Shinan Govani

TIFF 2014

TIFF Spotted

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Spotted: Reese Witherspoon at Nota Bene

(Image: Kayla Rocca)

(Image: Kayla Rocca)

Shinan Govani tweeted Sunday night that Reese Witherspoon had been spotted enjoying an informal dinner at Nota Bene. There’s been no word on whether or not the Queen West restaurant was hosting a cast party for the movie Witherspoon had debuted earlier that day, The Good Lie, and Nota Bene won’t confirm the star’s attendance. Co-owner Yannick Bigourdan said in an email that he is contractually bound “not to talk about the event that took place last night at Nota Bene.”

You can find where your favourite A-lister was spotted on our TIFF celebrity map. See someone famous around town yourself? Let us know at tips@torontolife.com, or tweet with the hashtag #TIFF14spotted.

The Informer

People

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Q&A: departing National Post columnist Shinan Govani on life with the city’s glitter girls and power players

After 12 years and 6,623 parties, Toronto’s gossip guy of record is parting ways with the National Post. Here, Shinan Govani dishes on on his favourite celeb encounter, why Toronto could totally support a Real Housewives series and whether he’s ever puked into Hilary Weston’s shoes* (*he has not)

shinan-govani

Govani with Tanya Kim (left) and Katie Couric (right)

You have met innumerable celebs on the job—who sticks out as being the most amazing?
It was pretty groovy when I went to a little party a few years ago and Liza Minnelli sang in my face. There are probably a lot of more au courant movie stars I could name, but…

More au courant than Liza!?
Ha! But really, she was more than a star. She is so iconic—it was like the Eiffel Tower coming to life.

The Toronto “scene” is sort of it’s own beast, wouldn’t you say?
Yes, though there’s been sort of a flat-lining of the things that distinguish one large metropolis from another. Everyone watches the same media and gets information at the same time. Today some kid in his basement in Ajax can see the same things they’re seeing at Milan Fashion Week. This globalization has led to a more acute sense of strutting and peacocking here in Toronto.

But aren’t we a little more reserved here? People say the Real Housewives franchise wouldn’t work in Toronto because our rich people here are so discrete in terms of dirty laundry.
I don’t really buy that. Nobody had heard of Bethenny Frankel or Countess LuAnn before the Real Housewives turned them into stars. It’s not like actual high society types are doing that show in any city and I think it’s overly pious to think that ambitious star fuckery doesn’t exist here. It does.

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The Dish

Restaurants

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The Harbord Room team is taking over neighbouring Messis

Shinan Govani broke the news that the team from The Harbord Room is tightening its grip on Harbord Street with the acquisition of Messis, the long-standing (and much bigger) continental restaurant a few doors down. Harbord Room chef Cory Vitiello told The Dish that he takes possession March 1, and hopes to reopen with a new name and concept six weeks later, following a thorough renovation. The kitchen is going to be headed by Harbord Room chef de cuisine Curt Martin (Vitiello is mostly staying put) with a menu similar in style to the Harbord Room’s, if a little more accessible in price. After renovations are complete, the new, as-yet unnamed restaurant is going to have a lively back bar and a huge 60-seat patio. It’s not, however, going to have The Harbord Room’s trademark pink walls (those are staying put).

The Dish

Restaurants

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Parisian macaron creator Ladurée may (or may not) be opening a Toronto location

Ladurée was the first bakery to incorporate a layer of ganache between two meringue rounds to form a modern macaron (Image: Louis Beche)

National Post society and gossip columnist Shinan Govani set Twitter a-titter yesterday after dropping one of his signature random tips:

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The Informer

People

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THE SCENE: Legendary models and Toronto’s fashion elite at Joe Mimran’s bash at the ROM

Leave it to Joe Mimran to throw the ultimate pre-Fashion Week shindig. A private screening of Versailles ’73 at the ROM on Saturday eve drew Toronto’s most notable dressers, along with legendary models Pat Cleveland, Alva Chinn and Karen Bjornson. The flick revisits a fashion show held at Versailles nearly four decades ago, in which a swarm of American models, many of whom were black, wowed the stuffy Parisian establishment. Following the screening, we trotted upstairs after Catherine Nugent, director Deborah Riley Draper, and the Beckerman sisters (both dressed in sparkly floor-length numbers) to a room outfitted with a runway and macaron trees in white and orange (this was a Joe Fresh event, after all).

