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With pandemic restrictions easing, events are safely resuming across Canada. In Toronto, a pair of recent gatherings raised funds for medical care and research, and in Montreal, a top chef toasted his successor.

The Great Jewellery Heist, the annual luncheon and jewellery auction that supports Bridgepoint Active Healthcare, did things a bit differently this year. With guidelines for gatherings in Ontario still evolving, Sinai Health Foundation and event co-chairs Salah Bachir, Andy Pringle, Janice O’Born and Isabelle Fish scrapped the usual mid-day sit-down meal format for something new and more interactive. Held at the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery from Sept. 13-15, this year’s event, the 10th edition, was part celebration of healthcare workers and part exhibition highlighting the sophisticated facilities and myriad programs at Bridgepoint. In accordance with health guidelines, masked groups of about six patrons were taken through the space, where they could engage with a virtual reality experience or write messages of thanks to frontline workers. Cocktails were served outdoors on the galleries adjacent terrace after the tours. There were, of course, still jewels to be had, which were on offer via a silent auction (with an online component for those unable to attend in person). There were more than 100 pieces up for grabs, among them a donation from the personal collection of Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, who popped by to tour the show for herself, and a necklace crafted by a Bridgepoint patient who overcame their dexterity challenges while at the facility. The event, presented this year by BMO, has raised nearly $3-million over its 10-year history.

The following week on the eve of Sept. 22, the home of entrepreneur Stephen Arbib was the backdrop for the third instalment of Chefs’ Circle, a dinner series conceived by restaurateur William Cheng. The event raises funds to support the Jack Tu Chair in Cardiovascular Research at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. Just 20 guests gathered for the $6,000-per-seat supper, which was prepared by chef Masaki Saito of Sushi Masaki Saito in Yorkville (which is owned by Cheng) and retired chef Stephen Tong, who is considered a master of Hong Kong-style Cantonese cuisine. Readers of this column might recall yours truly covering the first instalment of this event back in late February of 2020, mere weeks before the start of the pandemic. I said then, and feel even more strongly now, that the 500-person gala fundraising model is in need of a shake-up. Gatherings of a more intimate nature, that happen to raise funds, like Chefs’ Circle, serve as a delightful example.

While on the topic of food, the evening of Oct. 1, Marcus Restaurant + Lounge, which is perched on the third-floor terrace of the Four Season Hotel Montreal, hosted a one-night only culinary experience for a group of fully vaccinated foodies. The evening marked the return of chef Marcus Samuelsson to his namesake eatery for the first time since its opening in 2019. The event also served as an opportunity for Samuelsson to hand over the reins to chef Jason Morris, who it was recently announced will take over as executive chef. The pair collaborated on a special menu that was served for just one night, and in true Montreal style, taste wasn’t the only sense being satisfied. There were performances throughout the evening, including one by a Cirque du Soleil-esque violin/guitar duo from Black Mohawk Productions, and although Quebec’s safety regulations don’t currently permit any dancing, there were still sets by a number of DJs including Blakk Hazel and Felix Da Housecat.

Great Jewellery Heist co-chair Isabelle Fish and the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell.Ryan Emberley/The Globe and Mail

Great Jewellery Heist co-chair Janice O’Born experiences a VR module used at Bridgepoint Active Healthcare.Ryan Emberley/The Globe and Mail

From the left, Louis de Melo, Peter Cohen, Richard Pilosof and Maxine Granovsky Gluskin.Kennedy Pollard/The Globe and Mail

From the left, Mary Lee, Jennifer Bishop, Christine Hepburn and Rachel BlumenfeldRyan Emberley /The Globe and Mail

Chef Masaki Saito at the Chef's Circle.Ryan Emberley/The Globe and Mail

From the left, William Cheng, Jonathan Goldman and Tyler MacNamara.Ryan Emberley/The Globe and Mail

Nikko Ruvolo, left, and Stephen Arbib.Ryan Emberley/The Globe and Mail

Fashion designer Lysa Lash, left, and Chef Marcus Samuelsson.RYAN EMBERLEY/The Globe and Mail

Nate Matthew and Olivia Blais.RYAN EMBERLEY/The Globe and Mail

Chef Jason Morris.RYAN EMBERLEY/The Globe and Mail

A performer with Black Mohawk Productions.RYAN EMBERLEY/The Globe and Mail

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