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Toronto’s 50 Most Influential: the people who changed the city in 2014

Toronto's 50 Most Influential

It’s been a big year in the corridors of power, with an infusion of ambitious new leaders in the city’s most influential institutions. Here, our annual ranking of political rainmakers, Bay Street moguls, real estate gurus, major league sports stars, celebrity chefs, culture czars, and everyone else who matters now. In a nutshell: the people whose smarts, connections and clout are changing Toronto as we know it.

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Review: Nodo, the Junction’s new red-sauce restaurant, serves crowd-pleasing (if unrefined) classics

(Image: Jackie Pal)

(Image: Jackie Pal)

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Nodo 1 star
2885 Dundas St. W., 416-901-1559
Nodo 1 star
2885 Dundas St. W., 416-901-1559

Across from the Indie Ale House microbrewery and beside Cantina’s taco party, comes a solid new red-sauce restaurant—the third point in a triangle of dining trends. The owners are three Italian guys who’ve been friends since high school, and they’ve seemingly instilled that happy, known-you-forever warmth in their servers. The large, checker-board-floored space is entirely comfortable: bare wood tables are topped with bread baskets and banquettes are filled with post-work marrieds. The Sicilian-focused menu is equally as casual, with the extensive boot-based wine list divided by price (bottles under $35, under $55) and the pastas and pizzas outnumbering the tiny mains section by the dozen.

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Review: The fusion cooking at Patois is bold, ambitious and strangely satisfying

(Image: Caroline Aksich)

(Image: Caroline Aksich)

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Patois 1 star ½
794 Dundas St. W., 647-350-8999
Patois 1 star ½
794 Dundas St. W., 647-350-8999

The latest fusion to hit the Toronto dining scene is Asian-Caribbean, courtesy of chef Craig Wong, whose Chinese family lived in Jamaica for three generations. The room feels just like an island patio—it’s loud, kitschy, crowded and sweltering. Wong swirls together jerk, hoisin and five-spice into strangely satisfying combinations.

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Review: Thoroughbred on Richmond Street West is an excellent post-work party spot

(Image: Caroline Aksich)

(Image: Caroline Aksich)

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Thoroughbred 2 star
304 Richmond St. W., 416-551-9221
Thoroughbred 2 star
304 Richmond St. W., 416-551-9221

The DJ’s electro-indie-pop thrums and the well-crafted cocktails go down far too easy at this quintessential after-work party spot. The owners debuted their high-low concept at the Underground Market, where they sold foie gras pop tarts. Thoroughbred’s sharing menus (one vegetarian, one omnivorous) have that same winning mash-up.

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Bay Street moguls, celebrity chefs, condo kings and the Mayor-elect: The who’s who of Toronto celebrate Toronto Life’s 50 Most Influential People of 2014

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(Image: George Pimentel Photography)

Last night, Toronto Life hosted the city’s top politicians, power brokers, celebrity chefs and media personalities to celebrate the launch of its annual list of Toronto’s 50 Most Influential people. 400 notable invitees convened at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Toronto, to honour the inspiring individuals who made a positive impact to the city this year. Guests of honour included Mayor-elect John Tory, Donna Quan (TDSB), Jennifer Keesmaat (City Hall), John Ruffolo (OMERS Ventures), Mike Wekerle (Difference Capital), Robert Deluce (Porter Airlines), Matt Galloway (CBC), George Stroumboulopoulos (Hockey Night in Canada), Sara Diamond (OCAD), Andy Byford (TTC), Jeff Stober (The Drake), Susur Lee (Lee, Bent, Luckee) — plus notable guests Jeffrey Remedios, Lisa Tant, Rahul Bhardwaj, Jagmeet Singh, Daniel Faria, and more.

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Ten things Chris Hadfield can’t live without

The web-savvy spaceman’s first book is being turned into an ABC sitcom, and he has a follow-up out this month. Here, the 10 things he can’t live without

Ten things Chris Hadfield can't live without
01
My astronaut watch
It can keep track of mission elapsed time and multiple time zones, plus it has an ­extra-loud alarm that woke me up every morning on the space station. I wore it with a loose strap and it floated around my arm like a snake—a constant reminder of weightlessness.

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The Informer

Sports

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Best Seats in the House: a guide to the celebs and Bay Streeters who cheer on the Raptors

The high-profile spectators who’ve made Raps games the hottest ticket in Toronto sports

Celebrity Watch: Best Seats in the House

Half the fun of NBA fandom is peeping stars sitting courtside. Unfortunately, for a long time, Raps games were as celestial as a bag of fertilizer. No longer. Last fall, that rascally love-’em-leave-’em super-exec Tim Leiweke named Drake the organization’s global ambassador, and the wattage of home games suddenly surged. So did the fringe benefits of season’s tickets. Here, the luminaries who have sat courtside in the era of Drizzy, and the high-rolling fans who have a front-row view of all the action.

