for Artisan Supplier of the Year for developing Norman Hardie Winery and Vineyard in Prince Edward County, Ont. He told attendees “Challenge yourself, get out of your comfort zone, work in hard places…and come out with experience.” After travelling the world and learning from other great vintners, Hardie concluded by saying the “The greatest soil and terroir are right here.”


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