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)
Next 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)
Across 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.
Great to see Sheena Wood of Simply the Best catering and events (below) who also fed us well with tasty hors d’oeuvres.Next, 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)
Here’s Nota Bene, who teased my tastebuds with crunchy salmon sandwiches and risotto balls…
…and Oro spoiled us all with these artful nibblies (below). Is your mouth watering yet?
My Yorkville neighbours, Mistura, caught my eye and my mouth, too, with these treats (below)
I 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.
Belly dancing anyone? The Berber Lounge booth (below) looked lush and exotic…and so was the mint tea, thank you.
Gabriella 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)
Then it was over to Ripley’s Aquarium booth for a quick dip where we became shark bait!
Okay, back to business ladies! The Welcome to Regina booth served up sweet cupcake pops (below)….….and a big howdy to the cowgirls from Tucson, AZ (below). Thanks for the packs of cactus jellies, too.The charming Montreal booth hosts were distributing a custom cola so both Gabs and I now have old school bottles of the elixir du Montreal.
We 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).
Here’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!!).
You 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
While 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.
Daniel 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.
Time for more food and drinkies…..
…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.
We 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!
Sue 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.
Alain 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!
I 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.
OMG, 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.
Time 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).
Uncommon 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.
Gabriella got into the selfie thing and tooks some great pics in this mirror. Okay, 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?! Almost 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.