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RC Show 2021 ONLINE LIVE: 4 Days, 150 Leaders, 1 Voice – Reimagine & Rebuild


Restaurants Canada President & CEO, Todd Barclay provides his top takeaways for the recent RC Show 2021 ONLINE LIVE.

At the recent RC Show 2021, Patrick Saurette of The Marc Restaurant Group said during the “Canada’s Independent Leaders Talk the Fate of the Independent Restaurant” panel: “We viewed the pandemic as a pivotal moment of change within the industry.”

It’s this idea that seemed to be a recurring theme of RC Show 2021. The devastation of the foodservice and hospitality industry due to COVID-19 cannot be understated, but neither should the opportunities it is providing our community. Opportunities not just for technological innovation, new revenue streams, and business diversifica­tion, but also to reinvent the way our indus­try operates and the values and systems it perpetuates.

For example, one of our most important panels this year was ‘Inclusive Kitchen: Tackling Systemic Racism’ which provided insight into how we can break down barriers and biases to create change and encourage inclusivity in our own kitchens and operations. This sentiment of dismantling was echoed in the ‘Progress in a Recession’ panel which discussed how even with massive difficulties: a recession, low staff, and a shrunken job market, it is still important to incorporate topics like sick days and anti-racism in your day-to-day operations and business strategy.

As we reflect on the opportunity to reinvent, we’re also presented with the chance to rebuild and reconnect. While we’ve remained separated due to social distancing guidelines, in many ways our community has never felt closer. One only needs to look at the RC Show Award winners to understand this sentiment. These pioneers have spearheaded initiatives to bolster neighbourhoods and provide for communities.

We were also in awe at the speed at which trends and technology have evolved due to COVID-19. As we’re forced to reinvent our operations, we’re seeing the adoption of digital like never before. Take for instance the ‘Maturing of the Ghost Kitchen Con­cept’ panel that spoke to how the pandemic amplified the already growing consumer demand for convenience shown in the rise of delivery and that brought to light some of the interesting evolutions we have and will continue to see in the ghost kitchen category.

In fact, due to COVID-19, Restaurants Canada was able to reinvent the RC Show itself. While we were not able to gather in person this year, the virtual format provided us with the chance to welcome a number of foodservice and hospitality leaders from across the world. And per­haps most importantly – for the first time, all attendees are able to relive these four action-packed days with RC ON DEMAND through their RC Show registration credentials. Additionally, RC Show 2021 content is now available to everyone to access on de­mand: sign up at

Our world-class programming remains a valuable resource for our entire community during these challenging times and we hope you take advantage of our library of stage content, as well as the Exhibit Hall filled with leading companies and special offers to feed the recovery. To support your experience, I’ve pulled together some of my own personal favourite highlights and top takeaways from RC Show 2021 ONLINE LIVE that I highly recommend you relive through ON DEMAND.


Chef Michael Smith in Conversation with Chef Donna Dooher

In an emotional discussion with Chef Donna Dooher, Prince Edward Island’s food ambassador, Food Network host, and nutritional activist Chef Michael Smith discussed how he built his career, sharing lessons along the way and how he shifted his family’s restaurant and inn in response to the pandemic.

Speaking with Jim Treliving, Chairman & Owner, Boston Pizza International and Dragon, Dragon’s Den

I was honoured to have the opportunity to sit down with Jim Treliving, Chairman and Owner of Boston Pizza International, for a personal conversation that ran the gamut of mental health in the workplace to his days starting out in the foodservice industry.

Fireside Chat with Ritch Allison, Global CEO, Domino’s Pizza Inc.

In a fireside chat with Ritch Allison, CEO of Domino’s Pizza, we explored how innovation has driven this ‘tech company that sells pizza’. This exclusive, one-on-one discussion provided insight into how this company is accelerating the use of technology and how and why they are looking into how robotics can be used to create a more seamless experience.


This year, RC SHOW boasted eight CEO Panels including:

  • ‘CEO Panel: Quick Service Restaurant’
  • ‘Beer CEO Panel: Business Building Beer Insights’
  • ‘Spirits CEO Panel: Alcohol Innovation to Keep Spirits Up’
  • ‘CEO Panel: Fast Casual Restaurants’
  • ‘Wine CEO Panel: Pouring to Profitability’
  • ‘CEO Panel: Full Service Restaurants’
  • ‘Canada’s Independent Leaders Talk the Fate of the Independent Restaurant
  • ‘Coffee Panel: Robust Discussions on Coffee Diversification & Shifting Cafe Culture

With more CEO panels than ever before, operators are able to hone in on the knowledge and expertise from leaders in their own field and gather advice and best practices from those paving the road during these bumpy times.