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TIFF TIFF Parties

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TIFF PARTY: The annual George Christy luncheon attracted an impeccably turned-out crowd of stars and power brokers

TIFF PARTY: George Christy

It must be a precondition of being wealthy, famous or otherwise fabulous to look perfectly fresh the morning after a night on the town. Or perhaps the guests at the annual George Christy TIFF cocktail party and luncheon all spent sun up in a vat of Olay, because at noon sharp on Saturday, the A-list was immaculately turned out as they filed into the ballroom of the still unopened Four Seasons Hotel (the official unveil is October 5). Christy himself, who has hosted this event for the last 28 years, greeted guests at the door, looking modern in a suit jacket paired with sneakers. Hilary and Galen Weston (who looked elegant enough to be eating with the Queen, or at least Kate Middleton) mingled with Ben Mulroney, while Ewan McGregor sipped lemonade, posed for phone photos and chatted with Shinan Govani (who, in turn, chatted with just about everyone). Salman Rushdie, Deepa Mehta, Paul Haggis, Atom Egoyan, Suzanne Boyd and FASHION’s Bernadette Morra were also in attendance. But perhaps the event’s most charming guest was Conrad Black, who, despite his recent prison release and ongoing battle to retain his Order of Canada, worked the room with a keen, bright glint in his eye (as opposed to the broken, escaped-from-Oz look one might expect). Indeed, he almost had us convinced he could actually make a comeback to his former soaring status as a newspaper baron.

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TIFF TIFF Parties

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TIFF PARTY: Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson and other celebs revive a flagging Seven Psychopaths party

Sam Rockwell, Abbie Cornish and Woody Harrelson (Image: Lu Chau/Photoganist)

It’s odd when a party with not one but two VIP areas (a ground-floor zone and another on the second level) suffers a noticeable dearth of VIPs. Such was very nearly the case last night at the Seven Psychopaths premiere party at Patria, Charles Khabouth and Hanif Harji’s yet-to-open King West restaurant. The darkly romantic space was far from full for most of the evening. After Abbie Cornish walked the red carpet in a red Giuiletta gown, the small press clutch packed away their cameras and moved on. There was a second burst of excitement when Woody Harrelson (wearing a grey suit, a TIFF baseball cap pulled low and flip flops) snuck in through a side door with his entourage, but it wasn’t enough to keep guests from trickling out (one young lady was even overhead saying, “This is a lot less fun than I thought it would be”). Those who stuck it out were rewarded though because, before we could declare the event dead, both Christopher Walken and Colin Farrell dropped in, upping the star quotient considerably (Shinan Govani later observed that the party had a five-to-one ratio of celebs to regular people).

TIFF TIFF Parties

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TIFF PARTY: Emily Blunt and John Krasinski have a threesome with a moose at Soho House

TIFF PARTY: Emily Blunt and John Krasinski have a threesome with a moose at Soho House

At long last, the much-anticipated, members-only, super-impossible-to-sneak-into Soho House opened its permanent Toronto location last night. Looper’s post-premiere party served as the first of what will be many TIFF bashes. The film’s opening-night screening marked the first time in years the festival opened with a Hollywood blockbuster—a snub to CanCon, perhaps, but it proved to be a boon for star-stalkers. The celeb count was high for an opening-night soirée: Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Tate Donovan and Jason Reitman all attended. For all the gossip, check out the first edition of our dispatches from Soho House below—by onsite bureau chief Courtney Shea.

