KEEPING UP WITH SUSTAINABILITY : Inside the Kitchen of Canada’s Largest Hotel

With 1,590 guest rooms, Chelsea Hotel, Toronto is Canada’s largest hotel. A hotel of this magnitude requires a multifaceted approach to teamwork, involving leaders in all areas, especially in the kitchen. In addition to the hotel’s three separate dining options and large banquet/catering capabilities, the hotel works hard to keep up with sustainability.

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Executive Chef, Brian MacAskill, goes above and beyond with his menu planning and best practices, to keep his kitchen as sustainable as possible. MacAskill understands the impact that honest, fresh ingredients can have on the environment and on the palate, and has been active in promoting the use of local foods during his career.

During one of the busiest times of the year (tour season) at the hotel, Market Garden, the culinary hub serves (on average) up to 800 breakfasts in 4 hours/day, that’s over 20,000 breakfasts a month! During these peak periods, the kitchen will go through 1000lbs of eggs a week and 100lbs of bacon a day.

MacAskill strives to bring his values into his kitchen and to maintain a bond to Canadian farmers as best as he can, but this is not an easy task on such a large scale. While he tries to incorporate as many local products into his menus, it poses as a challenge to keep all ingredients “local” in the way people envision “local” to be.

He describes the hotel’s version of local to be “industrial local”. Meaning, local, Canadian ingredients are still being used responsibly, they are just not hand picked; in fact, it can be argued that industrial local makes a larger impact because of the quantity consumed. At the hotel the essentials are always Canada’s best: the butter, milk, canola oil and eggs, to name a few. It takes great skill and knowledge to keep such a large kitchen sustainable. MacAskill prides himself in his ability to source local ingredients and when given the task of preparing a unique menu for a special event, these abilities truly shine. 

Now, that’s not to say the local connection is non-existent. MacAskill works hard at building personal connections with Canadian farmers, some examples of fostered relationships and products used are:

Sustainability is about finding ways of providing food that will support future generations and have less of an impact on the environment, a journey that the hotel strives to improve year over year.

Some additional ways the kitchen works to improve their sustainability and environmental footprint are:

Composting - during the food preparation, all food scraps go into green bins to be composted. When plates come back from functions; food, garbage and recyclables get separated.

Oil disposal - all stewards have training on proper use of chemicals to avoid water contamination; oil is never poured down drains. Wardlaw’s Poultry Farm picks up oil waste to dispose of it properly.

For more information on the dining options at Chelsea Hotel, Toronto visit them here.

2019 Hawksworth Young Chef Scholarship applications open

We’re excited to once again be partnering with The Hawksworth Young Chef Scholarship competition, now in its seventh year.

Applications for the 2019 competition are officially open, kicking off Canada’s largest search to find the future stars of the culinary scene. Established in 2013, the Foundation looks forward to continuing its work encouraging aspiring young chefs from across the country by giving them the opportunity to showcase their cooking skills in front of an esteemed panel of chefs and critics. The winner will take home the grand prize of $10,000 and a placement at one of the top restaurants in the world – giving them the inspiration and opportunity needed to develop their professional skills.

Regional heats will be held in Calgary, Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto throughout May. The Scholarship’s founder and owner of Hawksworth RestaurantNightingale and Bel Café, Chef David Hawksworth, will be joined by leading chefs from across Canada to select the winner.

Past judges for the competition have included Chef Normand Laprise of Toqué and Brasserie T, Chef Marc-André Royal of Le St-Urbain and La Bête à Pain, Chef Chris Stewart of Donnelly Group, Chef Grant van Gameren of Bar RavalBar IsabelRosalinda and Quetzal, Chef Luciano Monosilio of Pipero Roma (1-Michelin Star) and Chef Mark McEwan of The McEwan Group.

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“Each year I am blown away by the caliber of our competitors and, moving into our seventh year, I am confident that 2019 will prove no different,” says scholarship founder Chef David Hawksworth. “Thanks to the generous support of our judges, our sponsors and the culinary community, we have been able to help countless young chefs start promising careers of their own – I look forward to meeting this year’s group of aspiring young chefs.”

Following last year’s Toronto finals, this year’s final event will be held in Vancouver in October when one deserving chef will take home the grand prize of $10,000, an international cooking stage, a range of sponsor gifts and the bragging rights to being named Canada’s most talented young chef.

Deadline for applications is Monday, March 11, 2019.


For more information and to apply, please visit:

Top 5 things we can’t wait to experience at the 2019 RC Show


It’s almost that time of year again! The 2019 RC Show is just around the corner, and with it comes the opportunity to network, learn, grow – and eat and drink of course. This year the show will be exploring all things sustainability, and you bet we’ll be there exploring with them. Here is everything we can’t wait to see, do and sample at the 2019 RC Show.

1.       Sustainable Drink Session

Our Terroir Team is moving full speed ahead aboard the zero-waste train, but there is so much left to learn, which is why we can’t wait to attend this workshop.

Iain Griffith and Kelsey Ramage, the Co-founders of Trash Collective, will be leading a session all about zero-waste beverages and how putting conscious bartending into practice and executing a little creativity can help save on costs and lower waste. Trash Tiki anyone?

2.       Learning Lounge: Mental Health in the Workplace

In keeping constant with the themes we will be exploring at the 2019 Terroir Symposium, this topic hits close to home. This session will provide resources and guidance to help managers respond to mental health issues they may encounter. Participants will learn how to respond to mental health problems and encourage a psychologically safe workplace culture.

