Food & Drink, Venues

Etc. Feb. 2014

Conference Chefs Show Their Chops

In a close results finish, executive chef Murray Hall (pictured) took the top Canadian title at this year’s International Association of Conference Centres (IACC) Copper Skillet Competition held Feb. 5 at the BMO Institute for Learning (IFL), his home turf. Hall and six other Canadian conference chefs had 30 minutes to create an entrée using two of the three mystery basket ingredients of lamb, pheasant and bulgur wheat.

Hall, in his fifth consecutive win, heads to Los Angeles to represent Canada in the international competition final March 19th. Cooking in a restaurant is one thing. Preparing meals in a conference centre setting is a whole other ball game when it comes to orchestrating service of hundreds of plates daily, all designed to meet strict budgets, multiple event needs and dietary restrictions. Scoring was based on taste, portion sizes, presentation, creativity and preparation performance. The winning dish: Balsamic glazed lamb with jalapeño jelly and curry pheasant, Asian-inspired cilantro carrot salad, red skin mashed potato and pickled asparagus.

Ice, Ice Baby

The world’s largest year-round ice lounge opens this spring at King and Bathurst. Gresham Bayley is the creator of the 3,300 sq. ft. Chill Ice House. He and Iceculture, his family’s business, have helped launch similar icy attractions in Boston (pictured) and Dubai. Everything in the lounge will be designed from ice – the furnishings, the bar, the glassware, the curtains, the chandeliers, the décor. Creative and novel uses of frozen water will include three-dimensional frozen acrylic paintings and seasonal décor such as ice goblins at Halloween.

Adjacent the 1,300 sq. ft. lounge area, which will be kept at around -5 degrees Celsius by large condensing units, will be a hidden warm room designed for a chic après ski atmosphere with barn board walls and comfy tufted couches. Here guests can doff the supplied designer parkas and gloves and enjoy a selection of Canadian tapas. Bookings for private and corporate events will be available soon.

Red Carpet Seats

Cineplex recently opened its upscale new VIP Cinemas at The Queensway, bringing its deluxe viewing venues to four across the city, nine across the country. Excellent for meetings, multimedia presentations or movie screenings, five auditoriums offer luxurious, roomy seating with thoughtful details like swivel tabletops for note taking, drinks and snacks. The smallest theatre seats 54, the largest 133.

A cozy licensed lounge with fireplace and a stylish bar invite pre- and post-screening wining and dining. In-seat hospitality service is available prior to film trailers. A private box office, reserved seating and valet parking add additional red-carpet perks. Four more VIP Cinemas are planned for existing GTA Cineplex locations including at Yonge-Dundas and Don Mills, both opening this year.