By Rosanna Caira

TORONTO —The foodservice and hospitalilty industry and the Canadian publishing world lost one of its icons yesterday when Mitch Kostuch, president and group publisher of Foodservice and Hospitality and Hotelier magazines, and president of TrainCan Inc., passed away suddenly at the age of 83.

Mitch was one of the industry’s most tireless supporters having purchased Foodservice and Hospitality from the Canadian Restaurant Association (CRA), precursor to Restaurants Canada, in 1974. Over the years, he was instrumental in supporting the hospitality sector as it grew from a “ma-and-pop” industry to a sophisticated  $70-billion industry; he launched  a series of firsts, including the “Hospitality 100,” precursor to today’s “Top 100 Report”.

Mitch was actively involved in promoting the industry not only through coverage in KML’s two magazines, first with Foodservice and Hospitality and then Hotelier, but also through his affiliation with numerous associations and organizations to promote the industry, especially the Canadian Federation of Chefs and Cooks, now the CCF and the World Association of Chefs Societies. He was a big advocate of Canadian cuisine long before it was trendy to be so, regularly travelling to the Culinary Olympics to support the Canadian chef teams. He also was a founding member of Cuisine Canada and a member of the Royal Order of Golden Toques. Fifteen years ago, Mitch became involved in the founding of TrainCan Inc., a food-safety training company, which has certified more than 160,000 industry employees, (sister company to Kostuch Media).

Mitch graduated from Ryerson’s Journalism program in 1952. For 17 years he worked in many capacities with Southam Business Publications, a division of Southam Press, one of the country’s biggest newspaper and magazine publishers, before leaving in 1970 to return to school. He earned his MBA from York University in 1972, becoming the first mature student to graduate from a Canadian university. Along the way, in addition to his role as magazine publisher, he was a venture capitalist, founding SB Capital and helping fund countless start-up businesses. He was a true entrepreneur in every sense of the word — a smart businessman, always looking for new ideas and new ways of doing things. But, above and beyond everything else, Mitch Kostuch was a true “gentle man” — always looking to help those in need and always looking to contribute to worthwhile causes, especially to his favourite charity, Friends of We Care. Mitch was loved by all who knew him and respected as one of this industry’s leaders.

Mitch leaves behind his children, Lynn Kostuch (David Woodfine) and Jim Kostuch (Christine Kostuch) and his grandchildren Matthew, Kristen and Jessica. He is predeceased by his wife, June, his soulmate for 46 years.

The Kostuch Media Ltd., and TrainCan, Inc., teams will miss him profoundly.

Visitation details to follow.