GALAS, AWARDS, A TRAVELLING CHEF, AND A FOND FAREWELL
The annual and renowned Passions fundraiser, on behalf of the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation, will take place at Performance Works on Granville Island on Thursday, September 26th, with Global TV’s Kasia Bodurka emceeing.
Founder and dedicator supporter, Nathan Fong, tells me that he’s lined up some fantastic live auction items for the event. Nathan’s recently returned from the Boston Seafood Expo where he was the official B.C. Chef and cooked with B.C.’s Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham and celebrated his real 60th birthday in Daniel Boulud’s Boston Bar Boulud. He was feted in advance at a surprise earlier birthday party in March aboard the elegant and spacious Pacific Yacht.
The Passions event supports the work of the West End’s Dr. Peter Centre, BC’s only HIV day health program and 24-hour nursing care residence.
Nathan was also on a week-long trip to Florida, to St. Augustine and Amelia Island which date back to the 1500’s and is the oldest settlement in America. Then it was a quick trip to San Francisco with three other local chefs as one of the Passion auction items from last year at the home of his friends Margaret and James Foley’s Petrichor Vinyards in sunny Santa Rosa. And it’s probably on the bill this year. And just after his return from the San Fran trip, Nathan went to Victoria and cooked dinner for all the MLA’s on behalf of the BC Seafood Alliance.
Always on the go, the day following the 2019 Passions gala he’ll be flying to Los Angeles to cook at the home of LA’s Canadian Consul General Zaib Shalk, showcasing B.C. Seafood. Have saucepan, will travel !
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One of my favourite hotels has always been the Westin Bayshore, which began life on May 27, 1961 as the Western International Bayshore Inn. My fondness is partly because it’s a true resort property outside of the very busy city centre, but also because I left my heart there when I departed in 1978 from my position as their first in-house public relations director.
At that time I had no intention of working as a hotel PR but had approached G.M. Arthur Oades to pursue the idea of turning their glamorous, sequined-curtained showroom into a dinner theatre, rather than continuing with the dreary and boring lounge entertainment from Seattle.
Talented director and actor John Parker had already produced several melodrama like The Drunkard and Wedded to a Villain at the Gaslight Theatre in Gastown and at the Colonial Magic Theatre on Granville and shown how it could be done.
I thought the dinner theatre idea was perfect, since it would attract all sorts of local dining patrons from the West End as well as the hundreds of hotel guests. Arthur could feel my excitement and really wanted me to take the job. But that wasn’t part of Western International’s Harry Mulligan’s plan and he nixed the idea and turned the space into a swimming pool.
But my PR job was never dull. This was just after Howard Hughes’s six month stay in the top two floors of the tower. He had more protective services than Queen Elizabeth. It was a sad sight as he departed by private ambulance surrounded by sombre black-coated assistants, back to the U.S.
But a call from the Westin in Toronto lifted my spirits. The Beatles’ Ringo Starr was heading our way and if I could keep the press away and guarantee his privacy, he’d stay for a week. Despite the fact that he wore his windbreaker with the sequinned Ringo emblazoned on the back, and walked to Stanley Park every day with his lady love wrapped in full length mink, he stayed for three weeks.
I thought that former Global TV’s News Director Clive Jackson, who was determined to track him down, would never forgive me for the near impossible job of trying to hide a star who wants to be found!
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Vancouver’s own travelling actor, Glenn MacDonald, who is just back in town after a wonderful vacation in Argentina, is excited about the new production of Jack of Diamonds, directed by Anna Hagen at the West End’s PAL Studio Theatre. Glenn is Western Gold Theatre’s general manager and frequent set designer. It was he who introduced the theatre company’s new artistic director Tanja Dixon-Warren. Western Gold was founded by the dedicated Joy Coghill some 25 years ago as a vehicle for senior professional actors.
That was just after the aforementioned director, John Parker, formed Actors Contemporary Theatre (ACT) which he launched with what was at that time an outrageous but fabulous production of Boys in the Band. And Glenn was one of the stars of that show, along with Michael La France, Robert Graham, Jim McQueen, Alan Wallis, Ty Haller, and Geoff Theobald. It ran for weeks with rave reviews and a few pans.
It was probably the most talked about theatre production ever in Vancouver and gave radio talk show hosts lots to rant and rave about. It was also how yours truly came to meet The West End Journal’s editor and publisher Kevin Dale McKeown, who was then writing for the “underground” paper The Georgia Straight.
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The crew at The Sutton Place Hotel and at their Oyster Bar and Seafood restaurant are beaming over the plethora of awards they’ve recently received from Vancouver Magazine and Where Magazine, including Best Seafood, Best Dessert, Best Upscale and Best Hotel Dining Room. And that is a triumph!
While it’s been quiet on the movie and TV scene for the past while, such shows as Riverdale, Super Girl, Arrow and A Million Little Things will be returning along with their various stars – most of whom love B.C. seafood...
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You may not have heard him on radio or seen him on TV, but Radio CKNW would never have reached the heights and acclaim across the country that John Plul attained for them as Director of P.R. and Promotion. When the Social Credit Party swept to victory in the polls, the amazing red-headed Grace McCarthy was B.C.’s Minister of Tourism, John became her right-hand man and together their ideas just popped like popcorn kernels. The desperately needed Cruise Ship Centre, the necessary and first B.C. Film office, the lighting of the Lions Gate Bridge and just so much more. Grace passed away a couple of years ago, and it’s nice to know that her efforts are finally being recognized. There’ll be a new green space beside the Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park, the highest point in the city, and it will be called The Grace McCarthy Park. Meanwhile her dear friend and cohort, John Plul is recovering from a serious infection in ICU in Peace Arch hospital. Get well soon John!
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Still with radio, my favourite media, there was a small, compact building just across from St. Paul’s Hospital which came to life as the home of the new CHQM, the easy-listening station. And what a line-up they had – Bill Bellman, Noel Hullah, Lyndon Grove, Andy Walsh (who’s still on the air at ‘WX), Jurgen Gothe and Maurice Foisy, the George Clooney of the air waves. His sexy, dulcet tones sent shivers of delight down ladies’ backs. His afternoon “Man About Town” segment was the sex magnet of radioland. After retirement, when he wasn’t travelling or golfing, he recorded books for the visually impaired. Maurice passed away on May 10 with his loving wife Sharel and the family by his side. He was 85 years old. There will be a Celebration of Life at the point Grey Golf Club on June 2 at 2 p.m. My deepest sympathy to Sharel and the family! Just a lovely guy.