Sept. 6, 2017, Toronto, Ont. — Kostuch Media Limited, publisher of industry magazines Foodservice and Hospitality and Hotelier, has announced its 2017 winners of the prestigious Pinnacle Awards.

Vancouver-based Browns Restaurant Group is F&H’s Company of the Year, while Sandman Hotel Group, also based in Vancouver, has been named Hotelier’s Company of the Year.

Other category winners for Foodservice and Hospitality include Aroma Espresso Bar for Regional Company of the Year; Janet Zuccarini, founder and CEO of Gusto 54 Restaurant Group for Independent Restaurateur of the Year; Langdon Hall’s Jason Bangerter for Chef of the Year; and McCain Foods for Supplier of the Year.

On the hotel side, this year’s winner of the Regional Company of the Year is Toronto-based Drake Hotel Properties. Hotelier of the Year honours go to Christophe Le Chatton, GM at the Omni King Edward Hotel. Foodbuy Canada has been chosen as the 2017 Supplier of the Year.

Over the past year, Company of the Year, Browns Restaurant Group, has been a growth powerhouse in Canadian foodservice, logging $139 million in sales in 2016 — up 32.4 per cent from 2015. “We do have a better mousetrap, I guess, because of our business/economic model, which keeps developers motivated to build,” says Bruce Fox, chief Operating officer. The company has three big projects on its radar right now as it gets set to open its largest space to date — adjacent to the new MTS Centre sports and entertainment venue in downtown Winnipeg. It will also launch the first location of the new Liberty Kitchen brand. A new downtown Vancouver flagship opportunity, built on a prominent site in front of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, rounds out the company’s growth hat-trick.

This year’s Regional Company of the Year, Aroma Espresso Bar, is celebrating 10 years since it opened its first location in Toronto. Today, there are 39 Aroma outlets in Ontario, with five more scheduled to open before the end of the year, including one at York University and another across from the Air Canada Centre. Early next year, the brand will make its first foray outside of the province, with Vancouver planned as the first stop in a western expansion.

The Independent Restaurateur of the Year award is presented to Janet Zuccarini, founder and CEO of Gusto 54 Restaurant Group, which includes Trattoria Nervosa and Gusto 101. Earlier this year, the Toronto-based company partnered with acclaimed Los Angeles chef, Evan Funke, to open a 100-seat location of Gusto 54 south of the border. It also opened Chubby’s Jamaican Kitchen in Toronto

This year’s Chef of the Year award is being presented to Jason Bangerter, executive chef at Langdon Hall Hotel & Spa in Cambridge, Ont. After training at George Brown College and cooking in kitchens across Europe, Bangerter returned to Ontario, where his relationships with local growers and producers feed his passion for fresh and approachable food.

This year’s winner of Supplier of the Year, McCain Foodservice, is a Canadian icon. The family-owned Canadian business was founded by the McCain brothers, Wallace, Harrison, Robert and Andrew, in their hometown of Florenceville, N.B. in 1957. Under Wallace and Harrison’s leadership, the company established itself quickly and grew to become the largest manufacturer of frozen French fries and potato specialties globally.

On the hotel side, Sandman Hotel Group is celebrating 50 years in the hotel industry. The company, which boasts 49 units in Canada and two in the U.K., logged estimated sales of $230 million in 2016. Sandman has approximately a dozen hotels in the pipeline, including locations in the U.S. and the U.K.

This year’s Regional Company of the Year, Drake Hotel Properties, currently owns and operates two properties — the Drake Hotel in downtown Toronto and the Drake Devonshire in Prince Edward Country, Ont. In June, the company also opened Drake Commissary, which features a 5,000-sq.-ft. production kitchen, a 140-seat dining room, a patio, a coffee and cocktail bar, a walk-in charcuterie fridge, a gelato machine, a carvery and a pasta-making station.

Christophe Le Chatton, GM at the Omni King Edward Hotel, is this year’s Hotelier of the Year. Since joining the Omni King Edward Hotel more than three years ago, Le Chatton has focused his attention and drive on restoring the glory and reputation of this special Toronto landmark. After spearheading a recent $40-million renovation that was completed in 2015, Christophe focused his energy on restoring the iconic Crystal Ballroom — a project which was completed in April.

Rounding out this year’s winners as Supplier of the Year is Foodbuy Canada, the nation’s largest procurement organization supporting the foodservice industry across North America. In 2016, the company recorded growth of 40 per cent, marking 10 years of double-digit growth. Named a Top 50 employer, Foodbuy Canada, formed in 2007, supports more than 5,000 hospitality operators in Canada.

In addition to its regular slate of Pinnacle Awards, this year, the Rosanna Caira Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Donald Ziraldo, founder of Inniskillin Wines, and now Ziraldo Winery.

“This year’s winners once again reflect the diversity and strength of the foodservice and hospitality industry,” says Rosanna Caira, editor and publisher. “In a year that celebrates Canada’s 150th birthday, it’s appropriate to shine the spotlight on these companies that have excelled in their respective categories, through a focus on innovation, creativity and Canadian spirit.”

Since introducing the first industry 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.

For more information please contact: Rosanna Caira at (416) 447-0888, ext. 224 or [email protected]

To purchase tickets to this years Pinnacle Awards click here.