Monthly Archives: August 2015

DSC09784

Walk the aisles of INCENTIVEWORKS Trade Show with me!

Every  August, the Canadian meetings, events and hospitality industries get together for their “high holiday” known as INCENTIVEWORKS, hosted by Meetings Canada in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Each year, I find myself amongst sales and marketing folks from across the country and around the world, representing hotels, caterers, spas, airlines, resorts and meeting venues as well as incentives companies (these are the folks who create all those logo’d merchandise or give-aways companies use to spread their brand i.d.). And I must say, this year was THE best show in a number of years. Fabulous, super tasty food samples courtesy of celebrity chefs and chi-chi poo-poo caterers and restaurants were the star attractions this year – over the past several years, all we got were dessert samples or chocolates & candies so after a couple of hours of trade show floor-walking, you’d get one hell of a sugar headache. But this year…damn! we enjoyed menu samples of meat, seafood, more meat and crisp fresh salads. Bravo, Incentiveworks exhibitors…you listened to our pleas and hit it outta the park! (all available weblinks for exhibitors at end of blog)

Accompanied by my trusty social media safari guide and photographer, Gabriella Luchetta, I first stopped in on old friend Chef Massimo who oversees several leading kitchens in the Niagara region as well as being a best selling cookbook author (although I’m “domestically challenged” I’ve actually been able to make some of his awesome recipes). Yummmm, he served such deelish and healthful treats yesterday (below)

First on my tasting hit-list was Chef Massimo, who oversees several leading kitchens in the Niagara region, who served  up deelish and healthful treats

DSC09727Next stop, Halifax! So I’ve never been able to stomach scallops before…had them once many years ago and they made me so ill. Probably undercooked, I do remember they were quite slimey. So I was a bit nervous when I was offered fresh scallops from the always-cheery Halifax reps. But oh my, the fragrance coming up from the frypan..mmmm. I couldn’t resist and I am so pleased I indulged….they were amazing. (below)

DSC09776 DSC09803 DSC09801Across the aisle was Chef Events Culinary Entertainment (below) and their great big firetruck converted into a food truck – the food was spectacular. Even their vegetarian offering, stuffed mushroom caps, was awesome.

DSC09755 DSC09750Great to see Sheena Wood of Simply the Best catering and events (below) who also fed us well with tasty hors d’oeuvres.DSC09819Next, Modus Ristorante of Toronto offered delicate prosciutto wraps and salsa salad spoons. (I really wish these blogs offered “scratch and taste” links for you to enjoy this with me…LOL)

DSC09822Here’s Nota Bene, who teased my tastebuds with crunchy salmon sandwiches and risotto balls…

DSC09885

DSC09883…and Oro spoiled us all with these artful nibblies (below). Is your mouth watering yet?

DSC09896 DSC09905My Yorkville neighbours, Mistura, caught my eye and my mouth, too, with these treats (below)

DSC09920 DSC09917I was suddenly attracted to a bright shiny thing across the aisle…..oooh, a man, a god even! Caesar’s Casino Windsor really knows how to attract attention and I was like a moth to a flame. After posing with my golden boy, I enjoyed their hospitality and Gabriella and I watched their mixologist craft a cocktail brew fit for an emperor.
DSC09924

Photo 2015-08-19, 12 42 32 PM

DSC09943 DSC09960Belly dancing anyone? The Berber Lounge booth (below) looked lush and exotic…and so was the mint tea, thank you.

DSC09959 DSC09996Gabriella and I took some time out for a little wacky fun playing with some silly props (below) and Instagramming our pics out for the vendor. We both won selfie sticks for our efforts (poor Gabs got home to find hers didn’t work so I guess I owe her mine as a thank you for working so hard)

Photo 2015-08-19, 1 17 22 PMThen it was over to Ripley’s Aquarium booth for a quick dip where we became shark bait!

img276

Photo 2015-08-19, 2 07 11 PMOkay, back to business ladies! The Welcome to Regina booth served up sweet cupcake pops (below)….DSC00154….and a big howdy to the cowgirls from Tucson, AZ (below). Thanks for the packs of cactus jellies, too.DSC00248The charming Montreal booth hosts were distributing a custom cola so both Gabs and I now have old school bottles of the elixir du Montreal.

