Monthly Archives: September 2015

Traditional Akha (1)

TUES. SEPT. 29 is INTERNATIONAL COFFEE DAY! MEET CANADA’S FAIRTRADE Doi Chaang Coffee Company

These days, we have a special day for everything…Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, bagel day… and tomorrow it’s International Coffee Day so I thought I’d join in with my own spirited tribute to caffeine by telling you about a new Canadian free-trade coffee company I recently encountered during the Toronto Int’l Film Fest – the Doi Chaang Coffee Company headquartered in Vancouver, BC.  BlendsFamilyCI first met their representatives during a TIFF gift lounge visit and was thrilled to receive a bag of their Social Medium beans to try at home. OMG, the flavour is rich, aromatic but not acidic and has no bitter after-taste. My kinda brew!20150909_123025Thanks to their PR & Marketing Manager Brittany Brown for sending me some cool photos and product information; so here’s the story behind this unique Canadian company that is helping farmers and their families create a financially and agriculturally viable industry in Northern Thailand.Bean Sacks (16) Doi-Chaang-45-of-131Doi Chaang Coffee Co. is a Vancouver-based coffee company whose unique business model has been gaining recognition nation-wide. Since 2006, the company’s ‘beyond fair trade’ model has supported farmers living and working in a northern Thailand village with steady access to running water, electricity and improved infrastructure.

“We’re proud to be a family-owned business that allows us to give back and support our global community,” said John M. Darch, co-founder of Doi Chaang Coffee (pictured below left at the TIFF gift lounge in the Shangri-La Hotel). “Our relationship with the Doi Chang Village farmers stemmed from our desire to help a community that, despite their dedication and determination, have not been successful in helping themselves.” Doi Chaang has an equal partnership with Doi Chang village, in northern Thailand, meaning its farmers receive 50 per cent of the company’s profits. While Fairtrade partnerships provide fair working environments, wages and labour rights, Doi Chaang goes a step futher by providing 50 per cent ownership to the workers involved, which they’ve coined Beyond Fair Trade®. “Our sustainable sourcing model has enabled us to distribute to the eastern market which will help the Doi Chang Village continue to thrive,” said Darch. “Our customers are investing in the welfare of the farming families in Thailand, enhancing their standard of living, health care, education and cultural heritage and identity.” 20150909_123022Doi Chaang Coffee Company is one of the most innovative, socially responsible, yet economically viable, specialty coffees on the market. Rated among the top 1% in the world, the coffee is the only single-estate, 100% Arabica, USDA Certified Organic, Fair Trade Certified and shade grown coffee grown in Thailand. The beans are cultivated and processed by the indigenous AKHA hill tribe in small, family owned gardens in Doi Chang Village located in the Chang Rai Province of Northern Thailand, but freshly roasted and packaged in B.C. 

Doi Chaang coffee is available in Single-Estate roasts, Blends and biodegradable Keurig-compatible, single serve aroma cups in independent and major retailers across the country including Choices, Safeway, Thrifty’s, Longo’s, Sobeys and FreshCo.  For more information, visit http://www.doichaangcoffee.com/.Social Medium & Hardwired - English - 2 of 2So the next time you fancy a brew-up, think about the impact purchasing fair-trade coffee has on the lives of those who grow and harvest the beans that make our mornings so bearable!  HAPPY INTERNATIONAL COFFEE DAY!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Big poppa

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“THE BABY” opens in Toronto Oct. 15th – Meet the man who plays Mama

Starting October 15th,  writer/director Dan Spurgeon brings his award-winning hit play THE BABY to Toronto audiences and leading the cast on stage is NY Drama Desk Award nominee FRANK BLOCKER (pictured above)  The multi-talented New York-based actor is making his Toronto theatre debut reprising his celebrated tour-de-force portrayal of Mama Wadsworth, the family matriarch of the play who keeps many secrets. Frank’s off-Broadway appearances include the Drama Desk-nominated Southern Gothic Novel, The Deep Throat Sex Scandal, Fall of the House of Usher, and Obie-winning West/East Village Fragments.  Frank is also a playwright (Southern Gothic Novel; Stabilized Not Controlled; Eula Mae’s Beauty, Bait & Tackle; Patient Number; Suite Atlanta; The Wisconsinners; Good Jew; The Call of Cthulhu).

I recently spoke with Frank who shared his thoughts on reprising his now-famous role of Mama for Toronto audiences, as well as his career on stage and screen.

