Vancouver, BC (January 22nd, 2020) – The Sixth Annual Best Sommelier of BC competition came to an exciting and intense finish as the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS) announced its 2020 winner this week at Rogers Arena. Out of a grouping of 15 contestants, Campagnolo’s Peter Van de Reep was awarded the coveted title of BC Sommelier of the Year. Peter now goes on to the Canadian finals that will be held in the Okanagan this fall.
The CAPS BC Sommelier title is determined by a comprehensive skill set competition that includes a written exam and a hands-on practical test that pits three finalists against each other to determine their knowledge on a number of wine-related topics. The competitors are challenged on their know-how about sparkling wine service, red wine decanting, food and wine pairings, menu writing as well as blind tastings of cocktails, red, and white wines. For this year’s competition, the distinguished panel of judges included Barbara Philip, Sebastien Le Goff, and Jason Yamasaki, who crowned Peter from Campagnolo Main as the 2020 BC Sommelier of the Year, with Gooseneck Hospitality’s Christina Hartigan as the first runner-up, and Leagh Barkley taking an admirable third place for the second year in a row.

“I am humbled to have had the opportunity to compete in this competition amongst so many highly regarded industry colleagues and to be recognized as one of BC’s finalists,” says Leagh. “Congrats to all the competitors who bring their expertise and passion for wine to each and every service for the sheer enjoyment of their guests.”
Once again, Toptable Group was well represented in the mix with Daewhan Lim (CinCin Ristorante + Bar), Michael Littleford (CinCin Ristorante + Bar), Calen Macdonald (Bluewater Cafe + Raw Bar), Perdy Sawyers (Il Caminetto), and Christopher Edens (Araxi Restaurant + Oyster Bar) also vying for the province’s top title.

“To have these dedicated professionals represent many of our restaurants exemplifies the industry’s commitment and passion to hospitality and what differentiates Toptable Group from a service perspective,” says President Michael Doyle. “This talent allows us to deliver a level of dining experience to our guests that sets Toptable Group apart and becomes a core pillar of who we are. Congratulations to all the 2020 competitors!”

Wins for Toptable Group in the past have included: Shane Taylor, Wine Director at CinCin Ristorante + Bar winning the 2017 BC Sommelier of the Year, Samantha Rahn, former Wine Director at Araxi Restaurant and Oyster Bar, taking home the title in 2013 while Owen Knowlton, Restaurant and Wine Director at the former West Restaurant, earned the accolade in 2011.


20th January 2020

 Sustainability in foodservice channels is increasingly important, primarily driven by younger generations that are championing such causes. In 2018, 47% of Gen Z consumers stated that ethical and environmentally friendly claims often or always influence their choice of beverage*, as opposed to only 41% in 2016*1. This upward trend suggests that it is critical that foodservice manufacturers move beyond surface-level green practices to incorporate sustainable and ethical production processes from the ground up and highlight further transparency within their supply chains, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

IMAGE Available: Consumers (%) often/always influenced by how ethical/environmentally-friendly/socially-responsible a product is

Globaldata’s latest report, ‘Foodservice Insights and Trends on Sustainability’, reveals that amid the recent ‘war on plastics’, a number of players are implementing waste-reduction processes, utilizing renewable energy in supply-chain operations and moving toward more sustainable materials for packaging solutions - redesigning products such as plastic straws, cups, sauce sachets and drink-stirrers.

Ryan Whittaker,Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, says:In the future, the sustainability and ethics mega-trend will increase in relevancy to all foodservice outlet types. Coffee and tea shops will continue to be the most impacted, with key players encouraging consumers to use reusable cups, while innovating beyond plastic for key items including straws and drink stirrers. As of 2018, over 25%* of consumers claim to currently bring their own refillable cups with them when dining out based on environmental consciousness.”


IMAGE Available: Consumers (%) that consider bringing own refillable cup to foodservice outlet when consuming hot/cold drinks

Whittaker adds: “Pret a manger is a key example of a foodservice outlet looking to cater to such sustainability trends, with its announcement in 2019 seeing the chain pledge to make 100% of its plastic products recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025 to align to new EU policies.

“It is important that brands involve millennials in their environmental and ethical initiatives. They seek incremental and positive change, so donating a portion of profits to relevant causes can work toward attracting both sales and company appreciation.”


TORONTO, Jan. 16, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Fuwa Fuwa, Toronto’s first specialty shop for soufflé pancakes, announced that it has set its sights on expansion as several new franchise groups have signed on to grow the brand. Fuwa Fuwa hopes to see expansion across Canada in 2020 with the availability of additional franchising opportunities.

