Will Predhomme

The Dish

Restaurants

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Terroir 2012 recap: what we saw, heard and ate at the big annual food industry meet-up

Kevin Gilmour (sous chef at The Drake Hotel) was assisted by his crew at this pork carving station. Hunks of roasted pork were served over a peanut-ginger slaw (Image: Renée Suen)

Last week, 500 members or so of Canada’s food and hospitality industry gathered for Terroir VI at the newly renovated Arcadian Court. The theme for this year’s symposium was “The New Radicals,” a new generation of chefs that have a collaborative and unconventional approach to cuisine despite their conventional training. Symposium chair Arlene Stein had arranged a line up of the industry’s finest from Canada and abroad, assembled on panels featuring restaurateurs, writers and chefs from the old and new vanguard—most attendees agreed this year’s crop was the best yet (before the event we spoke to Australian chef Ben Shewry, as well as sustainable aquaculture champion Barton Seaver and natural wine advocate Alice Feiring.).

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The Dish

Drinks

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Bruce Wallner wins top prize at Ontario sommelier competition

(Image: Shannon Hamilton)

Toronto master sommelier Bruce Wallner (Paese, Mideastro) took first place at the Best Ontario Sommelier Competition at The Fifth Grill and Terrace on Sunday. Wallner beat out 15 other wine experts in the competition, which consisted of a written theory test and a blind tasting in front of a live audience. Waller will now go on and represent Ontario at the national competition in Halifax on September 17 and 18, where he’ll be competing alongside Will Predhomme of Canoe, who won the 2010 competition. Apart from the “Best Ontario Sommelier” title, Wallner also walked away with trips to Germany, Napa and Argentina. We hear they’ve got some pretty decent wine there.

The Dish

Drinks

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The sipper club: meet the city’s competitive cabal of top sommeliers

Will Predhomme belongs to a competitive cabal of top sommeliers who sniff, sip and spit their way through hundreds of bottles a week. They do this to help you decide what to drink with your dinner, while making you think it was your idea all along

One hundred and fifty-one people have reservations at Canoe tonight. Among these are many Bay Streeters, a couple celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary, dozens of people on dates, including the bar manager from Crush, and a young woman who plans to propose to her boyfriend over dinner. The two private dining rooms are fully booked.

Canoe, part of the ever-expanding Oliver and Bonacini empire, is routinely considered one of the finest restaurants in the city. Last summer, in a rigorous competition held by the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers, known as CAPS, Canoe’s head sommelier, Will Predhomme, was proclaimed Ontario’s best. Predhomme has devoted a third of his life—he’s 29—to wine scholarship. He now knows more about wine than almost anyone in Toronto.

Just after 5 p.m., the bar area begins to fill up with commuters sipping cocktails as they wait for the traffic on the clogged Gardiner, 54 floors below, to dissipate. One of the restaurant’s first guests, a retired trial lawyer, arrives. As a young female host escorts him to his large corner table, he puts an arm around her shoulder. “I don’t like to pay bills,” he says. “I want a fucking account. Last time I was here, I offered those ladies”—referring to the hosts who greeted him at his last visit—“$300 and told them to set up an account for me. And I still don’t have one.” He and his three dining companions, Canoe regulars, have brought in several bottles of their own wine, including a cabernet franc from the ex-lawyer’s private vineyard in Tuscany. When Predhomme arrives at the table to discuss the wine, the ex-lawyer, captivatingly bratty in a way that only the rich and sort-of-powerful can be, repeats his complaint. “Look, I spend about $50,000 a year at Bymark, and I’d do the same here if I had a fucking account.” Predhomme is unmoved, but gracious. “If you give me your contact information,” he says, “I’ll make sure that it gets to the right people.”

“You’ll get me an account?”

“I’ll look into it.”

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