Frank, you played Mama Wadsworth in the award-winning L.A. production of The Baby – are you eager to present Mama to Toronto audiences?
Excited and yet cautious.  She’s terribly misunderstood. To be honest, I do not want my first role in any town to be “drag” – and it’s really not…so there’s that.  You get labeled for such roles.  Fortunately, I am so unrecognizable in the poster, when my sister saw it on Facebook, she asked if I was involved in the show in some way. mama-wailing-smYou’re also a playwright yourself, so how collaborative was the process for creating this larger-than-life character – how closely did you work with writer/director Dan Spurgeon?
Well, there wasn’t a lot of time – we were in a bit of a rush and there’s 11 people on stage – doing a LOT.  But his direction was pretty clear: that we had to fit into the style and world he wanted.  We’re a B-movie on stage.  You want “bad acting” so to speak, but you don’t want it to BE bad.  To put on the proper veneer for the role – I decided I wasn’t playing the role.  Someone else was.  I play an actress who is playing a part:  a b-movie, has-been, aging actress had found herself cast in a tiny theatrical role amidst actors with varying experience levels.  My “actress” would try to put a positive spin on it – if she didn’t have a positive attitude she wouldn’t have survived in this biz… She had a great role in this “Mama Wadsworth”, one of Shakespearean magnitude.  A tragedy!!  This story (to the “actress) is all about Mama…willing to do anything to save her family and yet, like an Elizabethan play, must die trying.  Suddenly, I had the veneer, but the performance was still real and passionate.  And yes, I use every Shakespearean ‘thing’ I ever learned—more so in this than actual Shakespeare.  Enunciation, projection, dissecting each sentence for pace …it sure wasn’t just throwing on 10 outfits for laughs.  Although that’s pretty dang funny.charlies-angels-smAs an actor, there was the same collaboration as normal but as a playwright, well, there wasn’t much to do, say or help Dan with…When Dan asked me to read it, it worked well, in my opinion.  I had seen the movie many years earlier, and I have worked with lots and lots of playwrights, but in this case all I could offer Dan was, “Don’t change anything—maybe punch up a line here or there but you’ll know when you need that.”  It was a smart and fun adaptation in its first draft.  You don’t mess with someone if you think they found gold…I have seen WAY too many people jump into that type of situation, want so bad to be an affecting part of the art, and they ruin the stew.   The best thing I could do for Dan as a fellow playwright was encourage, then shut up.

You’ve enjoyed much success in comedic roles, in particular edgy outrageous characters – do you prefer more serious dramatic roles or do you relish the more outlandish characters?
When I was working in NYC, I found that my “street cred” friends—the ones I literally did street theatre with—thought it disturbing that my off-Broadway playwriting debut was for something like Eula Mae’s Beauty, Bait & Tackle…in their eyes, it lessened me.   And of course, the street performers and the comedy folk had a hard time understanding that I was classically trained and even like to do that sort of stuff (sometimes).  Then, when I would go to work and do all that smarty-pants-computer-stuff, they would express shock that I got up on stage at all.  What I prefer is a deep, rich character that I think I can bring something to—particularly the “evil” ones.  Again, horribly misunderstood.  In the evil one’s mind, he/she is desperately trying to make what they think is important change—they are a hero.  Outlandish can be fun—chewing scenery is fun—but it always has to be real in the end or you don’t get a single laugh, a single tear, nor a single care from the audience.  I love this role because unlike many comedic parts, it can become rote and/or just plain easy.  This one requires the utmost attention because with 11 people on stage, things just happen.  Truly, I relish the most impossible roles—or whatever someone thinks cannot be done.  Dan and I talked about this role before he put up the audition notice the first time—we were pretty sure it would work this way, but I know we both had some concerns.SNC_JPAbsolute favorite roles of all time – Usher in The Fall of the House of Usher (absolutely nothing funny in that one) and it was incredibly presentational and artsy; Don Quixote going insane in the Don Quixote Project; and all the characters in Southern Gothic Novel…which is funny, outlandish, and very very physically exhausting.  But yes, Mama is probably up there with them…when will I ever get to say, “You’ve got your fucking tit in his mouth and you call that nothing?” again?

You have also appeared in films and on episodic TV (please feel free to share which ones) – how do approach on-camera roles as opposed to live stage performances? 
Not much on-camera, unless you count all those darned short films.  I was in a Law & Order: SVU episode, I’m at the 3:00 mark in a movie called Thanks for Sharing—at a sex addiction meeting, and I show up in the middle of Tales of Halloween (opens in a few weeks) looking devilish and creepy…as if Satan showed up to watch a nasty fight.  I approached that role like most—had the director tell me what he wanted me to do and did what I could to fit the vision.  Worked well in that case—after editing, the role came out differently on film than what the day’s goal was when we filmed it.  But because I trusted the director, he knew what to do in the editing room and actually made my part shine more than it would have originally.  Also, make your director happy in film or you will end up on the cutting room floor.
But on-camera being different?  Only in that you are being photographed instead of watched by live persons, daily.  In film, show up knowing those lines like the back of your hand because EVERYTHING will distract you.  Plus, when it comes time to actually speak them, it takes all of 2 seconds and a crew of a gazillion people are waiting for you…to do it right and with as little extra takes as possible…because they spent all day and night setting up all that shit! AND you have to be able to do it again, exactly, several times over in case multi-shots are needed, or Murphy’s Law is proving itself with the technical aspects.  You do not want to be the actor who F-ed up the consistency or caused the crew to go home even later to their families.  Efficiency and preparedness makes them all much happier.Cthulhu photo verticalAs you played Mama before, how does this run differ from the LA production – do you plan on bringing anything new, special, crazier to your characterization?
I’m not bringing it…Dan is … He wants me to do a song…
That’s the only change.  Of course, the rehearsal process is needed so I can rebuild familial relationships with each of my “children”—they are all very different and it’s very important for the final product…but changing things or ratcheting up the performance would be selfish and would be a disservice to the show.  I get plenty of focus wearing those outfits and saying what I (get to) say—trying to get more would be criminal—and boring as heck to the audience.  We’re a team on this show and have to be one—and every part is truly a lead, down to the single-line party guest asking a simple question.