The Japanese pancake restaurant’s all-fluff-no-bluff soufflé desserts quickly gained popularity with its flagship location in Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood in 2018. Since then, Fuwa Fuwa has expanded to two additional locations including its latest venture inside Square One Shopping Center.

“At Fuwa Fuwa, we understand our unique offerings and what makes our brand so likeable,” said Benson Lau, co-owner, “We have strong sales and traffic in a restaurant segment that has been challenging for many others. Our track record thus far makes us a great franchise opportunity and is the driving factor for our strategic expansion in 2020.”

Each pancake at Fuwa Fuwa is hand-made to order with fresh ingredients. Each dish begins with egg whites whipped to soft peaks, essential to their final airy quality, and is topped with a selection of fruits, creams, syrups and house sauces. Fuwa Fuwa also offers additional Japanese dessert classics, such as the matcha roll cake, and specialty hot and cold drinks.

Square One Shopping Centre sees 24 million shoppers each year, many drawn in by the sprawling 5,000 square foot Food District. As the brand continues to experience a steady upsurge in sales and traffic, the move to open a Fuwa Fuwa location at Square One Shopping Centre was an important step toward the long-term strategic plan of expanding nationally. 

“We have already been able to attract accomplished franchise partners that have considerable experience and are looking for a unique concept to invest into. Franchising is an important step forward and we believe that we are setting a strong foundation for our future partners to grow with us,” said Lau.

Fuwa Fuwa’s franchising model is designed to enable passionate young professionals to deliver happiness and high-quality unique products through standardized operating, strategic marketing and promotion and management processes. Alongside the opening for the new Square One location, the company plans to expand across Canada in 2020, with ten new stores slated for Ontario and Western Canada. A fourth store is already in the works at SmartCentres Vaughan and slated to open in March.

“Fuwa Fuwa has real momentum and we aren’t slowing down anytime soon,” said Lau. “We have many more franchise opportunities for those interested in joining the Fuwa Fuwa family and I have no doubt that we will continue to show impressive growth as we expand into new markets.”

Fuwa Fuwa invests strategically in traditional and digital marketing as well as PR and has been covered by major publications alongside sweeping award categories for Toronto’s top flapjacks and best brunch.

Square One Shopping Centre is located at 100 City Centre Drive, Mississauga. Fuwa Fuwa will host its grand opening inside Square One on January 18, 2020. The store will be celebrating the opening day with one free Fuwa Fuwa Signature Pancake (Original Soufflé Pancake, Strawberry, Blueberry, Banana) per person for the first 200 guests, and a free bubble tea with the purchase of a pancake.

Interested franchise partners can contact the brand here.


LOS ANGELES, Calif. – January 15, 2020 - Califia Farms, a leading independently owned plant-based food and beverage company founded by natural product visionary Greg Steltenpohl, announces it has completed one of the largest private capital raisings within the natural foods sector, through a $225 million Series D financing led by the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA).  Other investors in the financing include Singapore headquartered investment company Temasek, Canada based Claridge, Hong Kong based Green Monday Ventures, and a Latin America based family with significant interests in coffee and consumer products. Existing investors also converted previously issued notes as part of the financing.

The new investor group will take a minority stake in Califia Farms, with representatives from QIA, Temasek, and Claridge joining the Board of Califia, alongside founder Greg Steltenpohl and existing investors Sun Pacific, Stripes and Ambrosia.

Demand for plant-based beverages is exploding worldwide as consumers seek healthier, great-tasting dairy alternatives. This latest funding round will help Califia Farms build on the success of its oat platform and launch other lines. Proceeds will also allow Califia to further invest in increased production capacity, substantial R&D, deeper U.S. penetration, and continued global expansion.

Inspired by the legendary Queen Califia, namesake of the state of California, Califia Farms was founded in 2010 and has become one of the fastest-growing natural food and beverage companies of scale in the U.S. and select international markets. Califia is on a mission to discover and share ‘what plants can do’ to help people transform their health and adopt a lower carbon ‘foodprint’[1].

Califia is looking forward to working with a more global investor base, as the company continues to grow and fulfill its mission. “The more than $1 trillion global dairy and ready-to-drink coffee industry is ripe for continued disruption, with individuals all over the world seeking to transform their health & wellness through the adoption of minimally processed and nutrient rich foods that are better for both the planet and the animals,” said Greg Steltenpohl, Califia’s Founder and CEO. “Califia’s role is to help plant the future.”

“Speed to market is critical for companies at our stage and we are thrilled that our new partners share our vision to be the leading independent brand in the plant-based sector. Each of our partners brings significant resources and global expertise to accelerate our next stage of our growth,” he added.


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