Environmentally & Socially Responsible Event Planning * Consulting * Staffing * Catering

What our clients say about us...

  • “You have extraordinary attention to detail. You took care of the little things (like the place setting utensil twine and the food platter you sent up to the girls’ room) that we didn’t even think about. We’d be able to tell future clients to feel confident that everything will be taken of with style, even the things they may not have thought of beforehand.” – John, on his wedding

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Destination: Plan B Organic Farm

Through my volunteering at Alpha II Alternative school, I finally had a wonderful opportunity to go with the students to their yearly visit to Plan B Organic Farm.

I was pretty hyped about this trip since it was something of a very important connection for me.  I needed to see for myself personally what a real working organic farm looks like.  Having one so close to the city really hits home the fact that we can have sustainable food sources locally and organic.

One of the first things that struck me is the way the farm is.  Its not your typical vast track of organized rows of plants and produce.  In fact it literally was quite an organic layout.  One of the owners of the farm Alvaro took us on a guided tour and showed us the benefits of all the key trees, plants and organisms that contribute to the richness of the soil.  What really struck me was the natural approach of letting nature balance itself in terms of soil conditions.  So much of the traditional farming is spent shaping land and chemically forcing it to be harvesting environment.  Here at Plan B Alvaro carefully balances all living things to contribute to the overall health of the soil and thereby producing organic food so close to Toronto!

One of the most stunning aspects of the tour was the organic shiitake grove.  Nestled in the heart of a patch of coniferous trees, they used felled logs with spore plugs.  It was truly a sight to behold as the forest gave off a quiet richness that one simply had to be there to experience it.  I had a chance find a fresh shiitake that missed the initial harvest and we all had a chance to try garlic, shiitake and other organic produce straight from the ground!

(left) - One of the few shiitakes that missed the last harvest. Om nom! You can literally eat them straight off the tree stump!

(right) - Our host, Farmer Alvaro shows us how the spores and cultured into natural and completely organic shiitake mushrooms

Organic Shiitake mushroom harvest in the making!

My trip buddy Evie gives a thumbs up to the organic garlic, shiitake and catnip we got to take home.  

A really big thank you goes out to Alvaro for giving us and especially myself an opportunity to see first hand organic farming at its finest.  Thank you too to the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment for funding the trip and Alpha II Alternative school for once again giving me the opportunity to volunteer and learn right along with the students.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Inspirational Underdog: WRC for $500

When I originally read this story on Jalopnik it was a complete and utter joy to read.

This story was a source of inspiration of a guy, doing something down right cool. He started with little money, a whole lot of time and the will to actually do the stuff he wants to do instead of just talking about it wistfully. One of those things was to compete in the World Rally Championship. He managed to do so with a $500.00 car he bought off Craigslist! To me this is all about following through on what you're passionate about, and a great inspiration to all entrepreneurs out there. (Especially to those that think you need to have a whole lot of money to start a venture and be successful)

Somewhere along the way I forgot about it and in some strange way found my way back to Jalopnik to find that article again. Re-reading that story is such an underdog inspiration to me that I simply had to post it on the blog.

There are some priceless lines in here that I simply have to quote the author of the blog post, Sam Smith, who is a good friend of Bill Caswell.

"I once asked Bill why he insisted on going through every spectator section crossed up and with the engine banging off the limiter. "Dude," he said, "I don't care if it costs me a couple of tenths. It makes the fans go nuts."

I love this portion because you know Bill Caswell is doing it for the love of it. Not just for the possibility of just cold hard cash and the sponsorship. To me, it speaks volumes about how spending time with the folks who take their time to support you is essential.

"Part One: First, We Broke A Lot"

As an entrepreneur you need to make mistakes. The more we made in our first year of operation the faster we learned. Most folks think mistakes are terrible things. Its something that is beaten into us through school. However, it is even more terrible to not learn from them. The important thing is striving and then striving for something greater. Its easy to play Dirt 3 and rally on your home PC, (which is still fricking fun!) its waaaay harder to follow through and rally like Bill
Caswell did.

"Part Two: Some Dude Mooned Us?"

Perhaps it seems odd, but one of the most important things is to enjoy the details. Even when its someone mooning you when you are flying down a dirt trail at 60-100 mph. In any given day someone mooning you would indeed be something strange. But doing a World Rally Championship event in a $500 BMW (that is older than most of your competitors who just happen to be driving $400,000 plus cars custom built for the job), and then getting mooned? Well that just adds to the experience doesn't it? The very same can be said when you do something awesome like follow your dreams and passions, every detail becomes all the more memorable and worth it.

"Part Three: We May or May Not Be Legit"

Legitmacy is something we all struggle with at one time or another. It even happens in school, with our peers and in the work place. As an entrepreneur this is was an epic struggle that always lurking around the corner. After facing it so many times it becomes familiar, through persistence it becomes less of a horror to encounter. Wrestling with the question of legitimacy becomes so second nature that through the defying and constant testing we end up getting tempered by it. We make it look easy with blase and simply kick butt. Its like that uber hard boss in Final Fantasy that you spend hours trying to defeat, and when you're 20 levels above it, kicking it down only nets you 1 or 2 xp. Before we even realize it legitimacy simply fails to matter anymore.