The only newness I would like to bring is that of already having done it … the “new” thing would be my previous experience with it and that I can back up Dan should anyone wonder, “does this or that work.”  Cuz trust me, it’s sometimes hard to believe we’re doing this show…it is WHACKED.Baby-in-crib-sm judith-axe-smIs this your first time in Toronto? And if so, any touristy sites or extra-curricular activities you plan to experience?
I plan to take a ferry to Toronto Island tomorrow.  I want to see Lake Ontario in person instead of from the plane (though that was nice).  Dan & Drew aren’t much the nature types and I love that stuff…and without a car, that seems like something I can easily get to and transport myself on foot, bus, train, streetcar and/or boat—a simple yet pleasant adventure.  No, I’ve never been to Canada at all.  Have great friends FROM Canada.  And boy, am I still freakin’ PISSED about Sale and Pelltier and it’s been … what?…. 13 years.  There should have been one gold medal team and it sure wasn’t the Russians!  DAMMIT.  Sorry but that one just gets to me….

Any other comments/funny stories or anecdotes you’d like to share?
I’m 50 and I’ve been doing theatre since I was in high school, so yes, plenty of stories: star run-ins, crazy audience members, totally insane theatre producers, certifiably insane artists…BUT specific to this show:  a full year after we closed it, we were at a party thrown by the Ann character.  One of her friends started talking about THE BABY and asked me if I’d seen it.  I said, “You know, actually, I never did get a chance to see it.”  And they went on and on about it—praising Jana Wimer’s (Ann) performance and ‘that guy’ who played the mother.  They quoted a few lines, and then I said one of the lines.  Took ‘em a few minutes, but finally one went, “Wait.  OMIGOD IT’S YOU! (pokes his friend) it’s him…Her…I mean, Mama.  It’s him…her…shit!  … YOU played Mama, didn’t you?”
After the first few rehearsals here for me the sense of joy and passion from the Toronto cast is very exciting.  That makes this show soar.  And these guys are taking to it like ducks to water.Baby-logo-web-banner

About the Show:
A love letter to the sleazy grindhouse cinema of the ’70s, THE BABY follows social worker Ann Gentry as she finds herself with a very unusual case – the Wadsworth family, whose youngest member, Baby, is an adult man who sleeps in a crib and acts like an infant.  Is Ann on the case to help the disabled Baby escape his abusive mother and sisters, or is her interest in him more… special?  Part bizarre love story, part twisted fairy tale, part mystery thriller and all outrageous and offensive, the ’70s cult film comes to the stage with a story so strange and shocking, you won’t believe it’s happening right in front of you!

What the LA Critics said about The Baby:
“Gleefully perverse with a delicious campiness!”  Paul Birchall, LA Weekly
“The most fun I’ve had at a play in a long time!”  Andrew Moore, Mad Theatrics
and our favourite….. “That was fuckin’ funny!”  Ron Jeremy, adult film legend

THE BABY   http://thebabyliveonstage.com/
Show runs: Oct. 15 to Nov. 1, 2015
The Storefront Theatre, 955 Bloor Street West, Toronto
Showtimes: Tues. thru Sat. @ 8pm & Sun. @ 2pm
Tickets: $20-$25 available from http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2253620logo

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ZEBUU HOME DECOR STORE OFFERS UNIQUE ACCESSORIES IN GALLERY-LIKE SETTING

When I visited Toronto’s Bloordale neighbourhood yesterday to celebrate the opening of the Dead Dog Records store, I walked past an intriguing store offering unique and incredibly beautiful home decor and art that I just could not resist…so I went inside.

20150926_140306Zebuu, located at 1265 Bloor St West just east of Lansdowne, presents its wares much like a curated gallery – collections of bird carvings from Brazilian artisans in lots of lovely colours grouped together like little birdies on a power line…delicately carved wooden angels flew across the entrance wall, and groups of wooden heads marched across the shelves live Easter Island moai come to life!

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20150926_140037Co-owner Craig Williamson explained that he and his partner, Geraldo Valerio, import their home decor, room accents and textiles mainly from Brazil, Turkey and India, all handcrafted by skilled artisans. Check out the stunning copperware from Turkey and the beautifully decorated shears and scissors from Mumbai, India, below.20150926_135902

20150926_135916So many cute little treasures for the wee ones’ rooms as well as the big people…I wanted to play with these hand-carved beasties….20150926_135741…and what kitchen or family room wouldn’t benefit from the addition of these fine home accents?20150926_140134 20150926_135725 20150926_135755Don’t the wooden spoons look like art (above), displayed the way Craig has hung them on the wall? Each is made by hand from native Brazilian hardwoods, ensuring a one-of-a-kind look and feel.

If you’re more into Canadiana, have no fear…Zebuu has lots of lovely goodies for the true blue Canucks, too.20150926_140045 20150926_140139The new website, www.zebuu.com, is still being populated with photos and product information, but you can call them on 647-748-1265 or email: info@zebuu.com 20150926_135656Zebuu is a welcome oasis of art, home decor and giftware amongst a row of unremarkable but friendly neighbourhood cafes, convenience stores and thrift shops.  You will feel welcome and at home so drop in and say hello to Craig and Geraldo, and do tell them I sent you.20150926_140110

 

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DEAD DOG RECORDS BREATHES NEW LIFE INTO TORONTO’S MUSIC RETAIL SCENE

