by Malcolm Jolley

OHI Top 30 Awardees

OHI Top 30 Under 30 awardees include (clockwise from top left): Leanne Ciancone (Spencer's On The Water Front), Nicholas Pearce (Tannin Fine Wines), Lindsay Niven-Gorman (Granite Club), Xavier Pinto (PKF Consulting), Alexandra Murphy (Food Network and Grace), Rory Gallagher (Mildred's Temple Kitchen), Miranda Fong (Stratus Vineyard) and Ryan Donovan (Cowbell).

When J. Charles Grieco started the Ontario Hostelry Institute 20 odd years ago, it was because the veteran Toronto restaurateur and his colleagues were concerned about finding knowledgeable young professionals in the Hospitality industry. “As the European nations began to do better, we lost our source of trained new workers who came from a tradition of Western hospitality.” Orginally, Grieco led an appeal to the Ontario government to create a private hospitality college to train students in the fine dining arts, but the mandarins opted to bolster the existing colleges and he set up the OHI to help promising students expand on their training there. The institute offers top students a number of scholarships to assist them with their studies and even help them take stages abroad. Pastry chef Bettina Schormann, who is being inducted as Fellow of the institute this year, famously worked in New York and Paris on an OHI scholarship, which she writes about in the best selling Earth To Table, co-authored with Chef Jeff Crump. (Full disclosure: I am also a Fellow of the Ontario Hostelry Institute.)

The also OHI began acknowledging key performers in the industry, by establishing the Gold Awads. 2010 marks the 20th awards dinner and  inductees include the Rubino brothers and Anna and Michael Olson. Each year the OHI also inducts a number of high-profile Fellows. Up and coming hospitality professionals inducted as fellows this year include marketer Rebecca leHeup, chef Jonathan Gushue and farmer Antony John. (Watch for full GFR coverage of all Gold Award Winners and Fellows next week.) The winners and fellows are celebrated at an annual Gala Dinner which in turn, raised the money needed to provide OHI scholarships. Click here to buy tickets or find out more.

If the Gold Awards recognize great achievement, and the Fellowships recognize up and coming movers and shakers, then the OHI’s Top 30 Under 30 Awards recognize great promise, talent and determination. Grieco explains that Top 30 awardees are nominated by their peers and are drawn from every corner of the hospitality industry. Indeed, this years winners, who were announced and celebrated at reception on March 30th  at George Brown College, come form a wide array of organisations. On the figurative podium were youn prfessionals from such diverse business as Tim Horton’s, Cowbell Restaurant, Status Vineyards and The Royal York Hotel.

The reception attracted a small crowd of hospitality big-wigs, including Peter Oliver, partner and driving force in Oliver-Bonacini Restaurants. Oliver, a long-time OHI supporter, sees programs like the Top 30 Under 30 as integral to the improvement and professionalization of the  industry: “We get the top people now, as students realize there is great opportunity for creativity in the restaurant business.”

To see a full list Top 30 Under 30 awardees, click here.

Malcolm Jolley is the editor of Good Food Revolution.