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Food was something that occupied Gina Mallet personally as well as professionally. Noisy restaurants and trendy wine labels were but a few of her pet peeves. (Peter Softly)
Food was something that occupied Gina Mallet personally as well as professionally. Noisy restaurants and trendy wine labels were but a few of her pet peeves. (Peter Softly)

Obituary

Theatre critic Gina Mallet ‘never gave up on a story’ Add to ...

Having covered theatre for more than 15 years in Toronto, Ms. Mallet left the Toronto Star to become a day trader with money she had both inherited and earned from the sale of her house. Although she loved the excitement of the stock market, she was not successful at investing. “I begged her not to do it,” said Hilary Simpson, her oldest friend from boarding school days. “Computers had just become very popular and, like many others, she got taken to the cleaners.”

Ms. Mallet returned to writing, this time about her other passion, food. She’d extended her knowledge of haute cuisine by taking a Cordon Bleu culinary course in Paris. She occasionally wrote about food for The Globe and Mail before joining the National Post in 2007. Food was something that occupied her personally as well as professionally. “She was a fabulous cook who could whip up something from nothing. She loved wine, and orchestrating lunches and dinners,” said David McCaughna, a freelance writer and publicist friend of Ms. Mallet’s for 40 years.

The two attended many theatre openings together and, in the latter part of Ms. Mallet’s career, dined out at restaurants. She encouraged him to steal menus for reference, or simply stuck them in her purse.

He says her changeable nature kept friends on their toes. He recalled once being ejected from a New Year’s Eve dinner party she threw because he made a comment she didn’t like. “She was definitely to the right in her political views,” said Mr. McCaughna. “I can’t remember a conversation we had in the last five years that she didn’t rail against Obama. I learned to just nod and say, ‘Uh-huh.’ But being highly opinionated was part of what made her interesting.”

Ms. Mallet was an intensely private individual, so much so that a casual reference to once having bumped into her ex-husband in New York surprised her circle of friends. It also surprised her nephew, Mowbray Jackson. He conceded it was entirely within character that his aunt could have married and not told anyone. Ms. Simpson says it’s highly unlikely her friend ever married, although she did have several serious relationships. Whether a marriage existed or not, Ms. Mallet lived the rest of her life amid a coterie of friends.

“If she liked you, she liked you, but she could turn on a dime,” said Mr. McHardy. “Gina was deeply involved in life through the prism of culture. Whether it was food or theatre, she didn’t hold back on anything.”

As Mr. Jackson put it: “She loved a good debate, as long as you agreed with her.”

 

 

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