Monday 23 May 2011

The magnificent rebranded Sheraton Montreal Airport Hotel

Last week noted Jewish communications specialist Esther Buchsbaum of energi PR, who has been engaged by the newly rebranded Sheraton Airport Hotel to oversee its media relations strategy, invited a select group of journalists to see exactly what their new kosher menu has to offer. It was a unique format to say the least, as a table was setup right in the actual kitchen for eight guests to sit down and experience the ultimate tasting opportunity.

So who were my dining partners? CTV Montreal’s charming Aphrodite Salas was there for her Sunday newscast feature and so was the equally wonderful Suzanne Desautels, now the morning weather specialist on CJAD Radio, a web journalist and a few of my colleagues from the Jewish media.

Paul Herrmann, a European who has previous experience with kosher kitchens, is the hotel’s executive chef. But he has invited Romano Giorgi, owner and chef of Tradition Catering and Alan Serour (pictured with Suzanne above and Aphrodite below), co-partner and chef at ETMO Catering, to be part of this new model. The aim, noted Hermann, is “to demystify what kosher cuisine is all about.”

Serour added that they want to “raise the bar on kosher cuisine, be more creative and think outside of the box.” As for Giorgi, who worked at the prestigious Ritz Carlton Hotel when he first came to Canada in the 1970s, he says that the kosher kitchen has been revolutionized in the last 20 years.” I have had big lunches before, but this one was enormous. Prepared by the Sheraton and the two kosher caterers, here is what we dined on: salmon tartar, mini lamb chops, cigars, vegetarian spring rolls, been bonbon, beef carpaccio, shredded duck and confit of tomatoes, arctic char, chick peas and fig tajine on a bed of coucous, grilled supreme of chicken with vegetable spaghetti, braised lamb ravioli with wild mushroom demi glace, roasted duck (balsamic and honey reduction), hanger steak with thick cut fries, deconstructed lemon meringue pie in a jar, cappuccino mousse in demi tasse, mini sherbet cones and a slew of kosher wine. I would have to predict that this place could just become one of the most popular spots for kosher functions on the island.

The hotel itself features 476 spacious guest rooms, 19,000 square feet of state-of-the-art meeting facilities, a fully equipped fitness facility, a grand ballroom available for weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, sweet sixteens and other kosher functions, a spa and an indoor/outdoor heated saltwater pool. A redesigned restaurant and a newly landscaped and expanded garden complete with water fall and pond will debut soon.

The heart of the lobby will be the brand’s signature “Link@Sheraton(R) experience with Microsoft®” – the brand’s signature social hub where connections, whether face-to-face or webcam-to-webcam take place. The hotel’s guest rooms will be upgraded and equipped with an oversized work desk, custom-designed ergonomic chair, high-speed Internet, LCD flat panel television, iPod home docking station and the all-white Sheraton Sweet Sleeper® bed. “The Sheraton Montreal Airport Hotel is a local landmark, rich in history, and one that has played an important role in the lives of Canadians in general, and with Montrealers in particular since 1963,” said GM Kevin Gillespie, who has worked in Israel.

Located on Côte de Liesse, the Sheraton Montreal Airport Hotel sits at the entrance to Trudeau International Airport and 20 minutes from downtown Montreal. For more information about this Jewish-owned hotel log on to

Pictured above right are Romano Giorgi, Kevin Gillespie, Alan Serour, Ronald Tardif and Paul Hermann.

Le Spotllight could be Montreal's Canadian Idol

Canadian Idol may be long gone, but CTV could do a lot worse than considering a partnership with the city’s most exciting night of musical theatre. Le Spotlight: Montreal’s Musical Theatre Challenge will mark its fifth edition of celebrating local performing excellence on Wed. June 1 (8 p.m.) at Le Gesu (1200 Bleury).

Sponsored by the Centre for Education and Theatre in Montreal (CETM), nine Montreal-area performers were selected during a round of preliminary auditions held recently at CETM: Émilie Allard, Shoshanna Bell, Luc-Jean Gagnon, Lisa Ashley Gontovnick, Maggie Owen, Eva Petris, Sophie Protopoulos, Alisha Ruiss and Dane Stewart. Each will have four minutes alone on stage to demonstrate acting, singing and movement skills before a panel of professional judges and a live audience.

New this year will be additional performances by the finalists in group numbers during the second half of the show. This year’s winner will be featured in the Next Wave Festival of New Musicals coming to the Pierre-Dupuy Auditorium, the CETM Studio and Espace Libre in August. All performers will appear with a live 10-piece orchestra under the direction of Chris Barillaro. The show will be directed by Le Spotlight founder Stephen Pietrantoni and hosted by the 2009 Le Spotlight winner Braulio Elicer.

A partial list of judges for the finals includes musical director John Gilbert, choreographer Lorna Wayne and Montreal’s legendary Geraldine Doucet, with two others to be revealed soon. Again this year, those present in the audience will be given the opportunity to vote for their favourite performer. Tickets are $30 (all taxes and facility fees included), and may be obtained at the Gèsu box office (514-861-4036). Student/senior rates are available. For more information about the competition go to Le Spotlight’s official website.