Feb. 27 - Mar. 1, 2022

Enercare Centre, Toronto

Award Of Excellence Event

Congratulations to our 2021 Award Winners

Canada’s restaurant and foodservice industry is powered by passionate, innovative and creative people, from business owners and chefs to frontline staff and suppliers, and the many others who team up to serve more than 22 million customers every day. Restaurants Canada recognizes excellence in our industry through an annual awards program.


Leadership Award

Zita Cobb - Founder & CEO, Shorefast Group

As a Fogo Island native, our winner has dedicated her life to building cultural and economic resilience on Fogo Island. In the early 2000’s, she began to build the Shorefast Foundation’s initiatives, in an effort to bring the Island back from the brink of extinction. Fogo Island Inn was opened in 2013, not to make a financial return but because...as quoted... “they were in a community that needed to put another life in our economy.” Shorefast Foundation now employs a quarter of the population on Fogo Island. Their social enterprises, The Woodshop on Fogo Island, Fogo Island Fish and the Inn aim to generate 15 per cent in profits to be invested back into charitable programs. In 2016, she was awarded the Order of Canada and in 2020 she was one of four inductees into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame. In October 2020, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey announced her as one of the members of the Premier’s Economic Recovery Team. She believes that "At the centre of a community...is its economy. If there's no economy...there's no community.” It’s this motto that has guided her throughout a successful career in hospitality...and one that has revitalized an entire community.


Culinary Excellence

Chris Zielinski - Culinary Director, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE)

In his role, Chris has elevated game night cuisine and challenged our perceptions of what dining out at a sporting event entails. He has also spearheaded a company-wide commitment to sustainable practices as well as initiatives that source local ingredients, recycle cooking oil into biofuel, and use biodegradable products. He is pivotal in prioritizing strong community partnerships, and his team rescues thousands of meals in our spaces and distributes them to those in need through Second Harvest. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Chris created the “Bringing Toronto Back To Its Feet” program. By turning the Scotiabank Area into Toronto’s largest kitchen, and by gathering ingredient donations from a number of partners, Chris and his team were able to support and thank Toronto’s frontline health workers and their families, and to protect the city’s most vulnerable population.

SUZANNE BARR<br><span>Chef, Social Advocate, Author, Suzanne Barr Food</span>

Social Advocacy

Suzanne Barr - Chef, Social Advocate, Author, Suzanne Barr Food

Chef Suzanne Barr is not just a chef. she is also a community leader—and speaks as passionately about mentorship as she does about food. She is a strong advocate for people of colour, mental wellness, equal pay for equal work, LGBTQ communities, nutrition literacy and food source sustainability. In June 2018, Suzanne was able to showcase her love of social advocacy and food when she was chosen to participate in the James Beard Foundation Chef’s Bootcamp at the New Farm in Collingwood, ON. In 2018, at the Women In Hospitality United symposium in New York City, she presented The Dinette’s Program, a cooperative training program providing an opportunity to learn, co-create, effective solutions for workplaces, and enhancing business productivity while promoting the next generation of women as industry leaders. In the fall of 2019, she was Head Chef/Owner at True True Diner in Toronto, Canada. This concept is a mirror of her unique culinary repertoire and social advocacy. While now closed, her official statement calls out a pattern of the systematic disenfranchisement of BIPOC owned and operated businesses in the restaurant industry and beyond.


Innovation Award

Gastronomous Technologies

This year’s winner designed a ground-breaking innovation that realizes the kitchen of the future. This robust, scalable and cost-effective solution will allow restaurants to improve their cost-structure, efficiency, and scalability. In return providing their customers with superior consistency, hygiene and food quality. This proudly Canadian kitchen innovation is inspired by automotive engineers to address the needs of our industry.

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Legacy Award

Anita Stewart

This year we are honouring Anita Stewart, a pioneer in Canada’s culinary landscape. As a Member of the Order of Canada, Food Laureate at the University of Guelph, the President of Food Day Canada & Flavours of Canada (these are just a few of the accolades Anita accumulated throughout her life), Restaurants Canada was proud to work with Anita and the Food Day Canada theme to promote Canadian terroir. Anita’s motto - “Canada IS food and the world is richer for it”, stands today as a reminder not just of Anita’s incredible achievements, but also of our goals, as we work through these challenging times.