3.       Restaurant of the Future

The Restaurant of the Future is a fully immersive restaurant activation that has been constructed to showcase how you can make sustainable efforts in both Front-of-House and Back-of-House. The restaurant will feature repurposed furniture, low-impact lighting and surfaces, and energy efficient equipment. Bringing the experience to life will be an all day café menu with sustainable bites like seaweed brownies, purple corn & banana chips, and blueberry coconut power bars.

And if that wasn’t engaging enough, there will also be sessions exploring the latest in hologram technology and the future of service as Autonetics Universe presents their programmable robots (yes!! Robots!!).

4.       The entire Ontario Pavilion

RC said it themselves – we are loco for local! Expect to be wowed by culinary offerings celebrating local, including Best of FoodSTOCK curated by Feast On®, and indigenous culinary demo, and the Best Ontario Veal Sandwich Competition hosted by Food Network Canada's John Cattuci.

5.       Coffee in Good Spirits

A competition celebrating two industry staples: coffee and spirits. Competitors will craft two cocktails incorporating the two – their take on the classic Irish Coffee, as well as a signature beverage. We can’t wait to see what they shake up! 

Calling all foodservice professionals!
Join us at Enercare Centre from Feb 24-26, 2019 in Toronto for the hospitality event of the year.

The sweet story behind Pluck Tea's new Honey Chai

Sometimes, all it takes to make local food magic is for the right people to meet. Creating foods with thoughtful purpose – foods you can feel good about buying and eating – is all about partnerships. It’s how communities are built, how identities are reaffirmed and how our local food system flourishes.

Those are the stories we’re most excited to hear. Stories like that of Jennifer Commins at Pluck Tea and her search for the perfect cuppa chai.

Since founding Pluck Tea in 2012, Jen Commins has brought tea out of your grandma’s kitchen and back onto the menu at top Toronto restaurants.

A proud supporter of local food, Jen is always looking for new and delicious things to integrate into her award winning teas. It’s one of many reasons we’re thrilled to have her join the conversation on innovation and sustainably on the 2019 Terroir stage.

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When the team at Jimmy’s Coffee – a Toronto coffee institution – approached her to create five custom blends for their shops, she knew she wanted to integrate some local flare.

Back at the ‘Pluck Lab’ – where all Pluck Teas are hand-blended and packaged; the team created four signature blends aptly named Stewart Earl Grey, Henson Green Tea, Buffet Herbal Tea and Matcha, but knew they needed a chai.

Chai typically refers to a blend of black tea and aromatic spices like cinnamon and black pepper. Honey chai, a kicked up version that’s tossed in flavourful honey is a particularly delicious treat that Jen and the team had set their sites on creating.

The name “chai” is actually the Hindi word for “tea”, which was derived from “cha”, the Chinese word for “tea”.

It’s harder than it seems though. “You need to heat the honey to just the right temperature to not loose all the healthy benefits but still get it liquid enough to evenly coat all the spices” said Jen on our recent visit to the lab.

How did they do it? Patience, science and a cement mixer.

With the process perfected, Jen wanted to find a local honey supplier who mirrored her commitment to local, sustainable food. Enter Peter and Sarah Chorabik at Ontario Honey Creations.

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Ontario Honey Creations harvests honey sourced from bees re-homed by Toronto Bee Rescue. It’s a family-run affair. Peter runs the bee rescue that relocates bees at risk of extermination found on private property. Once the colony passes their health check and are re-homed in new hives, the bees produce honey for their honey company Ontario Honey Creations where Sarah and their kids create honey products. They have hives all over the GTA full of buzzing, happy, re-homed bees.

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Jen blends their delicious honey with freshly ground whole spices and directly traded, premium black tea leaves. As an added bonus, because honey is a nature’s preservative, the freshly ground spices and tea leaves are kept fresh and flavourful for many months!

Try this unique tea at a Jimmy’s Coffee location near you or snag a bag online at

Responsible Service with Smart Serve

We are proud to partner with Smart Serve Ontario for Terroir 2018 to ensure safe and responsible service of all of our wines, beer and unique cocktails.


Smart Serve's primary goal is to be an advocate to help change the culture and behaviour of all who take part in the sale, service and consumption of beverage alcohol. They put this into action through education & training, communication and strategic partnerships.

Their efforts are to ensure that the message of responsible alcohol consumption is considered and understood by the broader public including university and college students. Smart Serve maintains their position in the hospitality sector by providing bursaries to hospitality students across Ontario.

Smart Serve also plays a vital role in making Ontario a safer community with their online and in-class certification program. Join the community here!

After the Symposium is The After Party


How could we possibly fit all of that Terroir fun into one day? Answer: We can’t! After the Symposium, we continued the good times at The Walrus Pub & Beer Hall right in the heart of downtown Toronto.

We can’t say enough about this venue and its owners, The Donnelly Group.

They’ve created a proper pub that has us salivating at their many craft beers on tap, classic & unique cocktails and tasty food with a modern twist. And if that’s not enough, they’ve created a modern, progressive space that is perfect for any occasion, complete with pool table, shuffle board and live music!


With Chef Rory McGouran at the helm, we were delighted by the array of snacks that we got to indulge in. Here's just a taste of the elevated pub bites we tried:

  • Chickpea Fried Squid with Tobiko Spicy Mayo & Candied Lemon Gremolata
  • Ontario Beef Tartar on Crostini
  • Mushroom Toast
  • Smoked Salmon Rillettes with Horseradish Fermented Cream, Pickled Shallot and Everything Bagel Crumble

Similar to their location on Ossington Avenue, The Walrus will soon be opening a Barber & Co alongside a ping pong bar & cafe beneath the pub in early June. So much room for activities!

If you didn’t get a chance to stop by for The After Party, we urge you to hit Bay Street for an after-work cocktail and snack!