John Paul Adamo grew up at Hockley Valley Resort, his family’s ski hill turned hotel turned golf course and fine dining destination about an hour north of Toronto. Over the last 30 odd years, John Paul’s parents, Nancy and Mario Adamo built the resort into one of the province’s premium destinations. Drawing on their Italian roots, the family always rooted their food provision in the region, buying meat and produce from around Hockley Valley and Dufferin County.
As John Paul took on an increasing leadership role in the company (he’s now President), the financial crisis of 2008-9 hit the hospitality industry. The Adamos decided to take the slump as an opportunity to reinvest and renovate Hockley Valley Resort and John Paul pushed for an emphasis on amazing local food of the region and fine dining. While Mario pursued his dream of planting a vineyard, John Paul ripped up the tennis courts and planted an extensive organic garden, surrounded by fruit trees. Now, 80% of the produce used in the kitchens during the growing season comes from the garden, which lies just off the driveway at the front of the hotel buildings. “Right away, we want guests to see the garden and understand this is what we’re about,” explained John Paul.
The organic garden, which is tended by a full a time gardener, was just the beginning. As they reconfigured the hospitality areas into a bar, Babbo, a casual dining room, 85 and Cabin, their fine dining space, they added a cathedral ceilinged wine cellar, a cheese finishing room and a charcuterie making room, all visible through glass windows and doors to guests and diners.
I caught up with John Paul Adamo and Chef Mario Turco recently to shoot the video below about how they’re able to keep their commitment to local, sustainable and artisanal foods while serving hundreds of guests, from weekend getaway couples, to wedding parties, to major corporate retreats and conferences.
Can’t see the video? Click here.
Malcolm Jolley is a founding editor of Good Food Revolution and Executive Director of Good Food Media, the not-for-profit corporation which publishes it. Follow him at twitter.com/malcolmjolley