Archive for September, 2011

September 30, 2011

WE Day thrills Toronto as Dallas Green, Nelly Furtado draw a crowd

Nelly Furtado at WE Day 2011

Charming Nelly Furtado was more than accommodating to her young fans.

[One of the most inspirational organizations going is Free the Children and on Tuesday its annual WE Day celebrations took place at the Air Canada Centre, attracting thousands of fans and some big-name celebrities. Photographer extraordinaire Julia Pelish was on hand to take some exclusive photos. Here they are, along with her report.]

Around 18,000 students were in attendance from schools all over the Ontario region for this year’s WE Day celebrations. Students even came from as far away as Connecticut and Texas.


Julia Pelish

I was one of the many photographers who were dispersed throughout the Air Canada Centre. Posted in the “Meet and Greet” room, my assignment was to photograph the talent who participated in the event as they stopped by to meet some very lucky fans waiting for them.

The lineup was amazing and we witnessed some gracious personalities: Waneek Horn-Miller (Canadian Olympian), Rick Hansen (the legendary “Man in Motion”), Nelly Furtado (who doesn’t know of Nelly?), Dallas Green (aka City and Colour), Shawn Desman (what a dancer and charmer, the kids loved him!), Neverest (Toronto group and crowd favourite), Spencer West (inspirational speaker), Dr. Patch Adams (well known medical doctor and commedian), Mary Robinson (former president and first female leader of Ireland) as well as Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor David Onley. They all spent time posing for photos with their delighted fans.

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September 27, 2011

At Kitchener hot spot, Oktoberfest spirit never ends

Cat from Edelweiss Tavern

Cat is one of the cheery staff members working at the Edelweiss Tavern.

KITCHENER, ONTARIO — Thousands gather each fall in this city formerly called Berlin for the largest Oktoberfest celebration outside of Munich. At the Edelweiss Tavern, though, the good times go all year, thanks to owner Lorne Miller and his insistence on generous customer service.

Here are Miller’s keys to success:

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September 26, 2011

The Great Dessert Search, Edition No. 3: Crème Brûlée Shooter from Glowbal

VANCOUVER — How can you make custard with a burnt sugar top even better? Add an ounce of liquor, in the form of Crème de Cacao and Bailey’s, and you will find yourself with more than a few repeat visitors.

Creme Brulee Shooter - Glowbal Vancouver

Glowbal's signature dessert shooter is $8 worth of bliss.

That’s what’s happened with the dessert shooter at Glowbal, a Yaletown spot that’s known for its beautiful patrons and dependable food. Residents in Vancouver’s hip neighbourhood drop into Glowbal for Sunday brunch and weekend dinners, with the seafood choices changing often and usually being the highlight of the entrée selections. One of restaurant’s signature offerings, though, has nothing to do with what comes on a plate. It’s the restaurant’s signature Crème Brûlée Shooter, which I first tried in 2005 and have kept coming back for since.

The drink is usually served from Thursdays to Saturdays, with the kitchen preparing the custard and the bar staff the shot of liquor. Each serving of custard is placed on top of the liquor in a two-ounce glass. Once prepared, the glasses are slid into a refrigerator until Vancouverites come asking.


When served, diners are given a dessert spoon to crack the burnt sugar and to swirl the custard around in the liquor before throwing it back. It’s absolutely marvellous, a ticklish and decadent sensation for the mouth.

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September 26, 2011

The future according to Bruce Poon Tip

In tumultuous times, with the world economy seemingly teetering on disaster and upheaval coursing across the planet, Bruce Poon Tip’s mind leaps forward. While so many others are ruminating on the problems of today, the founder of GAP Adventures is focused on the decades ahead as he thinks about decisions that need to be made for Earth circa 2031 or so.


Bruce Poon Tip will speak Tuesday at the Future of Tourism Conference in Toronto. (Photo courtesy of GAP Adventures)

Poon Tip, leader of one of the most successful travel companies in the world and a Canadian triumph, is constantly working for bigger goals. Hence this remarkable statement about his company: “We haven’t even begun doing what I want to do.”

Consider that GAP employs more than 1,350 people globally, is the leading adventure company in the world and is a model of good corporate citizenship, and you have to wonder what Poon Tip has up his iPhone’s sleeve. On Tuesday, we will find out some of his plans, including details of GAP’s first North American tour offering.

“The Future of Tourism” conference at Toronto’s Winter Garden Theatre (189 Yonge Street) isn’t about introducing products, however. Nor is it about reveling in GAP’s success. Poon Tip is gathering industry leaders on World Tourism Day to discuss what he believes is the most important issue for the trade: How to properly deal with the anticipated boom in business that will take place in the next decade.

Despite the economic turmoil and the retrenching of pocket books in the U.S. and elsewhere, Poon Tip says travel is expected to double by 2025 and the industry needs to be ready for the growth.

“We’re going to talk about how business models and companies have to change in order to be sustainable,” he said in a phone conversation the other day. “We see extreme hot spots that aren’t prepared for it or don’t have the infrastructure to support the growth.”

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September 22, 2011

From Slovenia, hockey scholar Jason Blake writes about Canada’s passion

The author of the most thoroughly researched analysis of hockey literature you’ll ever have the delight of reading hasn’t seen a full NHL game in about 10 years. Needing a topic for his Ph.D thesis, Jason Blake recognized a lack of commentary on a subject that is ubiquitous in Canadian culture. Plus, “I had a hell of a lot of time on my hands in Slovenia and figured what the heck.”