"Shit happens. (This is proof)"

I love this bumper sticker, because it remind me that some times you just have to let go. Shit will happen and having a tight rein on things is no way to go about running an event planning business. Its an organic process that you really need to adapt and roll with.

I really do hope they make a movie out of Bill Caswell's exploits!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Random Thoughts on Food

I had a half of a fresh made panini sandwich the other day.  It left much to be desired.

At first, I jumped at the idea of prosciutto with fig jelly toasted in a sandwich with the topping of bocconcini cheese on top.
Turns out, its a complete *yawn*!   I'd almost wish to serve this as a backup to NOT offend any pallet.

Things I would have done to spice it up:

1.) Dump the bocconcini - it added nothing to the other two, since you have sweet + sweet and + mostly lost texture.  The subtly of bocconcini is great for salad and for yummy simplistic appz like tomato and fresh basil ( which I might add is also pure kanso).  This sandwich needed a cheese that said "I am a cheese!".  Something stronger to compliment and yet counteract the sweetness of the figs and prosciutto

2.) Choose better prosciutto! - I was surprised at the amount of prosciutto on the sandwich.  It ended up being pretty gummy and hard to chew.  I find that good prosciutto is almost buttery and shreds easily as you bite into it.  I finished the rest of my sandwich during class and I felt and looked like a caveman using my hands to help masticate a buffalo because the prosciutto just wouldn't shred!  I've recently found a Spanish prosciutto that is pure buttery goodness and unique enough to be subtly different.

3.) I know it sounds a bit odd - but I like searing my prosciutto!  Oh my god it must be the Filipino genetics or something, but giving a slice of prosciutto a bit of heat really does open it up and give it an almost smokey flavour.  This would really shift the taste when its placed beside the sweetness of figs.  Perhaps then the bocconcini would make sense. Which reminds me - some other time I have to discuss the love of Sandwich Making.  It is an art and sadly this prosciutto panini was made without love.   See Arthur Dent -

`So,' said Old Thrashbarg to Arthur. `Is it written that Bob shall once more take back unto himself the benediction of his once-given sandwich maker?'
Ford almost went back into his crouch.
`It's all right,' muttered Arthur, `he always talks like that.' Aloud, he said, `Ah, venerable Thrashbarg. Um, yes. I'm afraid I think I'm going to have to be popping off now. But young Drimple, my apprentice, will be a fine sandwich maker in my stead. He has the aptitude, a deep love of sandwiches, and the skills he has acquired so far, though rudimentary as yet, will, in time mature and, er, well, I think he'll work out OK is what I'm trying to say.'
Old Thrashbarg regarded him gravely. His old grey eyes moved sadly. He held his arms aloft, one still carrying a bobbing pikka bird, the other his staff.
`O Sandwich Maker from Bob!' he pronounced. He paused, furrowed his brow, and sighed as he closed his eyes in pious contemplation. `Life,' he said, `will be a very great deal less weird without you!'   ...

`Go!' shouted Thrashbarg. `Go and meet your destiny, Sandwich Maker!'

[From the book Mostly Harmless, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy in Five Parts, Douglas Adams - Thank you to tomsnyder for posting that snippet on Angelfire!]

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Simplifying your thirst

If only every sales pitch was this fantastic.

Enacting simplicity (kanso) at its finest. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I love themes!

What do you get when you combine the colour Orange, Dragons and Babies?

An awesome themed event!   I realize I love themes almost as much as I love the simplicity of creating streamlined and worry free events.  I have been blessed with meeting a wonderful client that needed catering for their friends baby shower and I was given such a fantastic theme to sink my creative teeth into.

Rather than just go with just traditional chinese I decided on a broader asian theme for the menu planning.

I simply could not resist the orange chopsticks as an accent, with a compliment of Dim Sum and loose leaf green and jasmin tea.  

It also gave me a golden opportunity to rediscovery china town for sources and ideas to expand on the theme.

I decided on forgoing the traditional brightly coloured chinese tea and tea cups for the pure white to emphasize the orange accents of the theme.  I also wanted to add themes of seeds and symbolism in the menu.  Traditionally chinese birthday celebrations are themed with seeds and eggs as a sign of fertility.  Since this was going to be for a birthday shower I wanted to be selective.  Black sesame seeds were a perfect choice for garnish and contrast with the green mango salad zing and the stir fry noodles that symbolize long life.

What ended up occurring in the choice of serving ware for the event were flatware and setup that echoed ying and yang.

I also found that the right amount of kitsch is humbling for me and fun.  So I simply had to serve the green mango salad and stir fry in chinese food takeout containers!