Congratulations to Stephen, Maesy and Kristie on today’s grand opening of their DEAD DOG RECORDS store at 1209 Bloor St West (near Lansdowne subway stn)…what a great day it was for vinyl lovers and all things music! lgoFor years, I used to shop at a now-defunct big-name record store on Yonge just south of Bloor where all three worked, where Stephen would always manage to secure my hard-to-find requests for music and films – I was crestfallen when that store was closed down.  It was hinted that Maesy, Kristie and Stephen were planning to open their own store within a year and I was thrilled to learn last week that they had risen, phoenix-like, with this cool Dead Dog Records store in Bloordale.20150926_132639Jacquie, personal chef from www.chezJacquie.ca was out front (see above) offering homebaked cookies to all Dead Dog shoppers – now that’s how you launch a business: FREE FOOD!  And inside, the store was packed with keen vinyl fans as well as family and friends of the trio of owners. They even sell turntables…really good ones!20150926_133418

20150926_133625There’s something for every musical taste….20150926_133343 20150926_133354 20150926_133426 20150926_133443 20150926_133454…and I was thrilled to find some old friends from the late 70’s, early 80’s when I was a club kid. In fact, the late, great BB Gabor was a fixture at the various bars and clubs around town and I have cassettes recorded directly off the board from the recording sessions that resulted in this album. Who remembers…“nyet nyet Soviet…Soviet Jewellery..” ?20150926_133208And Vancouver’s Doug and the Slugs were awesome in the 80’s.  Remember the hit single “Too Bad”? I remember seeing the band live at the old Blue Note on Pears Ave.20150926_133317

Iggy!!!!!!!20150926_133246

and a big favourite of all the store’s owners…Cash…Johnny Cash. Lots of great vintage albums here.20150926_133605Tons of great merchandise, too. I got a black Dead Dog Records t-shirt and a couple of pins so I’m looking fwd to being their walking billboard to promote this great new business that will benefit musicians and fans alike.20150926_132939 20150926_133502 20150926_133533Are you a movie fan? Well, you don’t have to rely on Netflix or your cable company to deliver your fave flicks…Dead Dog also sells great DVDs, many hard to find films that are never shown on digital or traditional TV channels. Come on down and browse…20150926_133619and if you’re a Sheldon or Wolowitz type of geek, well, Dead Dog has something for you, too!20150926_133756 20150926_133810I love discovering great new (or in this case, old) talent as I flip thru the bins and look what I found today…20150926_133839I think we should make Claude on a Cloud a hit all over again…let’s get on YouTube and find this guy. The world needs more Claude!!

So big congrats and thank-you to Dead Dog Records – we can’t wait to visit your in-store events, live music events & special promotions and hope that you become so successful that we have to call you Old Dog Records!

Maesy (left) & Kristie (right)

Maesy (left) & Kristie (right)

Stephen

Stephen

DEAD DOG RECORDS, 1209 Bloor St West, Toronto  T: 647-748-0748
www.Facebook.com/DeadDogRecordsTO
Instagram.deaddogrecords

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IS LIVE MUSIC IMPORTANT TO TORONTO? You betcha!

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a special panel discussion regarding the live music strategy being undertaken by the Downtown Yonge BIA in partnership with Music Canada, City of Toronto’s Economic Development & Culture Division, Canada’s Music Incubator and Heritage Toronto. The focus of the discussion was the historical and contemporary importance of Yonge Street as a music and cultural hub for the city (see end of blog for web addresses).

Hosted in the Hard Rock Cafe (originally known as the Friar’s Tavern in the 60’s and 70’s), the venue overlooks the world-famous Yonge-Dundas Square (below).20150924_182802The event was part of the Yonge Street Speaker Series sponsored by Downtown Yonge BIA and presented by Yonge Street Media who publishes an online newsletter containing information and news pertaining to the Yonge St corridor (I highly recommend you subscribe to this).  http://www.yongestreetmedia. ca/

Introduced by Yonge Street’s Ritu Bhardwaj and supported by Downtown Yonge BIA’s Exec. Director & Chief Staff Officer Mark Garner,  the panel of music industry experts (pictured below) included moderator Amanda Martinez – singer/songwriter and media personality; Greg Godovitz – long-time recording artist whose hard rock band Goddo was a big fave of mine back in the 70’s & 80’s when I was a weekly clubgoer. Greg is now a radio personality, producer and author; Amy Terrill, VP of Public Affairs for Music Canada; Nicholas Jennings – music journalist and author of one of my fave books Before the Goldrush (the story of the Yorkville scene in the 60’s), and Mike Tanner – Music Sector Development Officer for Toronto’s Film & Entertainment Industries office.20150924_193055Several topics were addressed including the state of viable live performance stages in the city (or lack thereof), as well as the value of Yonge Street as the touchstone for the city’s music history. A number of initiatives have already been launched including designating the various locations of important venues from the past along the Yonge strip that will receive plaques acknowledging their contributions to the city’s and country’s music industry. See map below:img278Soon to launch is the Canada’s Music Incubator initiative, which is the next phase of Downtown Yonge’s music strategy. Partnering with Coalition Music, they are introducing an Artist Management program – something I myself taught for several years at one of the city’s music & film schools.  One of the missing components in these days of online music distribution and social media marketing is the professional artist’s manager who guides artists and negotiates liveable performance fees for them, so hopefully this program will result in a more professional approach to music marketing and gigging esp. for emerging artists who need this important support.

