Chefs Level Up to the Restaurants Canada Show

Level Up was the theme for Restauarants Canada’s world-class conference held last week in Toronto at the Enercare Center. The three day event with over a thousand presenters, 146 speakers, 96 sessions, and 9 competitions across 8 stages, lived up to the expectation of pushing our games up to a new level.

Food truck corner on the show floor.

Chef Cameron Huley and the team at Food Service Solutions have leading technology.

Amazing science of aging.

Highlighting the show for me were the variety of competitions where talent faced-off for cash and prizes at annual culinary, cocktail, coffee, shucker, sandwich and pizza competitions. The grandest being the Garland Canada Culinary Competition. Restaurants Canada and Garland Canada continue their commitment to Canada’s thriving and passionate culinary community by showcasing its top emerging talent at the annual Garland Canada Culinary Competition. Competitors from colleges across the country had to prove their skills and creativity in front of a panel of esteemed judges. Chefs crafted dishes that reflect the 2024 RC Show theme – Level Up.


Chef Steven Donnelly,  part of the Garland Canada Culinary Competition team.

This year’s competitors crafted a classic dish from their childhood or early career in a way that takes the dish to the next level. The dish would be suitable for restaurant service (efficient, streamlined, cost-effective) and tell their Level Up story. The competition’s diversity and inclusion mandate held space for 50% of the competitors to be women and prioritizes BIPOC culinary talent. After two days of competition, Chef Kalyan Chakraborty of George Brown College was the winner. He is employed at Richmond Station.

Garland Canada Culinary Competition winner Chef Kalyan Chakraborty of George Brown College.

The twenty thousand professionals that attended the show had the opportunity to get actionable advice from the industry’s top experts through keynotes, discussion panels and workshops. The RC Show spans 300,000 sq. ft. and safely welcomed up to 5,000 people on the Show floor at any given time, allowing ample space to follow physical distancing guidelines. The experience featured a dynamic trade show where operators could shop for innovative solutions and connect with trusted suppliers across the show floor. With the exception of a small electrical fire offering a little excitement, the show went off without a hitch.

The top educational session for me was on Indigenous Traditions , Tastes and Today presented by Farm Credit Canada (FCC). With a heightened focus on cultural preservation and sustainability, Indigenous chefs and leaders in the foodservice industry engaged in a thoughtful dialogue on harmonizing traditional practices with creative innovation. ICAN and thought leaders explored how Indigenous foodservice not only nourishes local communities but also contributes to a more inclusive and supportive environment. Session moderator was Jenni Lessard, Interim Executive Director, ICAN Indigenous Culinary of Associated Nations and she led a dialogue between Christa Bruneau Guenther, Chef/Owner, Feast Cafe Bistro, Tammy Maki, Chef/Founder, Raven Rising Enterprises Ltd.. and Chris Commandant, Chef, 1 Elgin Restaurant. Their insight was illuminating. It appears we are moving in the right direction. The addition of pavilions to the exhibition allowed a specific area where Indigenous business and stakeholders could meet and mingle and is a great asset to the event.

In addition to the Indigenous Pavilion there were other pavilions included the show ; Bar & Beverage Pavilion where you could discover the latest bar and beverage innovations, products, data-driven insights and technique; the Canada Pavilion showcasing the immense reach and breadth of our country’s offerings, and celebrating the quality and innovation produced ; The Coffee Tea and Sweets Pavilion with displays of latte art workshops to the latest in brewing technology, you could find everything you need for your cafe under one area ; The Design Pavilion where you take your guest experience to the next level with the latest decor, tableware and restaurant design innovations; The Eco Pavilion was the destination to learn about opportunities to green your business operations to conserve energy and reduce costs ; The Indigenous Pavilion showcased the unique flavours and products from First Nations, Métis and Inuit companies across Canada; The ONTARIO PAVILION was where you can discover local products and artisanal goods while learning about the positive contribution shopping and eating local can have on the economy and the environment ; QUEBEC PAVILION showcased the best from la belle province. We tasted the ­­­diversity of cuisine and shop regional products from across the province; TECH PAVILION  about taking you from mobile apps to modern menu boards, reservation systems and POS systems, there was something for every size and scale of business; The World pavilion showcased  a true mosaic of international flavours as well as cutting-edge technology and equipment; and THE BLACK EXPERIENCE PAVILION which celebrated and connected Black entrepreneurs, producers and farmers with operators and buyers. The pavilions provided excellent focus areas to communicate with stakeholders.


Canadian Chefs Picnic by Andore (and/or)

The experience that really took this show to another level for me was the exclusive, in-show RC Pop Up Experience delivered by Executive Chef Missy Hui and the and/ore (Andore) restaurant team. They invited all RC Show attendees to reserve a table for two to six people to enjoy a modern Canadian Chef’s Picnic with paired cocktails. With limited tables available, it was an event not to be missed. In their unique pavilion, surrounded by stunning photos of the food and environ of the restaurant, the capable servers interpreted the menu and concept with flawless precision. Informative descriptions of the menu and concept were given just as we were about to ask. I am so glad I did not miss this unique oasis and the unforgettable experience at RC Show 2024.


Ballotine is back!!!

Delight-fully Deviled


And before I knew it the show was over. What an eye opening experience! It had been a number of years since I last attended this food show and I had forgotten how much a good trade show can do to “level up” your game. The RC Show and the culture around it has grown and exploded into the greatest food show in Canada and they should be proud to be the unifying force getting us back on our feet and running.

#RCShow succeded in getting me to #LEVELUP my game.