The Royal: A 90-year-old matron gets hip
Mychol Scully – Toronto: The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair is getting a makeover. This year marks ninety years of livestock, equestrian events, healthy living, and all things agricultural on the grounds of Exhibition Place. To mark the 90th anniversary, event organizers have pumped up the excitement in a number of ways.
I had a chance to chat with new CEO of The Royal, Sandra Banks. She agreed that with a centenary approaching, this year will be an important one to raise brand awareness and broaden the event’s appeal across a broad spectrum of die-hard fans and new guests.
New this year, The Royal will extend its Chef Challenge into a multi-day event. Host of Food Network’s Top Chef, cookbook author and model, Padma Lakshmi, will host the Kick-Off Chef Challenge on Opening Day, Friday, November 2nd. Bob Blumer of Food Network’s Surreal Gourmet, Glutton for Punishment and World’s Weirdest Restaurants will host the Chef Challenge on Sunday, November 4th, while Australian chef and co-host of Food Network’s Around the World in 80 Plates, Curtis Stone will host the Chef Challenge Finale on Saturday, November 10th.
The media preview I attended included hors d’oeuvres from several of the chefs competing in this year’s Chef Challenge event. We sampled savoury treats from the kitchens of The Royal York, Westin Harbour Castle, The Hilton, and Thompson. All were impeccably prepared and their presentation was serious culinary art. There was definitely an intriguing aroma of reality TV about the event that may attract a new audience that might not usually be interested in equestrian competitions or livestock auctions.
In addition, the event will promote a Mixology Challenge featuring accomplished bartenders and mixologists from across the city.
Organizers are expecting more than 340,000 visitors during the event, which opens November 2, 2012, and runs for 9 days straight, closing on November 11. 2012. For more information, or to purchase tickets online, visit www.royalfair.org or call (416) 263-3400.