It was great to watch the introductory video that reminded us of Yonge Street’s heritage – The Colonial Tavern, Le Coq d’Or Tavern, Ronnie Hawkins and other legacy musicians…see below20150924_191124 20150924_191259

20150924_190910…and attendees were very enthusiastic with their own questions and commentary- below20150924_203258One important issue that was brought to the fore is that musicians gigging around town these days are not paid by the clubs and bars that take advantage of the fans’ booze and food sales. Back when the city’s live music venues had a thriving attendance (70’s- early 90’s) bars would pay the artists and promote/advertise their own venue – these days bands have to either work for the door or sell tickets provided by the club owners who pocket the revenue generated. Bands also have to promote themselves using whatever publicity vehicles they can afford (social media is free but few artists really understand how to target the market outside of their own “circle of friends” to attract new fans). The panel all agreed this is a serious issue, however, as one of my musician friends pointed out, last night’s event was held in just such a venue where bands have to rent the space (for a substantial fee) plus meet a bar sales minimum. So instead of operating as true bars and live music venues, many are now operating as corporate event spaces. Musicians lose out and in the long run, so do the fans who are not exposed to as many talented homegrown artists as we did back in the day.

I hope to participate in more discussions and activities in support of this “Music Strategy/Downtown Yonge BIA” project and I encourage you all to go out and see/hear a band this weekend. Thank you for supporting Canadian artists!

Important websites for fans of Canadian music:
www.downtownyonge.com   www.musiccanada.com   www.toronto.ca   www.canadasmusicincubator.com   www.coalitionmusic.com

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Panera Bread® HOSTS CUSTOMER APPRECIATION EVENT TUES SEPT. 29

On Tuesday, September 29th, PANERA BREAD is inviting guests to all Toronto-area bakery-cafe locations for its first ever Customer Appreciation Event. Guests are invited to enjoy a free cup of coffee, gift card giveaways and samples of favourite menu items* –  the event will serve as a kick-off to a relationship with the Big Brothers & Big Sisters Agencies of Canada where donations will be collected until the end of October with a portion matched by Panera Bread ULC and Covelli Enterprises.  *One medium hot coffee per person. Espresso and capuccino beverages excluded.   Each cafe will randomly give away Panera Bread Gift Cards while supplies last. Visit www.PaneraBread.com for local store hours.everything-bagel.desktop cherry-pastry.desktopPanera was welcomed into the community of Mississauga with its first store opening in 2008. Just seven years later, there are now 16 locations in Canada with 10 throughout the Greater Toronto Area.  For additional information on the upcoming event, visit your local Panera Bread bakery-cafe.sc3a-wwc-roasted-turkey-apple-cheddar-sandwich.desktop classic-salad-whole.desktop vegetarian-autumn-squash-soup-bowl.desktop steel-cut-oatmeal-with-apple-chips-and-pecansParticipating Panera Bread bakery-cafes in southern Ontario include:
Downtown Toronto – 322 Yonge St.
Sherway – 197 North Queen Street, Toronto
Don Mills – 1066 Don Mills Rd
Oakville – 2530 Winston Park Drive
Dorval – 220 North Service Road West
Erin Mills – 2575 Eglington Avenue West
Mississauga – 5935 Mavis Rd.
Mississauga – 55 Square One Dr.
Markham – 3987 Highway 7
Richmond Hill – 9350 Yonge St.
Vaughan – 16 Famous Avenue
Oshawa – 240 Ritson Road North
Barrie – 149 Park Place Blvd

About Panera Bread 
30 years ago, at a time when quick service meant low quality, Panera set out to challenge this expectation. They believed that food that was good and that you could feel good about, served in a warm and welcoming environment by people who cared, could bring out the best in all of us. To Panera, that is food as it should be and that is why we exist.
So Panera began with a simple commitment: to bake fresh bread from fresh dough in every bakery-cafe, every day. No artificial preservatives or short cuts, just bakers with simple ingredients and hot ovens. Each night, any unsold bread and baked goods were shared with neighbours in need.
These traditions carry on today, as Panera has continued to find ways to be an ally to their guests. That means crafting a menu of soups, salads and sandwiches they’re proud to feed our families. Like poultry and pork raised without antibiotics on their salads and sandwiches. A commitment to transparency and options that empower Panera’s guests to eat the way they want. Seasonal flavours and whole grains. And a commitment to removing artificial additives (flavours, colours, sweeteners and preservatives) from the food in their bakery-cafes. Why? Because Panera believes simpler is better and in serving food as it should be. Because when you don’t have to compromise to eat well, all that is left is the joy of eating!

For more information, visit panerabread.com or find us on Twitter (@panerabread), Facebook (facebook.com/panerabread) or Instagram (@panerabread).

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CONCERT POSTPONED: ANA RUCNER @ LIVING ARTS CENTRE SEPT. 27th

It is with much regret that Toronto music promoter, Cronnexion Entertainment + Events, has announced the postponement of Croatian superstar cellist Ana Rucner’s concert due to unforeseen circumstances. Ms. Rucner was booked to perform this Sunday at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga, and arrangements are being made now to re-schedule when travel permits. We thank all who showed interest in the event and Cronnexion would like to assure ticket holders that they will receive refunds directly from the Living Arts Centre. Please visit www.facebook.com/cronnexion for updates on Ana’s future concert date as well as other international artists coming in to Canada.