We welcomed Duncan Fulton, Chief Corporate Officer, Restaurant Brands International, Nivera Wallani, President and General Manager, YUM! Brands, Kyle Norrington, President, Labatt Breweries of Canada, Fred Landtmeters, President & CEO, Molson Coors Canada, Neale Graham, Managing Director Canada & Canadian Brands, Beam Suntory, and Scott Boatwright, Chief Restaurant Officer, Chipotle on our panels this year – and that’s just a sampling of the leaders who shared their insights.


Presented by American Express Canada and their Shop Small Program, this roundtable was part of our CEO panel programming and featured Donna Dooher, Chef & Owner, Mildred’s Temple Kitchen, Patrick Kriss, Chef & Owner, Alo Group, Brenda O’Reilly, Co-Owner & President, YYT Foodservices, and Patrick Saurette, Owner, The Marc Restaurant Group.

As part of one of the hardest-hit sectors of our industry, this chat got to the heart of the matter and allowed us to delve into how COVID-19 has affected the independent restaurateur, how they’ve pivoted to stay afloat, and what the future may hold for these operators.


Much of the Show programming brought forth the essential data and forecasts that operators are able to leverage and put into action for 2021. Data-driven decision making is just one of the tools in our belts that we can implement in order to stay afloat in the turbulent waters of the COVID-19 pandemic. With a perceptive view into changing consumer habits and tastes, a look at and greater comprehension of our econom­ic future, or comprehension of how COVID-19 affected or is currently affecting the supply chain, operators can make more informed choices to drive success.

Restaurants Canada’s Industry Outlook

Presented by Groupex, RC Show 2021 kicked off with the Restaurants Canada’s Industry Outlook. Featuring Restaurants Canada’s Senior Economist Chris Elliot, exclu­sive industry data was presented to provide an in-depth understanding of where the industry is headed. Attendees learned about the latest consumer and sales trends and gained a deeper appreciation of what these market behaviours mean for their business.

Are Canadians Ready to Come Back? Data Insights on Canadian Consumers

Presented by Corus Entertainment, Canada’s larg­est media company, this panel provided a look at how consumers’ feelings have shifted throughout the pandemic and what that means for the future of foodservice.

Janet Zuccarini, CEO & Owner, Gusto 54 Restaurant Group joined this panel to bring the data to life, with anecdotal experience that positions analytics and data within ‘real life’ situations. Corus tracked Canadian consumers’ attitudes from last March and provided deep insights into different psycho-segments and regional differences. Check out this panel to hear what Canadians are thinking to help you prepare your business for the future, and win them back.

State of the Bar

Presented by SkipTheDishes, this session reviewed the major shifts in how the bar industry operates and interacts with its customers. With Donna Crecca, Principal, Technomic, Blair MacNeil, General Manager Canada, Bacardi, and Steve Puchala, Senior Vice President, Restaurants, SkipTheDishes, these data experts dove into the latest consumer and sales trends to get a deeper understanding of what these market behaviours mean for the bar business.

Feeding the Recovery: Understanding Post-Pandemic Industry Shifts

One of the most highly-attended sessions of the RC Show, this panel explored the question: ‘how do we move forward and recover?’. Presented by Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, this discussion included Sylvain Charlebois, Senior Director of Agri-food Analytics Lab, Dalhousie University, Andrea Johnson, Chief Storyteller, Brain Candy Marketing Ltd., and Vince Sgabellone, Foodservice Industry Analyst, The NPD Group.

The effects of the pandemic will have a lasting impact, and the industry and consumers are changed forever. By examining successful case studies, these experts imagined how we might re-emerge from the pandemic and move forward with a solid understanding of what lies ahead.

The Pandemic Effect: Economic Outlook on Issues Affecting You

Presented by FCC, this engaging discussion between Restaurants Canada’s Senior Economist Chris Elliott and J.P. Gervais, VP & Chief Economist of Farm Credit Canada (FCC) was another top-attended session. Watch to learn about supply chain disruptions and economic trends to identify emerging oppor­tunities and risks in food markets. This discussion moved past the numbers and into analytical answers and data-backed insights to help you prepare, plan and recover.

Rediscover Your Guest: The 2021 Consumer

Presented by Labatt Breweries of Canada, this session took data and stats into account to understand how Canadian consumer sentiment towards the pandemic has evolved. Tracking changes in consumption patterns, at-home oc­casion trends, shopping behaviours and planned post-COVID-19 behaviour – essential key insights to understanding who your guest is and who they’ve become – it’s all here for you to design the right experience for the 2021 consumer.