DSC00023We strolled past the stunning Barbados booth where the lady looked a bit lonely but oh so pretty sitting in front of that giant seaside mural. Then Gabs and I listened to some great contemporary violin courtesy of this pretty, talented musician (below).

DSC00276 DSC09708Here’s Mike D’Urzo! I love this guy, one of the most charming and talented magicians and corporate entertainers in da biz. He always has a smile for everyone and his illusions are quite unbelievable…I’ve given up trying to figure out all the tricks and prestidigitation (my BIG word of the day!!).

DSC00200You can tell by the ridiculous grin on my face how thrilled I was to personally meet one of my favourite Canadian artists – Andrew King. Andrew was the special guest of the Ottawa booth where he was painting live during the show. His work is imaginative, colourful and full of life and humour….check it his currently available work via this link: http://bit.ly/1K9PLS0

DSC00039While in Ottawa (!) we enjoyed some fresh brewed tea, courtesy of Andrew Horsfield of the Lord Elgin Hotel (below). Mr. H. gave Gabs and me shiny red thermos mugs with a tea infuser inside, too. Thanks…we both really needed these.

DSC00054Daniel and Nicole (below) from the Watermark Beach Resort in Osoyoos, BC were 2 of the friendliest reps we met. Guess that west coast vibe works even way up north, eh? Thank you for your hospitality and I definitely hope to drop in soon to see just how wonderful Osoyoos is for myself.

DSC00133Time for more food and drinkies…..

DSC00145 DSC00166…and even more drinkies over at the Shangri La Hotel booth, this time, tho, it was refreshing Morocan iced tea infused with mint and passionfruit. Aaaaaah.

DSC00158 DSC00160We met this cool guy, Stuart Brown of TSE – no, not the Toronto Stock Exchange – he’s actually from The Scotch Experience! He does special Scotch tastings and pairings…and he “paired” his samples here with dark chocolate truffles. Gabs and I left with our chubby little hands full of ’em, too. LOL!

DSC00184Sue Williamson (below) welcomed us to the Kempenfelt Conference Centre (Barrie, ON) booth. I can’t believe I haven’t visited this wonderful property yet. Gonna have to change that real soon.

DSC00002Alain Paquette and Alain Stoopen of Smash Events were offering samples of a very smooth Mexican liquor that I thoroughly enjoyed. Thanks, amigos, all hail the agave!

DSC00224 DSC00225I got the need…the need for speed! Woohoo, I got to hang with Maverick at the Top Swag/BrandBlvd. booth and even scored some aviator specs and dogtags. Remember those day back when Tom Cruise was such a stud? Here I am in the “danger zone” with my cardboard cut-out Tommy boy.

DSC00066 DSC00073OMG, it’s Shaun the Sheep…or not. Here we are at the Icebreaker booth (below), doing the feely-touchy with the stylish clothing made from NZ merino wool. I scored a pair of soft fuzzy socks for Gabs, too.

DSC00094 DSC00102Time for another chocolate break, this time courtesy of Succulent Chocolates and Sweets. Hand-painted custom chockies, giant logo’d bars, all sorts of sweeties and treats (below).

DSC00188 DSC00189Uncommon Canada had the cutest give-aways…blue, white or grey baby seal keychains with eyes that lit up when you pressed a wee button on their backs as well as making little seal bark sounds. Cute fluffy polar bears, too.

DSC00120Gabriella got into the selfie thing and tooks some great pics in this mirror. Photo 2015-08-19, 2 08 43 PMOkay, time for a nice rest so I sat down in the FOS Design Centre booth and enjoyed the stunning furniture and decorations. I felt like Joan Collins in Dynasty…gimme those damned padded shoulders! I was joined on the silver couch byAnna Rinomata, their event designer. Don’t we look simply maaahvelous?!DSC00202 DSC00209Almost time to say goodbye…just a few more snapshots of a great Incentiveworks. Hope you enjoyed this virtual tour. I encourage you to check out the websites listed below for information on these exhibitors.