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If you would like to win a pair of tickets to see Europe’s most exciting classical musician, the beautiful and talented Croatian cellist Ana Rucner, when she plays the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga Sunday September 27th (7:30pm), just answer this simple question:

What is the capital of Croatia?ZagrebSend your answer with your name & phone # to: FordhamPR@rogers.com with the answer in the subject line by midnight Thursday Sept. 24th.  We will notify the winner via phone on Friday afternoon and your tickets will be left at the box office on Sunday evening.

For one night only, Europe’s most exciting classical cellist, ANA RUCNER, will perform a special program at Mississauga’s Living Arts Centre on Sunday September 27th (7:30pm showtime) presented by Toronto-based Cronnexion Entertainment & Events.

Rucner will perform two sets of contemporary and classical pieces featuring videos of her beloved Croatia, and will be accompanied by special guests University of Toronto String Quartet and local folklore dance group Zrinski Frankopan. The concert will be MC’d by Canadian music media icon, Michael Williams, founding veejay of MuchMusic.

Tickets are $55 – $75 and are available from the Living Arts Centre: http://www.livingartscentre.ca/theatre-performances/world-classics-and-croatian-beautiesclassical cello

David Gale, Ferne Downey, Theresa Tova

HITTING THE RED CARPET @ ACTRA TORONTO TIFF PARTY (Pt. II)

“More more more…how’d ya like it, how’d like it?” Only readers familiar with the disco era will probably get that….but it was still the case last night when Toronto’s fabulous film folks walked the red carpet at the ACTRA Toronto TIFF party held at the HangLoose Media studios…and they brought more more more glamour and fabulosity!
Was great to catch up with my old friend David Gale, pictured above with Ferne Downey and Theresa Tova who had some fun with Kate Wheeler of What She Said web radio who interviewed them on their way inside (below). CvPkRm0bemNp-rL8Pzd19SDtqSETkSp4x24ZHGiRBa4Meet the multi award-winning Helena-Alexis Seymour, 2 time Best Actress winner (F.A.B.I.O) and Best Actress nominee at the Black Canadian Awards (below).mYoDXNb1WB1baNjEj13lkE81ZznyhiKUcMFloWn9NkgAnd here’s the beautiful, elegant Clara Pasieka (below) who is also Chair of the Young Emerging Actors Assembly (YEAA).irNax-GfQfOhaX5uWLoisllILIN7RxoFCKiU2fE6Eg0Canadian acting royalty was in the house…yes, that’s Tantoo Cardinal, award-winning actor, activist and recipient of the Order of Canada! Ms. Cardinal was just honored with the 2015 ACTRA Award of Excellence20150915_200329I love it when actors get “into it” during photo calls – gives us all something to shoot and play with. And I soon discovered the shoes! My inner Carrie Bradshaw freaked out over some of the sexy footwear and even the guys brought it.20150915_194723 Rachel Tores 20150915_203440 20150915_204059 J8kaCs3VhIVjvEAD_39FxdjBkrp3Me9PEZFcElBvwLwEven the wristwear was pretty cool….I want that one!20150915_195732Recent imports from LA, here’s writer/director Dan Spurgeon (below, left), and his partner, producer Drew Blakeman (right) who were chatting up the actors about their award-winning play, The Baby, which is set to open here in Toronto next month.  http://thebabyliveonstage.com/  Dan and DrewHere’s internationally renowned flautist, composer and film scorer Ron Korb and his beautiful wife & photographer Jade.20150915_203635 12026688_10153507311771259_781100657_nOne of my favourite photo opps for the actors was this “selfie station” (below), What a great idea.selfie timeI love this photo (below) ….two of my fave party VIPs, ACTRA’s PR Officer Karen Woolridge (left) and Safiya Ricketts (right) who’s on the ACTRA Diversity, TAWC and YEAA committees.

ZnWVaJZJoRoP6A3XXQJ3lj8-MD1jDBNqkULhudSPUhQStand-up comedians/actors Ali Hassan & Dave Merhege (below) shared a few laughs with us.Stand-up comedians & actors Ali Hassan & Dave MerhegeOne of the hardest working men in Toronto showbiz is Bobby DelRio, actor, writer, director, handsome dude about town…you name it, Bobby does it!WOqPUm8SrkiPlcdwok8l-0QB_hQ9mDFB7CLxUHUNgSI

Randi & Barrie Shelson put in an appearance

Randi & Barrie Shelson put in an appearance

The stunning blonde in the firetruck red gown (below right) is Christine Jenna Cilano, Founder/CEO of Bella Life Model Agency of Boston (she whispered to me that she may be opening a Toronto office) who arrived with a cool entourage that included local club entrepreneur David Laxton (at left), musician Rasta Phill, model Lauren Marx and CEO of Madflower Creative, Nico Bacigalupo.yQTyqN5v1kM-GGL44cb2q1rpEy-ZS3tSUHlapNUvgEsHere’s more ACTRA members enjoying themselves, nice and relaxed, having fun and working the red carpet photo opps.OJIRHqd0bVaU4jjGp5R-0ezvQS34_1o2D_17nOsvs4o Ngpwhd_vCvhTyEdxQbBTGmuMnRDQC7F0ISeRF0O-H4U M5okz7jIZUh3Lt_9iFExwjzakOj-hKBPXN3sIsWKjJ0 7-lo5gQJZbh6Im2tm5wv4vwSOR09vejcdy7Q1W-Y93Y,3Veld1wxzYIQ46J9C5ijwMPEcw7TQOyM5LOcX_gcj5w 12033596_10153507312041259_1206314458_n

