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Annabel Lyon vacation photo. (Handout)
Annabel Lyon vacation photo. (Handout)

What some Canadians do on summer vacation Add to ...

Then we came home and it’s been really dramatic: it seems like things in the house keep breaking this summer. There have been a lot of people coming here to do the work, so I’ve met a lot of interesting people. There’s somebody upstairs fixing something right now, something electrical.

Our downtime has been really, really great. We take the baby down to the beach. I don’t think she’s crazy about sand just yet. So we take her out for strolls, meet up with people, go for iced tea or ice cream, or just go for walk. It’s been very peaceful.

I feel like I’ve been reading tons this summer; reading a lot of fiction. Right now I’m reading The Woman in Black by Susan Hill, which I’d never read before.

I haven’t done any writing at all. And this fall’s going to be crazy too, so it’s looking like I should be back at my desk by the end of the year.

Rob Gentile, chef at Toronto's Buca Osteria & Enoteca restaurant

I was in Italy twice. We go there often - we like to educate ourselves and continue to better ourselves as much as possible. It's a working trip, but the good part about it is, it's a great job. You get to eat and drink and whenever possible get to work in interesting places all over the world. Everywhere you go in Italy is a different learning experience, you see different things that chefs are doing, the different ingredients there.

The first trip was to Sicily - I had the opportunity to work in a 3-Michelin star restaurant in a small town called Licata, in the southern-most tip of Sicily. The things you see in Sicily compared to things you see in Toscana are very different. There's an abundance of grapes, raisins, olives, pistachios, almonds, a lot of offal - different types of organ meats - which is very cool. Our pastry chef who just arrived last week, is from Sicily, so after working in the restaurant I went to Palermo, where he lived, and he showed me around its rustic side, and the traditions there.

The second trip was to the east coast, with my Chef de Cuisine Ryan Campbell. We travelled to Venice, then Treviso, then down the east coast to Senigallia, then Ancona, all on the water, then back to Rome. That was a completely different experience - for the whole trip I didn't see one piece of cured meat, no parmigiano-reggiano. The areas we went to were unique, and the abundance of seafood was unbelievable. We went to a restaurant that specialized in sweet aqua dolce - the river it was on had turned freshwater, so all the local catches were freshwater fish. All the ocean-side places served salt-water catches. It was unbelievable.

Miles Nadal

Founder, Chairman and CEO of MDC Partners

Bought a house for wounded war children on Staten Island -- with actor Tyler Perry.

“It was March 17, 2011 -- I watch 60 Minutes religiously -- and I saw something extraordinarily inspiring. This woman Elissa Montanti created this place out of a one-bedroom house in Staten Island, out of her closet, called Global Medical Relief Fund, to help kids that were blown apart in war-torn areas like Bosnia, and Afghanistan, et cetera.

She somehow figured out how to get all the medical supplies donated by Johnson & Johnson; the Shriner Hospitals around America to donate surgical services; and she was able to get them back into a normal life. I saw this and I was blown away.

One of our firms knows the people at CBS. I said, ‘Send a note to them and tell them I’m very interested to help this woman.’ There was no home for these kids before, during and after surgery. So I said, look, I will buy you half a house; go raise the rest of the money. I committed $200-grand. Well, sure enough, she finds Tyler Perry, the actor, and he says “I’ll give you the other $200-grand.” We went to see it last week, for the ribbon-cutting. We met the kids. And it was even more heartfelt, when you actually meet the kids and they’re shaking your hand with their stump, and they’re such lovely children. Kind and sweet and thoughtful and appreciative.

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