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Review: Leslieville’s Eastside Social may be the perfect neighbourhood local

(Image: Caroline Aksich)

(Image: Caroline Aksich)

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Eastside Social 2 star ½
1008 Queen St. E., 416-461-5663
Eastside Social 1 star ½
1008 Queen St. E., 416-461-5663

The ideal neighbourhood local—not too crowded, not too noisy, just-right prices—can be found in Leslieville. Eastside Social’s nautical theme (brass porthole outside, lobster trap–shaped lights within) is campy without being kitsch, and the food, cooked by former Ceili Cottage chef Chris Mentier, is refined comfort at its best.

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Review: Colette Grand Café is expensive, conservative and mostly good

(Image: Erin Leydon)

(Image: Erin Leydon)

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Colette Grand Café 1 star ½
550 Wellington St. W., 647-348-7000
Colette Grand Café 1 star ½
550 Wellington St. W., 647-348-7000

The new restaurant in the Thompson Hotel is ultra-polished and styled after an airy Riviera brasserie. It’s run by the Chase Hospitality Group and radiates—for better or worse, depending on your dining tastes—a corporate vibe.

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FLAVOURED TREND, NEW FLAVOURS

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Every whisky has its own flavour profile. Most Canadian whisky tastes of honey, maple and toffee. Flavoured whisky takes one of these notes and intensifies it. “That’s why it works so well,” says Don Livermore, master blender at Wiser’s. “It still tastes like whisky, but with a more pronounced flavour.” Here, Livermore explains the flavoured-whisky trend.
 
I’ve never tasted flavoured whisky before. What should I expect?
 
It tastes like whisky, but with one flavour in the forefront. “When you sip Wiser’s Spiced Torched Toffee, you’re still getting the oak, caramel and vanilla notes, but the toffee flavour dominates,” says Livermore. Forty Creek Spike Honey Spiced is made from the distillery’s Barrel Select whisky, with just a touch more honey flavour added to the recipe.
 
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Flavour vs. traditional — what’s the difference?
 
When you sip Crown Royal Maple Finished, it tastes like whisky that’s got a pronounced maple edge. Canadian Club Maple tastes like Canadian Club, but with a tad more maple on the tongue. “[And] like all Canadian whisky, it must be well-balanced and flavourful,” says Livermore.
 
What’s driving this trend?
 
“People are more curious to try new things these days, whether it’s spicy food or new cocktails,” says Livermore. Flavoured whisky offers a new taste experience, whether you’re a seasoned fan or new to whisky. “It also tends to be a bit smoother” notes Livermore, “making it the perfect way to get into whisky if you’ve never tried it.”
 
Neat, mixed, on ice —how do you serve it?
 
“Any way you want”, says Livermore. Like all Canadian whisky, these whisky blends can be enjoyed neat or on ice, or mixed into a cocktail. For example, Crown Royal Maple Finished offers a fresh, sweet twist to a Manhattan or Spicy Sour cocktail. “I like to sip the Wiser’s Torched Toffee neat,” says Livermore, “but it also goes really well mixed with ginger ale or cola.”

 

 


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    New FORTY CREEK SPIKE HONEY SPICED WHISKY

    Built upon the award-winning Forty Creek Barrel Select, this whisky brings honey to the forefront, along with vanilla and cinnamon. Slightly sweet, it makes for a refreshing highball cocktail or can be sipped neat after dinner.

    Reg: $27.95 | NOW $26.95
    SAVE $1.00 | 750 mL | 397109

  • LCBO

    New CANADIAN CLUB MAPLE WHISKY

    Canadian Club is one of the world’s best-loved whiskies. The Maple takes the classic recipe — clean, crisp and full of toffee and caramel — and amps it up with a maple note.

    Reg: $25.95 | NOW $24.95
    SAVE $1.00 | 750 mL | 394320

  • LCBO

    New WISER’S SPICED TORCHED TOFFEE

    Aged for three years, this whisky is both slightly sweet and lightly spiced for an unforgettable flavour. Add a dash of water or an ice cube to bring out its fruity aromas and caramelized toffee notes.

    $27.95 | 750 mL | 394346

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    JIM BEAM RED STAG HARDCORE APPLE BOURBON

    Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey Infused with natural flavours. Proprietary infusion process expertly blends the flavors, keeping the whiskey smooth and not too sweet. Distinctively fruity yet the familiar, rich nose of Jim Beam Bourbon shines through.

    Reg. $27.95 | NOW $26.95
    SAVE $1.00 | 750 mL | 398438

  • LCBO

    New CANADIAN CLUB 100% RYE

    Raise this rye to your mouth and you’ll taste the caramel and toffee goodness that Canadian Club is known for. Except here, you’re also getting a much bolder, spicier character, thanks to the high rye content. Sip in cocktails or on the rocks.