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CQ2NZh6eEDC4v15zabLZ5D9fTgAVGwhaCh0JSvkjaqkTa-daaah! That’s all I can say about this lovely, funny volunteer who helped keep our energy up while working the red carpet for 3hrs.20150915_191010Below, Raj Girn, publisher of Anokhi Media, one of the night’s sponsors, sparkled and shimmered. I remember attending the launch party for her successful luxury magazine, Anokhi Vibe, several years ago and I’m so happy for her success in such a tough market.20150915_211317More fun, fabulous party people….dxiTeCXwn7q97BTGIbrg-c4L6VRZJJl_oTMoDHPWN14 bGQwPS_aQoqgTdzdn81ZsOipvox3dBGfnA6x-wBfFTU aOgoU_g8nJJzmNVZ8zYzAiVgpMCYIDvV-bNuKXwGWUQNow…a big thank-you to to all the event sponsors and partners for making the soiree so successful.ACTRA logo Diversity Logo copy TAWC Logo copy YEAA Logo2 copy

hangloosePrint

d'alessio logo copy flow water sdtclogo copy st royal copyAnd congratulations to all the amazing volunteers who worked so hard to pull off such a fun, glamorous event. Bravo, and a big standing O to you all!dlhiCKZOOhmYqP3LlMxvXmGVJpRBli8PRaejNptgJJM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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HITTING THE RED CARPET @ ACTRA TORONTO’S TIFF PARTY (Pt.1)

The war cry last night was “ACTRA Gets Loose”! And judging by all the happy smiling faces on the glammed-up guests, all members of Toronto’s acting elite and film industry pro’s had a blast at the Hangloose Media Studios!WtksRsRxX5IC5GN--9A-gJCT7DQ0M1_OwNntYEhKZNs

2eBO2I3L8qXEjLKQaXS9Jidz94XkQxKl6Xwo20r5cR8bF1sl7qIoLrJ96bUNeB8bRfMMC_j3E4LOqmL1H5F1Ck My photographer, Gabriella Luchetta, and I arrived early to check out the studios and Gabs made a bee-line for the yummy candy buffet…20150915_18552420150915_185531We were introduced to the charming Fode Bangoura (below), ACTRA member and our “minder” for the night. Isn’t he handsome?Fode BangouraI, of course, had to try making an entrance on the red carpet prior to all the celebs….LIlgqCzSXjjJ1WQxrG-UeEtNhEbb3M39eiPq1LkqnvkOrganized by 3 groups within the ACTRA organization (Young Emerging Actors Assembly, Diversity and Toronto ACTRA Women’s Committee), my access to the party was thanks to Sarena Parmar (below) who Gabs snapped just before she disappeared to change into her party gear.with Sarena ParmarFirst to arrive was Art Hindle, one of Canada’s great film and TV actors and, who I’m slightly embarrassed to admit, was one of my “crushes” in the 80’s when he starred in the hit TV series, E.N.G.  Here he is (below) with his lovely wife Brooke, and the hosts of SiriusXM’s What She Said, Kate Wheeler and Christine Bentley (bottom pic)HW-tBSQgh6fhev2rnys9kcdy4-OTRyc8yrcHLWymrNo,qPvlOgB7ykyAqN6LfOmh9CKHdHrG4gDQm98Klp9Jbnc 20150915_191209 20150915_192659Then Kate grabbed Art for a quick interview (below)…20150915_192242And then it all started – so many beautiful ladies in their finest party frocks…so many handsome men all spit’n’polished ready for their close-ups.Z9nRhEY0JM_J-dzkqr4FDBzryWMS4xsNKJU0zcS0j_c,5GDHdoN_S_XIafBZ2Pppg-YtRqkP0jG9ef6WBTVX9jU

Michelle Latimer, Melina Laboucan, Jarrett Martineau, Nikki Sanchez

Michelle Latimer, Melina Laboucan, Jarrett Martineau, Nikki Sanchez

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Amy Hines & Ange Green

Amy Hines & Ang Green

Lots of film casts attend en masse like the actors from Beeba Boys (below)Beeba Boys 2

gLEmoUXRJ32p5JHsrr8rbucfE9097yz-_FjX4OzmNs4 P6ObzT67pJeI0ThSG4rVG6Sl70LjaEn9lMKeqtxf2vI,5fGZ2UWpse8xwS8aM-kbTjSq-nJIekCuZws7ye4DbcoAnd the stunning Amanda S (below) set all hearts a-flutter in this sexy red gown…Amanda SHere is the dashing trio of Jack Newman, Julian Richings & John Nelles – betcha you’ve seen their faces in numerous films and TV spots….now you know their names!Jack Newman, Julian Richings, John NellesCute-as-a-button actor Ally Williams (below) arrived in this gorgeous yellow silk number, and she even brought her dress designer, Azalea Yang, with her.Ally Williams

20150915_212442I got a chance to meet other media reps working the red carpet – here’s Ruzanna of ForFilmsSake.comZYuQGmDpvSmOWLO486F4UrT1MHQ1qp6a7D7nwfnehBIAnd here I meet actor Shanti Dhore and her beautiful daughter Leila who is also an actor.h3SQrZi8A6q_7oJ3cQUHzuhYFxux8IoZnynh5pHKMqo,MWic01qsfeDjFvizb6zC0nIGsFVG-WX_AHkC-C5bAukAnd the young lady who owns every TIFF red carpet these days…the amazing and talented actor/producer Katie Boland (below) 20150915_204811