Breakfast with Champions is Restaurants Canada’s annual power breakfast event. It’s where the leaders of the hospitality industry gather to ingest data-driven insights from top re­search companies and gain exclusive knowledge from industry innovators and inspiration from world-class speakers.

The latest research, trends, ideas and insights are presented to equip attendees with the knowledge and tools to successfully set a path forward. This year we welcomed Danny Meyer, Founder & CEO, Union Square Hospitality Group, as our feature keynote, along with presentations and talks by David Henkes, Senior Principal, Technomic, Maeve Webster, President, Menu Matters, Ryan Freeman, Director of Enterprise Partnerships, DoorDash, John Bunner, Operations Director, Alo Food Group, and David Bloom, President & Co-Owner, Sumac Restaurant. A special thank you to our sponsors for this event: PepsiCo, Diversey, Dairy Farmers of Canada, Doordash, Technomic and The Globe and Mail.


Every year, Restaurants Canada honours some of the brightest culinary talents in the hospitality industry. With such a monumental year, we were glad to have the opportunity to shine a light on a few people who put the thought, work, effort, and care to help the community around them. This year’s winners: Zita Cobb, Chris Zielinski, Suzanne Barr and Anita Stewart are profiled here.


There’s nothing like the buzz of live competition, but this year’s virtual competitions were a wonderful substitute that allowed some of Canada’s best up-and-coming talent to be showcased. This year we were proud to prioritize and hold space in the competition for BIPOC and female chefs and 50 per cent of competitors met this criterion.

In the Garland Canada Culinary Competition, young chefs were challenged to create a dish that demonstrated how to “Feed the Recovery”. Dishes were designed with the present and future state of the industry in mind and explored themes such as: innovative solutions for takeout, a dish that could travel long distances, a dish that could be frozen and reheated creating a retail solution, a fine dining home solution or a health-focused, nutrient dense option, to name a few of the pos­sibilities. The Garland Canada Culinary Competi­tion was presented by Garland/Welbilt Canada and Restaurants Canada with support from Dairy Farmers of Ontario, Canada Beef, Victorinox Swiss Army, High Liner Foods and Chicken Farmers of Canada.

Congratulations to all competitors for an amazing job well done. Special congratulations to Daniel Kim, Sous Chef, Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar (1st), Samantha Lamanna, Chef de Cuisine, Il Covo (2nd & Fan Favourite), Kasyndra Noseworthy, Commis Chef, Momofuku Kojin (3rd), Ken Yau, Chef & Owner k.Dinners/k.Dumps (3rd) and Nikko Policarpio, Sous Chef, Mineral Restaurant (3rd).

During the Beyond the Rail Competition presented by Beam Suntory, finalists were tasked with developing a cocktail to-go kit that demon­strated their creativity, marketing savvy and business expertise. Selected finalists created a short marketing video promoting their concept and a presentation to virtually pitch a “sellable” cocktail kit concept in front of a panel of esteemed judges. Congratulations to Josh Mellet (first place), and Madison Homewood and Marta Ess who tied for second place.


While every single session, panel, and talk were curated to benefit any operator seeking infor­mation, these are a few of our most-attended sessions I would like to call out. I highly recom­mend you catch the replay of these sessions with RC Show ON DEMAND.

The Future Workforce: How to Recruit & Rebuild Your Team Post-Pandemic

Presented by BDO Canada

In order to recruit and retain quality talent, restaurants need to reevaluate their recruitment tactics and company culture. This involves understanding the employment landscape and how to reach the new generation joining the workforce.

Mental Health: Increasing Awareness & Supporting Tools

Presented by WSPS

While health concerns over the past year have been centered on COVID-19, there has been another pandemic bubbling under the surface; a mental health pandemic. Lost and uncertain work situations, financial concerns and isolation have had devastating effects on many within our industry.

Progress in a Recession

Now, more than ever, it continues to be vital to understand and navigate important issues such as fair wages, civil rights, wellness, sustainability, zero waste, ethical sourcing, and intersectionality.

Sustainable Solutions to Boost Your Bottom Line

Presented by L.E.A.F.

Practicing sustainability doesn’t have to be a luxury. Sustainable solutions can be affordable, accessible and often put money back into your pocket. Hear from industry experts on the resources and solutions available so you can make green decisions, to bring more green back to your pocket.

Inclusive Kitchen: Tackling Systemic Racism

As we take a step back to reflect on this year, we need to look at how we can tackle the systematic racism that is omnipresent in our kitchens and restaurants. Learn how to break down these barriers and biases to create change and encourage inclusivity in your own kitchens and operations from our esteemed panel: Suzanne Barr, Roger Mooking, Eden Hagos, and
Philman George.