    Reg: $26.95 | NOW $25.45
    SAVE $1.50 | 750 mL | 390583

  • LCBO

    WISER’S SPICED VANILLA CANADIAN WHISKY

    J.P. Wiser’s® Spiced combines the uncompromising taste of J.P. Wiser’s® whisky with a hint of vanilla. A great tasting, versatile whisky, perfect for mixing with cola, ginger ale, or alone as a shooter.

    $27.95 | 750 mL | 292243

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Return of the High Ryes
 

Forget everything you thought you knew about rye. Real rye isn’t a blended whisky. And it doesn’t need to come from Canada. Bold and spicy, high rye is making a serious comeback. “These ryes are very flavourful and mix well into any whisky-based cocktail,” says Veronica Saye, the bartender at Toronto whisky bar Food & Liquor. Here, Saye explains the high-rye wave.
What is a high rye?
 
People often call Canadian whisky rye, but true rye has much more rye grain than you find in a blended whisky. In the U.S., where most rye comes from, the whisky must contain at least 51% rye grain. A “high rye,” such as Alberta Premium and George Dickel, contains 100% rye.
 
Why the sudden resurgence in ryes?
 
It has a lot to do with the bourbon boom. People began to realize that whisky can be sweet or spicy, subtle or bold, and that you can enjoy whisky many ways. I’ve been a bartender for more than 11 years, and it wasn’t until about five years ago that someone ordered a Sazerac. So we’re seeing a revival of both classic cocktails and classic spirits, such as rye.
 
Do all ryes taste the same?
 
The Bulleit rye is rich and oaky, with lots of vanilla, spice and heat on the palate, which I love. It’s great neat, or add a cube of ice to mellow it a bit. George Dickel is a bit more fruitforward and is a fantastic sipping whisky. Canadian Club 100% and Alberta Premium are both big rye whiskies, with lots of spice and caramel.
 
What can I expect from a rye cocktail?
 
Dryer than bourbon, rye adds a leaner profile that blends really nicely in a cocktail without overpowering the drink. Most classic cocktails — such as the Manhattan, Old-Fashioned and
Sazerac — originally called for rye whisky. High rye is a return to pre-Prohibition whisky. “It’s definitely my favourite whisky,” says Saye.
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Platinum Dining at Luma Restuarant

setting-top

American Express Platinum members were treated to an exclusive night showcasing an eclectic assortment of Toronto food trends. For Taste from Platinum at Luma, Chef Michael Wilson put his signature spin on street-level culinary trends of recent memory.

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Ten things Jamie Kennedy can’t live without

This month, the city’s most famous locavore releases his first cookbook in more than a decade. Here, the 10 things he can’t live without

Ten things Jamie Kennedy can't live without
01
My knife
I’ve been using a general-­purpose Global chef’s knife for a decade. I like the way it feels in my hand: a solid everyday work tool.

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Review: Mata serves good Brazilian bar snacks (and some of the best sliders in town)

(Image: Jackie Pal)

(Image: Jackie Pal)

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Mata 1 star
1690 Queen St. W., 647-691-0234
Mata 1 star
1690 Queen St. W., 647-691-0234

Felipe Faccioli, Tulio Lessa and Patrick Fraser, sharing chef duties, cannily opened their South American restaurant during World Cup, projecting matches on one wall and serving bracingly strong cocktails of Brazilian liquor. Even if you’ve never loved the beautiful game, their menu, composed of elevated sports bar snacks, will win you over.

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Review: Barsa Taberna’s multicultural tapas menu delivers some inspired dishes

(Image: Megan Leahy)

Barsa Taberna’s sangria cake with compressed melon (Image: Megan Leahy)

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Barsa Taberna 2 star½
26 Market St., 647-341-3642
Barsa Taberna 2 star½
26 Market St., 647-341-3642

Squint in this cavernous underground space late at night and you could be in a new-generation Barcelona tapas bar. At Barsa Taberna, the 19th-century stone arches and rough beams contrast with a backlit wall panel that’s a sexy Rorschach-like study in cobalt, black and white. After-workers and Corktown’s pretty young things suck back pitchers of white and red sangria, the sparkling version bright with cava and fresh berries.

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Review: Cellar Door brings the urban trattoria experience to Toronto’s outskirts

(Image: Renée Suen)

(Image: Renée Suen)

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Cellar Door 1 star½
3003 Lakeshore Blvd. W., 416-253-0303
Cellar Door 1 star½
3003 Lakeshore Blvd. W., 416-253-0303

Chef Robert Rubino brings the urban trattoria experience—original cocktails, handmade pastas, wood-burning-oven pizza, seasonal ingredients—to Toronto’s ever-expanding outskirts. A colourful caprese salad with orange and red cherry tomatoes and creamy burrata is a lovely starter.

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