Jason Blake - Author

Jason Blake wrote "Canadian Hockey Literature" as his Ph.D thesis.

So, from that tiny Eastern European country that has produced just one elite player, came “Canadian Hockey Literature,” a smart compilation of Blake’s observations about the game’s meaning to writers, readers and everyone else in Canada. For what has to be one of the coolest Ph.D theses ever, Blake read more than two-dozen hockey novels for adults — including “50 Mission Cap” — and “perhaps a hundred short stories.”

Published last year, “Canadian Hockey Literature” (University of Toronto Press) reveals how deeply ingrained the game is in our collective consciousness.

“It’s everywhere. Hockey shows up effortlessly, or seemingly effortlessly, in all kinds of literature. It’s something that resonates with every Canadian. Even those who don’t like hockey, or have never played it, can relate to its importance,” Blake told me during a Skype conversation the other day.

The Torontonian also noticed that the mythic moments of the game — those scenes where hockey helps bring about epiphany and meditative introspection for its characters — occur in the pastoral setting of a public rink or private frozen pond.

“You couldn’t really have those moments in organized hockey. It would just be too hard to sell to readers,” Blake said, noting the cynicism that surrounds all sports, where greed and corruption spoil any attempts to romanticize the feathering of a puck toward twine or the ardor you feel when muscle ripples down the back of your leg upon the letting go of a shot that has a chance.

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September 19, 2011

Record salmon caught at Queen Charlotte Lodge

Record Queen Charlotte Lodge Fish

This 84-pound female Chinook salmon broke a Queen Charlotte Lodge record and made one fisherman very happy.

It took 30 minutes, weighed 84 pounds and was beyond priceless for Chris Lewis — it was historic.

The Queen Charlotte Lodge guest reeled in the Chinook salmon that broke the famed fishing lodge’s 11-year-old record by more than two pounds. Located in pristine Haida Gwaii — the Galapagos of the North and one of Canada’s greatest treasures — the QCL is a delightful place run with some of the finest people you’ll find in the hospitality industry. Duane Foerter, the marketing manager at QCL, reported to me that Lewis, his fishing partner Stephen Mason and guide Derek Poitras “were fishing along the kelp just east of Klashwun Point when both rods went off in a matter of seconds.”

Mason had hooked a 31-pound Chinook while Lewis battled with his monster catch, reeling in and then letting it run for half an hour until they could force it closer to the boat.

“They could tell by the wide shoulder on the fish that this was no ordinary salmon,” Foerter wrote about the silvery fish caught on August 20 in northwest British Columbia.

Chris Lewis and his record Chinook

Chris Lewis and his record Chinook.

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September 15, 2011

KGB among best recently opened Paris restaurants

Yariv Berreby of KGB

Yariv Berreby of KGB wants to transform French cooking. (Julia Pelish photo)

[During a visit in the spring to Paris, some foodie friends were excited to take me to KGB, which turned out to be an outstanding restaurant in the Latin Quarter. Here’s an account, along with notes a few other places I dropped in on during my stay. This article was first published on the Toronto Star’s Travel site.]

PARIS — One of the most innovative young chefs in Paris happens to be an Israeli man inspired by Asia’s cuisine and culinary philosophy.

Yariv Berreby’s food at Kitchen Galerie Bis (or KGB), a recently opened restaurant near the Left Bank’s Latin Quarter, isn’t fusion or microgastronomy, he says. It’s more about what’s been happening in Paris in the past two years, which is an attempt to change traditional French food as well as the French diet.

“We don’t want people to eat until they’re so full they’re bursting,” Berreby says in his kitchen. “We want to concentrate not so much on lots of butter and cream, but on using fresh ingredients and making the experience more satisfying, not uncomfortable.”

To retain the flavour without going to the tried-and-true richness of dairy products, Berreby uses lighter ingredients and modern culinary methods, such as foam that reduces the density of sauces without removing taste from a dish.

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September 14, 2011

Want to leave your job and travel? Jeff Jung tells you how

Jeff Jung - Pushkar, camel

Jeff Jung set out to see the world. The camel ride in Pushkar was a bonus. (Photo courtesy of Career Break Secrets)

Consider the possibilities if you were Jeff Jung.

One day four years ago, he upped and left his cubicle and set out to see the world. He learned to ski, improved his Spanish to the point where he speaks it fluently and gained a perspective that has considerably altered his life.

“I met people and did things that I never would have done had I been focused on my career,” Jung told me when we spoke recently. “It affected me profoundly.”

Since taking that “break,” he’s turned into an entrepreneur who encourages people to pick up and go. Recently, he was on a tour of Canada as part of an initiative with Gap Adventures, the outstanding Toronto-based travel company owned by Bruce Poon Tip. Jung’s website,, was created to guide individuals who want to do what he did. (And, really, how many don’t?)

A survey conducted by Gap Adventures and Harris/Decima this year showed that 74 percent of Canadians would take a break from their careers in order to further their personal development through travel. (The surprise may be that it wasn’t 100 percent.)

“Once you give yourself permission to do it, it’s amazing how fast things come together,” Jung said while speaking by phone from Edmonton.

He planned his break for six months, figuring out how much he spent on a daily basis — “it was a lot more than I thought,” he said — and then cutting that total down to a level that allowed him to travel with minimal financial worry.

According to Jung, there are three parts to a career break budget:

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