KatieI even managed to find a fan of my own, too!6dq6n-JxWUpjR_m0Eju4FuqjCbL2hI6hlcKPtDcUzvwHere’s Cristina Rosato with her gorgeous date…g3cuJPd-v4n8IO2oUC26uPZohkonMmjD0xxyCLY4Kh0,jIALM25FUtw1ORSbpRMWVSIiM_U44RUq3W3osZoruWsAnd here’s super elegant Talia Schlanger wearing a dress by Hilary Macmillan and necklace by Atelier Bymm glaA1hQ4vBIhNGPip2ods53eMHlv5p6oCGL7QadgPNgActor Simu Liu (Omega, Nikita) brought his pretty date and promoted his upcoming TV series “Blood and Water”1BsjbAQUY4lJoT-fF0J5LN5CI782NJl5eBPycbfnyAs,mquStS-uCNvuUulXN7vzMIdbclw4Ipl8K6Z1EWQqHEg (1)Lots more pics to post, so check back later for Pt. II. In the interim, am sending out a big thanks to the ladies of 20Twenty Artistry for keeping us all pretty and fresh faced throughout the night.20150915_190908

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ENJOY A TOUCH OF LUXURY DURING TIFF @ ARCHIVES in YORKVILLE

What a grey, rainy day dawned here on the 4th day of the Toronto Int’l Film Festival (TIFF).  I have no “official” screenings or soirees to attend so what to do…what to do?  Earlier last week, I had received a lovely invitation from ARCHIVES  [ http://www.archivesltd.com/ ] an exclusive concept store located in the new Four Seasons Hotel a few blocks away, so earlier this afternoon, I grabbed my umbrella, put on some bright lipstick and headed out to see their gorgeous new luxury bling… join me now for a virtual visit.20150913_162339

20150913_162154Archives is featuring two hot young jewellery designers, Brazilian Fernando Jorge, and UK-based Lebanese designer Noor Fares – see their showcases below:

Fernando Jorge

Fernando Jorge

Fernando Jorge

Fernando Jorge

Fernando Jorge: the Brazilian-born jewellery designer takes inspiration from the laid back attitude and effortless sensuality of his home country. Fernando’s pieces are imbued with energy and movement – his aesthetic is inherently Brazilian. Having gained an international media following, the designer is widely considered to be amongst the brightest emerging talents in the jewellery and fashion worlds alike. His collections can be found in the most prestigious stores in London, Paris, Beirut, New York, Los Angeles and Dallas, as well as online.

Noor Fares

Noor Fares

Noor Fares

Noor Fares

Noor Fares: the young London-based designer is known for her exotic, mythical, hand-crafted jewellery. Noor’s admiration for beautiful objects started as a young child, obsessed with her mom’s jewelry box. After studying art history and jewellery design, she combined her passion for art with her love of adventure by launching her first line in 2009. Noor fuses modern fashion with old world tradition, using a diverse range of materials like diamonds, sapphires, white gold, and rhodium. Her creative aesthetic is rooted in her Lebanese heritage – most of her pieces are engraved with an eye, the Lebanese tradition that protects the wearer from all things evil.

Archives also carries a number of great purses from Les Petits Joueus, including this awesome black and red piece that would go perfectly with an outfit I’m wearing to one TIFF party this week….20150913_162135Don’t you just LOVE these purple hats from London milliner Philip Treacy  – exclusive in Canada to Archives:20150913_162358I’ve always been partial to fine china and ceramics and Archives has a range of Meissen Couture home decor pieces…I love the birdies (below) that have no function other than to amuse.20150913_162536 20150913_162555 20150913_162850 20150913_162831I also found the Meissen historic “helmets” (below) rather intriguing…looks like another Roman invasion!20150913_162439

20150913_162457I didn’t realize until I was told by the store staff that even the chandelier and wall sconces were Meissen….wow! 20150913_162510They carry some cool men’s accessories, too, although I couldn’t grab a good photo without reflections…but definitely worth a look-see.20150913_162321When the store first opened, I remember seeing this fabulous mannequin that the store staff blinged out with mirror shards…look at her now, all chi-chi poo-poo !20150913_162208In-house designer Jaleh Farhad Pour creates stunning earrings and I have my eye on a number of pairs – guess which ones (below)….pair on bottom row, 3rd from left has my name all over ’em!20150913_162316The store also brings in some natural bling…love these carnations and orchids, all colour-coordinated.20150913_162159

20150913_162912Home decor designer Tom Dixon offers sumptuous home fragrances and accessories like these (below)….20150913_162736 20150913_162757

…and if you’re looking for some great reading specs Archives carries the See Concept glasses in various colours, frames and vision levels, starting at $49…so you can get a two or three pairs! Do you like the blue pair I’m wearing?20150913_163552

20150913_163533They also have cool sunglasses from Illestiva (below) so pick out your fave movie star look and away you go to the red carpet.20150913_162308So much to see, so much to drool over!  And you can enjoy all these in person if you drop in to Archives on Bay Street yourself (the NW corner of the Four Seasons Hotel in Yorkville) between now and Sept. 20th…check out the invitation below.

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Thanks to the Archives staff for showing me around…..see you all soon.

http://www.archivesltd.com/