This is an uber rare photo of me enjoying the prep in our clients kitchen.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Thank you Mr. Churchill!

I came across this quote the other day.  It struck me on so many levels.

"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm."  - Winston Churchill

Either that's V for victory or..."I still have my two fingers..."

It also made me think about the roll of what an entrepreneur really is.  With the rise of over credentialization, it seems that even the local university now has an "Entrepreneur program".  I came across someone during a cellphone purchase who was in the program and was given a phone and support for his app development.

It seems to me anathema to go to university to learn how to be an entrepreneur.  At least that is the way I've found it.   A university doesn't seem to me like the sort of place where you learn to embrace failure, roll with tough breaks, and take a unique path that many others dare not tread.  As I've found and experienced in university, you learn, regurgitate, cite/reference and essentially jump through as many administrative hoops of burning glass to be done with your degree for the hope of a higher education and asking salary.  Well I guess the hope bit is the common theme.

Still, some how the thought of institutionalized entrepreneurship just makes me shudder.   Though I'm sure another viewpoint and some more light could be shed on this.  I'll let you know in a bit.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Toronto Taste 2012 - Here we GO!

We're back helping out Second Harvest for their Toronto Taste 2012!  The date has been moved up to May 27th and I'm super excited to be given the opportunity to volunteer my time with Second Harvest.  It reminds me of one of the most admirable things about Second Harvest, they are focused and committed in their mission to help others and they mean business!

Its going to be interesting since I expect I will be having a new arrival some time before or after that too!  It will be interesting to see how this coming May will work out!

Not surprisingly I am looking forward to that 16 hour day in the heart of downtown and watching the ROM turn into an amazing venue.  The magic feeling for me always comes the beginning and at the end of the event during teardown.    I'll keep you posted on how it goes and the build up leading to the event lead by such fantastic people.

CHECK IT OUT! - http://www.secondharvest.ca/

Sunday, April 29, 2012

24 Meals in 24 Hours

It always amazes me when people suggest I go to the local big box mega store to pick up food to cater for an event.  It usually begins when we bring up the topic of catering and the price tag that comes with it.

The conversation sometimes goes like this:

"How much can you get me for $X dollars a head."

(At this time I usually do my best to give them what we can do, and still maintain quality.  X being somewhere in the single digits)

"Thats it? Why can't we just go to (insert big box bulkfood store here) and pick up some frozen appetizers?"

24 Meals in 24 Hours

It boggles me why they did not bother to instead shoot the documentary in Toronto and not new work since it is CBC and Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver would be more relevant to its viewers.  

New Beginnings

Its been nearly 4 months since I've been posting.  Its amazing how much time has flown by without even realizing it.

Spring is here and with it comes a great time of reflection for me.  Even more so that I've decided to long ago get back into the saddle of building Simplicity.  I've often said that creating and building Simplicity is one of my greatest joys, second only to holding my first child.  Well now, it looks like I will be able to have the best of both worlds!  No sleep here I come!

Being an entrepreneur is incredibly hard and many a time I would be lying if I never thought of packing it up and calling it a day, taking a 9 to 5'er.   Its funny how many times I have revisited that very same thought!  But as I've learned, being an innovator sometimes means you take it in the teeth, and nothing beats creating an organization built on blood sweat and tears that is making a difference in the world.    I realized too that the bottom line was I realized that I wanted my child to know that his/her parent never gave up building a dream and using that to help other people achieve theirs.   When they are old enough and are subjected to enough of the Star Wars reruns, perhaps they will finally get Yoda's words "Do or do not, there is no try."

So here is to new beginnings, a fresh look and getting back on the horse. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Yikes! Happy New Year and all that jazz!

WOW, its been a while since I've touched this blog. Sorry dear readers if I kept you waiting.

Suffice to say, a lot has been happening and more often than not I barely had time to get to my computer to blog or I was in need of decompression and nowhere near the mental capacity needed to recreate and form a useful and readable post.

One other reason for the delay is being free of our former service provider! It took very little to realize that a) we'd have been paying through the nose for internet and phone, and b) we were being charged for a resource (ie. bandwidth, and up/download limits) that literally should have no limits. It puzzles me that something that was once free and unlimited 3-5 years ago suddenly becomes a rare commodity that the big providers need to put a cap on. Perhaps Netflicks introduction to Canada has something to do with this? Hmm...

So we're going with one of the smaller underdog companies. They are less likely to gouge you, firm prices and they're the underdog. I always root for the underdog and its something personal to me to support other local businesses.

The amusing thing is when we told them we were leaving them for Acanac, the rep replied "But you've been with us for 10 years! Can we match their offer?"

Me: "Can you beat $XX.XX a month unlimited."
Rep: "..."
"We can offer you the same rate for 24 gig for that rate, plus you can upgrade to X for $XX.XX. You hardly go over the rate we offer."
Me: "That's still not unlimited is it?"
Rep: "But you've been with us for ten years!"