Peter Oliver was inducted into the Pineapple Brigade at a small dinner and ceremony at The Chef’s House, on Tuesday, June 25th. Oliver is a founding partner of the Oliver & Bonancini Restaurants widely considered one of Canada’s most successful and innovative fine dining operations, with restaurants across Toronto, as well as Blue Mountain and Oakville. The ceremony, presided over by Ontario Hostelry Institute Chair, Charles Grieco, followed the George Brown College School of Hospitality and Tourism management convocation, where Oliver had received an honourary degree.
The Pineapple Brigade takes its name and emblem from the “universal symbol of hospitality”, Grieco explained to the attending group of top Ontario restaurant and hotel executives, chefs and winemakers. The OHI instituted the brigade as a way of celebrating the George Brown Hospitality honourary degree recipients among their accomplished peers. Past recipients have included Donna Dooher and Jamie Kennedy.
Oliver graciously accepted induction with a short speech, exclaiming, “I am really happy I chose the hospitality industry,” reminding his audience that he joined it as a second career, and adding that he is grateful for it due to “all the inspiring people I meet.” His success he attributed to his curiosity, telling the group, “I think about how much I still have to learn.”
By way of closing, Oliver told The Chef’s House diners, that the Pineapple Brigade had special resonance for him, owing to his youth in South Africa. “In the Eastern Cape, where I went to boarding school, the pineapples are the sweetest in the world; we would eat them at every meal, when they were in season.” It seems those pineapples may have been Oliver’s first taste of the hospitality business, as he confessed that he and his dorm mates made use of them away from the dining hall. Then, he proceeded to give the audience a detailed lesson in the brewing of pineapple beer.
Oliver ended the evening by eying one the fruits adorning the head table, and declaring that he might just try his hand at pineapple brewing again. Whether his efforts will be served at the bar at Canoe remain to be seen.
Malcolm Jolley is a founding editor of Good Food Revolution and Executive Director of Good Food Media, the company that publishes it. Follow him at twitter.com/malcolmjolley