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The Informer

People

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Party Pages: The Dark Knight Rises premiere after-party at Wayne Manor

The Dark Knight Rises Toronto premiere

Nestor Carbonell plays the mayor of Gotham in The Dark Knight Rises (Image: George Pimentel/WireImage)

One of the most anticipated films of the year, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, premiered last night at Scotiabank Theatre in all its IMAX glory. Cast members Matthew Modine and Nestor Carbonell were present (alas, there was no sign of Anne Hathaway, Christian Bale and Joseph Gordon-Levitt), but it was starlet Sarah Gadon who really stole the show—her frosty blonde locks stood out in the crowd, and her draped black cocktail dress was just coquettish enough. After the popcorn was eaten and the nearly three-hour-long film finished, guests moved on to a Dark Knight gala at 1 King West, which for one night only was converted into Wayne Manor. That project involved glossy couches, spotlights, live bats in a cage (shoved in a corner and not looking too pleased to be there) and an assembly of women who were hired to observe the party from a balcony and cast flirty glances at anyone who made eye contact (it was like Eyes Wide Shut, but without public, somewhat awkward looking, intercourse). There was much to see, from the replica Batman, Bane and Catwoman costumes to eTalk’s Ben Mulroney interviewing guests on a small stage (how he could hear anything, we’re not sure).

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The Informer

People

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Party Pages: The Worthy 30, where people weren’t afraid to run their mouths about pretty young things

The National Post’s Worthy 30 list came out in late June, but the celebration for the eligible bachelors and bachelorettes took place last night at furniture shop Studio B, where the Grey Goose was plentiful and the air conditioner was cranked to its highest possible setting (we were deeply relieved, as it was stifling outside). The event almost felt like a graduation party: the now-pregnant Holt Renfrew publicist Jennifer Daubney, one of last year’s inductees, told Fashion magazine’s Randi Bergman that she’s “passing the baton.” But guests seemed curious about what, if anything, the W30 title actually entails. As far as we can discern, it’s the National Post’s way of congratulating the hard work of men and women who are contributing members of Toronto society (and are, for the most part, young and somewhat attractive).

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The Dish

Restaurants

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These Booths Were Made for Gawking: who sits where at La Société

These Booths Were Made for Gawking

The cuisine is supremely so-so, but the glitzy atmosphere and A-plus people-watching at La Société—the crown jewel of Toronto’s see-and-be-seen scene—more than make up for it. Here, the inside scoop on who sits where.

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The Informer

People

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PARTY PAGES: Power Ball, where you will never run out of meat, alcohol or pretty things to look at

A party like the Power Plant gallery fundraiser Power Ball: Quarter-Life Crisis hasn’t happened in Toronto since the Dangerous Method fete at Soho House last TIFF. The celebrity presence may not have been there, but the attitude was the same: old biddies, artists, hipsters, PR gals and banker bros all partied together, taking in unusual art while drinking a lot (a lot) and eating wild bison sandwiches prepared by celebrity chef Marc Thuet in between emergency dance breaks. A party of such esteem isn’t without its boldface names, and we saw Belinda Stronach, writer Victoria Webster, the Globe and Mail’s Gabe Gonda, gossip columnist Shinan Govani, Zoomer’s Suzanne Boyd, artist Rui Amaral, eTalk’s Tanya Kim, designer Jeremy Laing, accessories designer Maryam Keyhani, socialite Jenna Bitove and The Society’s Ashleigh Dempster and Amanda Blakley.

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The Dish

Restaurants

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Joanne Kates to leave the Globe after 38 years (UPDATED)

If the Twitterverse is to be believed (and no less a figure than Shinan Govani has confirmed it, so it must be true, right?), Joanne Kates, the long-time Globe and Mail restaurant critic, will publish her last review in the paper this Saturday. As NOW’s Joshua Errett notes, the perennial Scaramouche lover was a prominent practitioner of the old-time hat-over-the-eyes school of criticism, although like most critics she didn’t entirely manage to keep her likeness under wraps. No word yet on who might replace her, or which restaurant will receive the honour of her final bit of praise or skewering.