DSC00106 DSC09712 DSC09761

www.incentiveworksshow.com

Vendor weblinks:

www.massimocapra.com

www.chefevents.ca

www.simplythebestevents.ca

www.modusristorante.com

www.notabenerestaurant.com

www.orarestaurant.com

www.mistura.ca

www.lordelgin.ca

www.caesarswindsor.com

www.watermarkbeachresort.com

www.uncommoncanada.com

www.berberlounge.ca

www.thescotchexperience.com

www.kempenfelt.com

www.brandblvd.ca

www.fosdecor.com

http://www.succulentchocolates.com/

www.icebreaker.com

 

ana-rucner-720x320px-Canada_banner

New Toronto music promoter to introduce Croatian superstar ANA RUCNER Sept. 27th

I’m thrilled to introduce my new client, Katica Visic, founder of Cronnexion Entertainment + Events, who specializes in world-renowned talent from her home country of Croatia.  Katica, or Kathy as she tells her Toronto friends to call her, is already teaching me so much about Zagreb and Dubrovnik (pictured below), and how the cities are vibrant, modern centres for the arts, education and commerce, not just picturesque quaint holiday spots that many of us still assume is the norm.

Dubrovnik, known as the Pearl fo the Adriatic and a World Heritage site.

Dubrovnik, known as the Pearl of the Adriatic, and a World Heritage site.

Zagreb

Zagreb

The new high-tech Zagreb arena for sports and entertainment

The new high-tech Zagreb Arena for sports and entertainment

I recently sat down with Kathy and asked her to share her story about launching her new music promotions company, the Sept. 27th concert with internationally renowned cellist Ana Rucner at Mississauga’s Living Arts Centre, and about her future plans for introducing more talented Croatian artists to Canadian audiences.

What inspired you to bring in cellist Ana Rucner for a single concert in Toronto/Mississauga?
I am a proud Croatian and I enjoy sharing my love for my culture with others, to which my friends and colleagues will attest. The first time I heard Ana play, I was incredibly moved. She put my two loves together – Croatia and music. Her music sums up what it means to be Croatian and coincides with my company’s belief of “Sharing Our Culture with the World”. 

Ana Rucner

Ana Rucner

She may not be known to North American audiences but can you talk about Ana’s fame throughout Croatia and the rest of the world?
Her unique style has taken her all over the world and she has played in over 30 countries. Wherever she plays, she is always invited back. What’s interesting about Ana is her intense passion for the cello and for live performance. In her own words, she’s found an instrument that “breathes with her” and this is seen on stage through her spontaneous and energetic performances.

more cello pinkYou recently formed Cronnexion Entertainment & Events to produce Ana’s show and have plans to bring in other Croatian artists. How challenging has this new business launch been for you?
Although I’ve been involved in organizing concerts for many years, launching my own venture has been an exciting experience filled with steep learning curves. Growing a new business is a difficult and somewhat lonely journey but that being said, I have been given valuable assistance and guidance from numerous established entertainment organizations, a great publicist (I’m blushing) and have learned a lot more about the wonderful and enthusiastic Croatian community here in Toronto.

KATHY VISIC, Founder of Cronnexion Entertainment + Events

KATHY VISIC,  Founder of Cronnexion Entertainment + Events

So you’ve received support from the Ontario Croatian community – can you share some of the people/organizations who are offering assistance?
I’ve received a great deal of support and encouragement from the Croatian National Tourist Board and the Zagreb Tourist Board, as well as from the Croatian Embassy and the Consul General of Croatia in Mississauga.  I’m also very grateful to local Canadian-Croatian businesses and radio stations for their promotional efforts and so many of my friends who are sharing information about Ana’s concert via social media.