Maturing of the Ghost Kitchen Concept

Presented by Russell Hendrix

The ghost kitchen model is continually evolving and we are seeing new models and business approaches emerging. We brought international and local ghost kitchen operators to talk about their approaches, from a turn-key set-up to the sister restaurant partnership model, and the importance of location.

Exploring New Revenue Opportunities

Presented by BDO

We’re continuing to see restaurants and food businesses thrive outside the traditional bricks-and-mortar model. We sat down with caterers, pop-up purveyors, food trucks, and franchisers to learn how they grew, thrived, and found success outside of the box.

Check out the full schedule of RC Show for a sneak peek of all sessions here.


We were so lucky to collaborate with a number of brands and partners at RC Show 2021 who brought their expertise, knowledge, and informative and exciting activations to the dynamic virtual Exhibit Hall, Featured Areas, or with live sessions. These companies and brands are still available to connect with and take advantage of special offers through RC Show ON DEMAND. Here’s an appetizer of a few brands I recommend checking out.

Egg Farmers of Ontario

Egg Farmers of Ontario brought ideas to help restaurants ‘reinvent with eggs’ in a session with Technomic. Experts guided attendees through culinary and consumer trends for an exploration into how operators can leverage this cost-efficient and versatile ingredient. Find this session on the Culinary Stage.

Chicken Farmers of Canada

Chicken Farmers of Canada brought us ‘Behind the Barn Door’ with a live, onsite farm tour and Q&A with a farmer. Learn about what Raised by a Canadian Farmer truly means, so you can educate your guests and reassure them that the delicious chicken on your menu is raised by farmers you can trust. Find this session on the Culinary Stage.

Dairy Farmers of Ontario

Dairy Farmers of Ontario brought Victor Barry, Owner, Piano Piano and Afrim Pristine, Maître Fromager & Co-Owner, Cheese Boutique together to speak on the “Community & Collaboration: Diversifying Restaurant Revenue & Growing Margins through Smart Local Partnerships” panel.

These culinary titans chatted about how local partnerships with dairy and other agri-food producers were essential to operators diversifying and growing into new sectors. Find this session on the Culinary Stage. Also be sure to make your way to the platform’s Resource Library where you can find the 2021 Ontario Guide where you can discover local Ontario dairy products and recipes and learn about new opportunities and innovation to grow and diversify your business.

Quebec Spirits

In the “Discovering the Gems of Quebec” on the Bar & Bev Stage, presented by Spirits of Quebec & Made with Love, Andrew Whibley, Bar Expert & Owner, Cloakroom Bar, helped attendees discover the wealth of amazing gin products from Quebec through an innovative workshop. Head over to Featured Areas to learn more about the exhibiting brands brought to the RC Show by Quebec Spirits and download the Quebec Spirits Made with Love downloadable brochure including information on all Quebec spirits with recipes.

Bellavita Italian Pavilion

Bellavita brought world-renowned chef Massimo Bottura with them to this year’s RC Show for a session called “Made-in-Italy & Zero Waste: A Message of Authenticity & Sustainability”. Ralph Carlone, Bakery & Pizzeria Consultant, Pizza Per Passione Academy was also present with Bellavita for a workshop on “How to Make the Perfect Italian Pizza Dough” on the Culinary Stage. Under Featured Areas, make your way to the Bellavita Italian Pavilion for an overview of the exhibiting brands straight from Italy, information on the Bellavita tradeshow, and more.

Uber Eats

Presented by Uber Eats, “How to Bring Transparency & Consistency to Your Delivery Partnership” featured Asad Amin, Vice President of Ipsos, Robert Cifarelli, Director, Mobile Consumer Success, A&W Food Services of Canada Inc., Dan Gunam, Founder & CEO, Calii Love, and Nicole Wharry, Sales Manager, Uber Eats Canada.

With delivery becoming a growing avenue for restaurants, they discussed how important it is to create win-win relationships with your delivery partners. This panel was about making delivery work for your business with a partnership built on transparency, trust and providing a top-notch and consistent guest experience to your customers.

Also be sure to visit the Uber Eats booth in the Exhibit Hall to learn more and take advantage of special offers. If you didn’t get a chance to join us for RC Show 2021, head over to and register for RC Show ON DEMAND to take advantage of all the programming at your disposal until April 30, 2021.

The first 20 new registrants will receive an exclusive Feeding the Recovery Buyer Box. If you want to relive the incredible content, use your RC Show login credentials at

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