UPDATE: We recently heard from Kates, who told us in an email, “38 years was a great run—and long enough. I didn’t need the grind of a weekly column any more.” As for what’s next for her, she noted that her “voice will not be silent.” Case in point: her iOS app.

Kevin Siu, the executive editor of features at the Globe, told the Dish that Kates’ last review will indeed run this Saturday, followed next Saturday by a column reflecting on her nearly four decades reviewing Toronto restaurants (her first Globe column has been scanned and uploaded). “She’s been the defining voice in Toronto dining for a long time,” Siu said, “and we do look forward to continuing to work with her.” The paper’s new critic will be announced on Tuesday, followed by an online chat between the two critics on May 28.

UPDATE (May 22 @ 2:30 p.m.): The Globe has announced that Chris Nuttall-Smith will be its new food critic.

The Informer

People

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The Scene: Fashion Cares 25 launches without Elton John and Jeanne Beker

Last night at Charles Khabouth’La Société, Fashion Cares event co-chair Michael King and artistic director Philip Ing gathered Toronto’s high society, fashion media and PR professionals to launch the event’s 25th anniversary. Ing announced to the crowd that this year’s mega-AIDS fundraiser will be downsizing to an intimate 3,400 seats (previous engagements hosted over 8,000 people), and also revealed that Sir Elton John will be bringing an assortment of his performance costumes to display during the event. A mass of people like Zoomer’s Suzanne Boyd, Flare’s Lisa Tant, Men’s Fashion’s David Livingston, hairstylist Robert Gage, eTalk’s Tanya Kim, NKPR’s Natasha Koifman and more sweated it out whilst packed inside the salon-style bar, leading society columnist Shinan Govani to remark, in an “ah ha!” way, that “fashion people do care.” The setting’s old-school charms made it seem like an old Hollywood affair—flashes went off (in place of flash bulbs and smoke), capturing the likes of philanthropist David Nugent nestled in the corner of a leather bankette, taking in the sights while his wife Catherine chatted with friends. After an encounter with the laid-back Nugents, we ran into Rich Bride, Poor Bride’s rambunctious David A. Vallee, who was quite insistent that we be introduced to BMO’s corporate donations gal Nada Ristich. Vallee alleged that she’s been bankrolling Fashion Cares since the beginning, but Ristich bashfully chimed in, saying that it hasn’t quite been from the get-go.

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The Goods

Designers

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Joe Fresh knocks it out of the park for ladies with his fall/winter 2012 collection, but what about the fellas?

W. Bruce C. Bailey worships at the church of Joe Freezy (Image: Jenna Marie Wakani)

It was a strange scene at last night’s Joe Fresh show. Not only was there no gargantuan lineup to get into the runway room, but all operations ran smoothly without a hitch (none that we could see, anyway—the show was more or less on time). Guests piled in, including Catherine and David Nugent, Joe Mimran’s wife and Pink Tartan designer Kimberley Newport-Mimran, Holt Renfrew’s Moira Wright and Jennifer Daubney, king and queen of the Loblaw throne Alexandra Weston and Galen Weston Jr., CBC’s Kristine Stewart, Dragons’ Den’s Arlene Dickinson, philanthropist W. Bruce C. Bailey (who enthusiastically got down on one knee to offer Mimran a single orange flower during his finale walk), society columnist Shinan Govani, designer Evan Biddell (who returned to Toronto last night after over a year in Vancouver—he’s taking over Wayne Clark’s old studio), PR bigwigs Suzanne Cohon and Susan Chong, MTV host Aliya-Jasmine Sovani, plastic surgeon to the society stars Dr. Trevor Born and more. Needless to say, people with a little bit of cash and people with a lot come for Joe Freezy, and we’re happy to report that the show went ahead without any major sartorial misses—but there were some minor ones.

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