With so many summer music festivals and concerts featuring rock, hip-hop and country artists, do you think audiences are ready to embrace Ana’s more classical repertoire, especially with her adding many contemporary pieces played in her “rockstar-like” stage style?
Absolutely! Her repertoire is vast and her energetic stage presence makes it easy to engage audiences with her unique blend of classical, contemporary and world music.

Ana performing LIVE in Croatia

Ana performing LIVE in Croatia

How do we buy tickets for Ana’s concert?
All information plus the link to ticket purchasing is here: https://www.facebook.com/events/358031511056654/

Where can we hear/see Ana perform online prior to her concert in September?
Ana has lots of YouTube videos available online so I encourage everyone to log on and enjoy the music and the videos: www.youtube.com/user/AnaRucner

Coming up over the next 12-18 months, you have other exciting Croatian artists coming into Toronto – can you offer us any hints or tease us with names who these performers may be?
I am communicating with other artists and local venues, but have yet to finalize any dates. All I will say is that these artists are famous in the European pop/club music scene. Also, a full North American tour is being planned for Ana for 2016-17 so please follow me on social media to get the latest news.

How can we follow Cronnexion and Ana?
https://www.facebook.com/cronnexion
https://twitter.com/cronnexion
http://anarucner.com
https://www.facebook.com/ana.rucner?fref=ts
https://twitter.com/anarucner

Thanks to Kathy for inspiring me to research Croatia – here are a few sites that may interest YOU in learning more about this wonderful country:
Croatian National Tourist Board:  http://croatia.hr/en-GB/Homepage
Zagreb Tourist Board:  http://www.zagreb-touristinfo.hr/&lang=en
Croatian Embassy in Ottawa:  http://ca.mvep.hr/en/

Zagreb

20150806_171951

MORE EXCITING POP-ART….THIS TIME BY TORONTO’S OWN STEPHEN TRICANICO

Another fabulous artist’s reception at Urban Gallery tonight – the launch of their August show “Left Brain, Right Brain” by 24yr old Toronto abstract expressionist/pop artist Stephen Tricanico (below)

20150806_172054Stephen spent the last year allowing himself to have a heightened focus on waking up and creating every day which resulted in the works shown in this new exhibition.

Artist statement:   With the pop works, I was trying to create a visual reinterpretation of plays on words and poetry, having pieces based on thoughts I once had. The abstracts result from wanting to do something based on a feeling, allowing the work to satisfy my left and right brain, and hopefully the viewers as well.

20150806_172225 20150806_171943 20150806_172244

20150806_171959The growing crowd of art aficionados that filled the gallery seemed to agree – these were exciting and provocative works. Congrats to Urban Gallery for introducing this talented artist.

20150806_172305 20150806_172232I met up with two of the charming gallery assistants from the Andy Warhol exhibit at Revolver Gallery’s Bloor St pop-up (see previous blog story). Meet Valeria (below L) and Lily (below R) who came out to see Stephen’s work.

20150806_175741Below, the fabulous Paddy Reagan (left) enjoyed schmoozing with Urban Source Catering’s Wayne Abell (right)

20150806_172602And the oh so sassy ladies below are KJ Mullins, Publisher of Newz4U.net (left) and Urban’s own gallery goddess Kaspara Albertsen (right)

20150806_172749Even “her Maj” put in an appearance….“you want fries with that, Liz?”

20150806_172132There were lots more cutie pies…..

20150806_172202 20150806_172359…and I really liked Stephen’s abstracts, esp. this real dope piece!

Stephen’s show “Left Brain, Right Brain” runs until August 29th and you can check out more details on Urban Gallery’s website: www.urbangallery.ca  

Gallery hours:
Noon to 5pm Monday through Saturday
Noon to 8pm Thursdays
Closed Sundays & Holidays
Viewings outside gallery hours by appointment

?

