CFC Annual BBQ a Showcase for All Things Canadian

With the 2016 edition of the Toronto International Film Festival in full swing, Toronto seems filled to the brim with actors, directors, production companies, and fans. Some from faraway places like Australia, Finland, and Nigeria while others from not so far away Hollywood. The biggest contingent though is from right here – Canada. With every TIFF season, comes the invite-only Canadian Film Centre’s BBQ.

As one of the most anticipated events at TIFF, the CFC barbecue is held on the expansive grounds of the Windfields Estate. The event hosts local and international filmmakers, television professionals, performers, digital media creators and entrepreneurs. This barbecue is a highly sought after ticket and is used to raise funds for CFC’s various programs and offerings. The event puts the focus on local talent whether in film, screen, music, or even in the Canadian business scene.

The Canadian Film Centre, based in Toronto, was founded by Academy Award-nominated director Norman Jewison and aims to “accelerate the careers of the brightest talent in film, television, screen acting, music, and digital media.” A charitable organization, the CFC “is committed to promoting and investing in Canada’s diverse talent; providing exhibition, financial, and distribution opportunities, industry collaborations and creative partnerships for top creative content leaders.” Jewison is a film director, producer and actor and with a long list of recognized work including In The Heat Of The Night, Fiddler on the Roof, and Moonstruck.


It was the perfect day for a barbecue. The sun was shining and everyone on board the shuttle bus was buzzing with excitement. This was my first time attending so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect so as we pulled up to Windfields Estate. I was surprised by the sheer size of the event. There were lots of people milling about. Some were younger, some were older. Some had pets while others had children. Many were conservatively dressed and some leaned towards the eccentric side. There were also many booths featuring various Canadian-made products and services.

The BBQ started with welcoming remarks from Norman Jewison and other VIPs. Then, while we were treated to musical performances from Tomi Swick and Adaline, people mingled and networked. Navigating through the groups, I heard a lot of people talking shop but it seemed to be focused on both local talent and increasing opportunities for women in the industry. I saw Matt Murray (Rookie Blue, Kevin From Work), the cast of Murdoch Mysteries, and many more.

Then, when I thought it was all over, and I was on the shuttle bus heading back downtown, I had a little fun moment of my own. There was a woman on the bus who had one of those little promotional cards for a movie I had just watched a few days before called Little Wing. I was gushing to the woman about how great the film, director, and the acting were when a woman across the aisle said, “Thank you”. The woman next to her pointed out that she was the director and to her right was the young star of the film I was just talking about. I turned about 4000 shades of red but looking back on it, it’s a fun little moment that I’ll never forget. Just goes to show, when it comes to the Toronto International Film Festival, anything can happen!

5 Things I Discovered at the CFC BBQ


QNI’s Schinoussa RAW Sea Vegetables Super Food

I tried one of their delicious protein shakes with a mix of probiotic whey isolate and sea vegetables. I was surprised at how good this was (being pretty adverse to most seafood). It was a refreshing drink that was perfect for the day but wasn’t hard on the stomach like some protein shakes can be. Quantum Nutrition Inc. is a Canadian owned and operated Super Food and natural products brand. All the QNI formulas are researched and developed using ancient natural medicines with the latest scientific nutrition breakthroughs.


Holy Cannoli

This was literally the best Cannoli I have ever had. Offering three different flavours to choose from and made filled right there on the spot, eating this scrumptious pastry left me needing to take a moment. It took all my will power not to grab the tray and run, it was that good.

Holy Cannoli Shells & Cream owner, Vanessa Chiara was there on site and a pleasure to talk to. Vanessa developed a family recipe after a personal trip to Sicily and since that time, the whole family have listened to many of their clients tell them that “these are the best Cannoli I have ever had”.

Holy Cannoli Shells & Cream launched in September 2014 with their debut at Canada’s Baking and Sweets Show alongside her colleagues, the Cake Collective. Their follow up appearances at shows like Delicious Food Show, Toronto Food and Drink Market, Toronto Food & Wine and the Gourmet Food and Wine Expo have been met with rave reviews and record sales.


Crystal Head Vodka

I have a confession. When I drink, it’s often a vodka water or vodka soda but I really can’t tell the difference between most brands. They all taste the same to me. Until I tried the Crystal Head Vodka, that is. I ordered the Hot Headed cocktail (Crystal Head Vodka, Thai Chili Lemonade, Soda, and Basil) to try something new and right away could tell it was different. The fact that it’s as Canadian a vodka as you can get was just a bonus.

Owned by famous Canadian actor Dan Aykroyd and John Alexander, this vodka comes in a recognizable skull bottle. Highest quality peaches and cream corn is distilled four times into a neutral grain spirit and blended with pristine water from Newfoundland, Canada. The liquid is then filtered seven times, of which three are through layers of semi precious crystals known as Herkimer diamonds. Crystal Head contains no additives. No glycerol, citrus oils or sugars. Nothing is added to enhance or mask the taste. This distinct process definitely sets it apart.



If you’ve ever watched a dramatic show on television since 2008, you’ve probably heard a song by Canadian talent, Adaline. Her music has been used in Grey’s Anatomy, 90210, Degrassi, and Rookie Blue just to name a few. Her album “Modern Romantics” earned a nomination for Pop Recording of the Year at the Western Canadian Music Awards and she was the voice behind Cineplex’s short “Lily and the Snowman” from last Christmas. She’s also an alumni of the CFC. Adaline’s talent was on full display at the barbeque and was a great soundtrack to the day’s event.


VR Dome

Not to be outdone by the food and beverage, Canadian tech companies were also present at the CFC fundraiser. Set up in what was being called the “VR Dome”, 3 canadian software companies had set up virtual reality displays for guests to try. I haven’t tried anything that could be considered virtual reality in almost 10 years so I was very surprised at how far the technology has come.

The three companies (Shaftesbury, Jam 3, and Red Meat Games) each had a different take on the game that they were presenting. Using an HTC Vive, players could choose between a game based on the television series (Slasher), a campfire game in which you had to build and keep a fire burning, or a game in which you got to be a superhero who could fly and had other super powers. Being the comic fan that I am, I obviously chose the last one to try. It was pretty awesome. The flying felt so real that when I started falling from the sky I almost lost my balance in real life. The VR Dome was extremely popular with people lining up to give it a try the whole day. If this is the future of gaming, count me in.

Written by Kevin Joseph

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