TORONTO — Approximately 500 hospitality-industry professionals gathered last week to celebrate this year’s winners of KML’s Pinnacle Awards. Known as the “Oscars of the industry,” the 31st-annual Pinnacle Awards — held at the iconic Fairmont Royal York in Toronto — honoured companies and individual who are impacting the Canadian foodservice and hospitality industry.
“This year’s winning companies are transforming and altering the foodservice and hospitality landscape one concept at a time, through creativity, innovation and entrepreneurialism,” said Rosanna Caira, editor and publisher, Kostuch Media Limited, who co-hosted the event with Ned Bell, Ocean Wise executive chef and previous Chef of the Year winner.
The event began with a sparkling-wine reception sponsored by Saputo before guests moved into the newly renovated Canadian Room for a gourmet lunch prepared by the Royal York’s executive chef JW Foster and his culinary brigade. The students from Humber College’s culinary program prepared chocolate-dipped cookies for guests to take home at the end of the event.
Following words of welcome from the event’s Diamond Sponsor, Freeman Audio Visual Canada, the awards portion of the day — featuring video tributes to each winner — began.
Quebec-based Copper Branch was Foodservice and Hospitality’s Company of the Year, while Hilton was named Hotelier’s Company of the Year.
Other category winners for Foodservice and Hospitality include Joseph Richard Group for Regional Company of the Year (West) and Balzac’s Coffee Roasters for Regional Company of the Year (East); Waterloo, Ont.-based Charcoal Group for Independent Restaurateur of the Year; and Alex Chen for Chef of the Year. Supplier of the Year honours went to Flanagan Foodservice Inc.
On the hotel side, this year’s winner of Hotelier’s Regional Company of the Year was Palm Holdings. Hotelier of the Year honours went to Edwin Frizzell, regional vice-president, Accor Central Canada and GM of Fairmont Royal York Hotel. Frizzell’s 90-year-old mother travelled from P.E.I. to witness him receiving the award. Renard International Hospitality Search Consultants — which is celebrating 50 years as an industry leader in hospitality executive search — was named Supplier of the Year.
The Rosanna Caira Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to chef John Higgins, director of Hospitality & Culinary Enterprises and culinary ambassador at George Brown College’s Centre for Hospitality & Culinary Arts in Toronto. Higgins has cooked for the Queen at Buckingham Palace, on the Royal Yacht Britannia, for heads of state in Washington and for celebrities around the world.
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.