ANDY WARHOL: REVISITED

It was Saturday afternoon of this long weekend…I was bored, wandering around Yorkville just window shopping and bemoaning the fact that I had no “play money” (it’s rent weekend, big phone & internet bills to pay…blast it) I then suddenly remembered…Warhol! Yes, there’s a pop-up gallery that’s taken over the old Guess boutique space on Bloor St just west of Bay, featuring paintings and prints from the most prolific and important artist of the 60’s and 70’s…Andy Warhol.20150801_143915Most people have seen his “Marilyn Monroe” series at least one time or another and yes, she’s there in all her glory, but there are also many other brilliantly coloured works of art featuring political leaders, royalty and society mavens, as well as his advertising images, paintings of Hollywood divas and cartoon characters…all are represented in the space, thanks to Ron Rivlin’s Revolver Gallery.

One  jaw-dropping image that stopped me in my tracks almost as soon as I walked in was a painting I was not familiar with…Red Lenin (below).  This bright red image looms large over one section of the gallery and I felt pulled right in to his eyes – quite hypnotic.20150801_143644Next to Lenin is this gorgeous Alexander the Great painting (below) which I was also unfamiliar with.

20150801_143652Then there were the socialites, the men who made million$ and spent million$, who supported Andy with commissions and entertained him at chi-chi soirees and Club 54 (below). I surprised myself by recognizing many of the names…then realized how damned old I am that I actually remember who these guys were!!

20150801_143856I had forgotten Andy’s “wild west” series that included Geronimo, Col. Custer, Sitting Bull and “The Duke” who took centre spot on this wall (below). The portrait of Teddy Roosevelt, tho, looked disturbingly like Robin Williams in Night at the Museum but I soon realized just how important an artist Warhol was, considering major movie stars still fashion their on-screen characterizations after his work.

20150801_143843Muhammad Ali was there, as were Judy Garland and Ronald Reagan…even Uncle Sam and the Wicked Witch of the West are on display….

20150801_143716 20150801_143803 20150801_143720

But for me, the piece de resistance had to be the giant Mickey Mouse portrait….although I’m not a big Disney fan, I had purchased a museum quality print of Warhol’s Mickey back in the early 80’s. There was something very endearing and magical about it and the original didn’t disappoint, with some sparklies in the background paint and his big silly smile -I fell in love all over again with my own Mickey.

20150801_143822As you can see (above), Mickey was in great company surrounded by Aunt Jemima, Howdy Doody and Andy himself!

All hail Her Maj!

All hail Her Maj!

Blue Mao...part of a series of Mao Andy painted in various bright colours. Very provocative at the time.

Blue Mao…part of a series of Mao that Andy painted in various bright colours. Very provocative at the time.

The Revolver Gallery at 77 Bloor St West, Toronto, will showcase these incredible works of art until December 31st, with general admission tickets $10 (Seniors $8, Students and Youth $5) and VIP passes for $30 (lots of perks and return visits incl.). If you love art or simply have a soul(!), you MUST go visit in person.   Tel: 647-347-5355 or www.warholrevisited.com

And a big thank you to Korbin and his crew of knowledgeable art interns who guided me thru the exhibit.

Great gift shop with tons of cool souvenirs

Great gift shop with tons of cool souvenirs

20150801_144040And here’s my very own Warhol poster, purchased during the 1982 Hamburg, Germany, exhibition. He’s freshly dusted off and awaiting a re-hang; now if only I could find some space on my walls….

20150802_130917

For more info on ANDY WARHOL’s work and life, please visit: www.artsy.net/artist/andy-warhol

 

?

RON KORB PERFORMS @ STEINWAY PIANO GALLERY

What a great way for flautist/composer Ron Korb to end the month of July – with a special performance at the renowned Steinway Piano Gallery in Markham (just north of Toronto). Ron was joined on stage by the award-winning pianist/composer (and Steinway artist) Chris Donnelly, and accompanied on Chinese erhu by Xiaoqiu Lin.20150731_201616 20150731_191942If you’ve never been to the Steinway location in Markham, it’s definitely worth a quick trip to see some of the most extraordinary instruments, ranging from family-friendly uprights to concert grand pianos. Join me for a virtual stroll thru their showroom…..

