The awards, presented by the Ontario Hostelry Institute, were handed out in six categories, including Foodservice Chain Operator (Cora Tsouflidou, Cora’s); Hotelier (Tony Cohen, Global Edge Investments); Independent Restaurateur (Frederic Geisweiller, Le Select, Toronto); Educator (Julian Christensen Hughes, University of Guelph); Chef (Stephen Treadwell, Treadwell Farm to Table Cuisine); and Media (Jody Dunn, Food & Drink magazine). In accepting her Chain Operator award, Tsflidou thanked her team, stressing that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. She quipped: “If you don’t have time to prepare it, make sure you let my team do it for you.” Cohen, who won as Hotelier of the Year, stressed the importance of following your passion, while Geisweiller thanked the restaurateurs who went before him, paving the way for the success today’s restaurateurs are enjoying.
Additionally, a new award category was created to celebrate the achievements of artisans. The inaugural award was won by Stephanie Purdy of Purdy Fisheries. “The artisan award honours the story of real food life of Ontario,” said Anita Stewart, culinary activist, and a member of the selection committee the OHI. “In those early days, artisans laid a magnificent foundation, some of which we can still glimpse. It is this multi generational spirit that strikes one first when Purdy Fisheries is mentioned. We live rich beyond belief in a province with farmers and fishers who stock the food basket that feeds the most heavily populated part of Canada.”
A highlight of the evening was the presentation of two special awards — the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Chairman’s Award. This year, the former was presented to John Walker in recognition of his years of passion, dedication and innovation as dean at the Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts at George Brown College, as well as his leadership and mentorship in professional education. In presenting the award, Charles Grieco, chair of the OHI, said, “You have helped shape Ontario and Canada’s modern hospitality industry that will continue to influence its future in the coming years.” Anita Stewart was this year’s recipient of the Chairman’s Award “in recognition of her dedication and passion for the world of Canadian food and hospitality and her creative role in it. You are one of the very few people who understands our food and its smallest local nuances,” said Grieco. Stewart is a recent recipient of the Order of Canada.
The OHI also presented 10 fellows of the OHI, and acknowledged this year’s crop of Top 30 under 30 winners. Funds raised through the evening’s Live and Silent Auction promote growth and excellence in the hospitality industry through scholarships and professional development awards.
The evening’s festivities marked the last gala to be held at the Four Seasons Yorkville, as it closes its doors next week in preparation for the hotel’s move to its new location on Bay and Scollard streets in Toronto. The new location is slated to open in July.