20150731_183348

World-renowned musician Aidan Mason tickles the ivories

World-renowned musician Aidan Mason tickles the ivories

Piano consultant Janice Brisco (r) chats with guests

Piano consultant Janice Brisco (r) chats with guests

20150731_183637

20150731_185734Ron and Chris had a wonderful rehearsal in the afternoon (below), and they were so well taken care of by the Steinway team. Wish all venues had such accommodating crews.

DSC04679As the concert drew to a close, both Ron and Chris were presented with a special performance citation from the City of Markham by Regional Councillor (and BIG Ron Korb fan!) Nirmala Armstrong (below left) – joining them on stage is Steinway General Manager Alex Thomson (below right)

DSC04735Ron’s beautiful wife, Jade, handled videotaping duties (below) as well as being responsible for the stunning photography in Ron’s latest CD, Asia Beauty. She also handled all the CD sales last night…phew! That woman needs a vacation!

20150731_201650We then adjourned to the gallery for a reception, CD sales and a meet-n-greet with the stars…oh what a rush!

20150731_203333

20150731_203614

full houseLovely to see some of the Canadian music icons and fellow artists who came out to support Ron and Chris. Below Liona Boyd…need I say more? Wow!20150731_204243And keyboardist and producer Lance Anderson played a few tunes while Nightingale Music founder, Caron Nightingale looked on (below). 20150731_210102

Lance soon drew a crowd including photographer David who I caught mid-shot!

Lance soon drew a crowd including photographer David who I snapped mid-shot!

Here's Aidan Mason again, with partner Margot Glatt

Here’s Aidan Mason again, with partner Margot Glatt

Sculptor/painter Olga Nabatova showed her stripes along with her friend, classical pianist  Helen Marinow

Sculptor/painter Olga Nabatova showed her stripes along with her friend, classical pianist Helen Marinow

Here are two friends and fans of Ron's - musician Wen Zhao (who played on Ron's Asia Beauty CD) with Grace Lau of Aqua Event Mgmn't

Here are two friends and fans of Ron’s – at left musician Wen Zhao (who played on Ron’s Asia Beauty CD) with Grace Lau of Aqua Event Mgmn’t on the right.

We all love Ron's super fan John Ota

We all love Ron’s super fan John Ota (above)

And here is Ron sandwiched between two fabulous ladies – Margaret Nightingale (left) & Caron on the right.

20150731_211737

More fans showed their love for our 2 stars of the night

More fans showed their love for our 2 stars of the night

Charming and knowledgeable piano consultant Phyllis Zhong (ctr) was joined by 2 friends

Charming and knowledgeable piano consultant Phyllis Zhong (ctr) was joined by 2 friends

But it was Phyllis's shoes that caught my attention. Painful? Yes. But worth it? You betcha!

But it was Phyllis’s shoes that caught my attention. Painful? Yes. But worth it? You betcha!

Here's Helen Li, VP of the new posh glossy magazine "Pure Luxury".

Here’s Helen Li, VP of the new posh glossy magazine “Pure Luxury”.

Alex worked hard all night with his staff, to make everyone feel welcome. Bravo, good show, Alex!

Alex worked hard all night with his staff to make everyone feel welcome. Bravo, Alex, good show!

And here's the "jewel in the crown" - the handcrafted Macassar Ebony Steinway grand, worth a cool qtr million! Everyone wanted to touch it, play it...and so they did!

And here’s the “jewel in the crown” – the handcrafted Macassar Ebony Steinway grand, worth a cool qtr million! Everyone wanted to touch it, play it…and so they did!

 

20150731_20560620150731_203648If you would like to learn more about Ron, please visit his website: www.ronkorb.com and if you would like to visit the Steinway Piano Gallery, check out their website at: www.steinwaytoronto.ca

A wonderful concert...thank you to Chris, Ron and Xiaoqiu

A wonderful concert…thank you to Chris, Ron and Xiaoqiu