No Toronto Olympics ... Big Vegas dinner ... YouTube pilot recruiting by BA
I'm kind of pleasantly surprised this morning, reading that Mayor Rob Ford's people have put the kybosh to the latest Toronto Olympic scheme. It's an eminently sensible position, but still makes me a little sad.
I covered all 157 both of the city's Summer Olympic bids for the Star, those being 1996 and 2008. The latter one was an impossible dream and was dependent on the Chinese doing something very silly. They didn't, our mayor did (the famous quote about being boiled by cannibals or such in Africa) and the rest is history.
Nineteen ninety six, on the other hand, is the one that sticks in my craw a little. Early on, Greece was seen as the obvious winner as 1996 was the anniversary of the 1896 birth of the modern Olympics. But Toronto plumber and Olympic activist Paul Henderson knew the Greeks might falter, so he launched a Toronto bid. The Canadian team quickly rose up the charts and Toronto, for a time, was seen as the front-runner.
But the NDP faction at City Hall, led by then councillor Jack Layton, wanted to attach many conditions on the bid, most notably a quest for affordable housing near the waterfront. The Bread Not Circuses people, with monetary help from City Hall itself, stirred up all sorts of negative publicity, and Atlanta came up with the winning bid. Yes, there were allegations of some dirty work by the Georgia bidders as well, with a huge surge in support among African IOC members suddenly popping up a couple months before the vote was held.
That's politics. But what's a shame, I think, is that 1996 - and 2000 - were the last of the manageable Olympics to be held. We all know what happened in the U.S. in September of 2001, and it changed everything for Olympic cities. There was security in Sydney, but it was nothing like the hassles and costs involved in Salt Lake in 2002 and in Olympic cities since.
The bill for security alone at most Olympics these days is said to be around a billion dollars, and one can only imagine what hidden costs there might be for London next year. And it's all money down the drain; no improvements to the city unless you want to count holding cells or lasers or new police cars or electronic eavesdropping devices.
I don't think it's worth it any more, and, quite frankly, the city of Toronto has done quite well without the Games. Yeah, it's taken us 20 years to get to where we might've been in 1996 had we won the Summer Games, but we DO have a much-improved waterfront with new parks and restaurants (I'm going to one today) and other changes. We have a stronger cultural base. We have new, five-star hotels popping up all over town.
We don't really NEED the Olympics any more.
But it still surprised me a little to read this morning that Doug Ford, the mayor's brother, was downplaying the concept of a 2020 Summer Olympic bid. He and Councillor Doug Holyday, a pretty sensible guy in my opinion, both suggested the city simply doesn't have the money, and that neither do other levels of government. Right on all three counts.
Yes, the Pan Am Games of 2015 will boost the city's profile. And the 2020 Summer Olympics might be the best chance Toronto will EVER have to win, since it appears there won't be a U.S. bid and the Summer Games haven't been in North America since Atlanta.
(That in itself would've been unthinkable 15 or 20 years ago, but the IOC has become much broader in its thinking. Hence the 2016 Summer Games in Rio and the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea).
But I agree it's not the right time for Toronto. One thing this COULD mean is that Quebec will bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics, so stay tuned for that.
BIG VEGAS DINNER
Thanks to Vegas expert and Star Travel correspondent Kathleen Kenna for this report...
Top chefs from the top restaurants in Las Vegas gather Oct. 16 for a $295-a-plate dinner to raise money for James Beard Foundation grants.
It’s the 10th annual Jean-Louis Palladin Dinner, held in honor of the late New York chef praised as “the greatest French chef in North America.”
Palladin won world attention for using unusual ingredients, fresh from farms and seas, and serving them at first-class restaurants, such as his first restaurant, “Jean-Louis” at the Watergate in Washington, D.C., and later, NAPA, in Las Vegas.
He changed fine cuisine in North America, and mentored many young chefs, before dying of cancer in New York in 2001.
This dinner honors Palladin’s techniques, with a menu ranging from wild Columbia River sturgeon to Togarishi-crusted Australian Kobe beef.
Brian Howard, executive chef at Comme Ca at the Cosmopolitan is creating sea urchin tongues with sea urchin flan and sea urchin sauce. Executive chefs Geno Bernardo and Barry Dakake of the Palm’s N9NE Steakhouse and NOVE Italiano are serving organic chicken from Mary’s Farm with fresh truffles.
Also on the menu: Maine lobster, domestic Sevruga caviar, white truffles, and Kashmir-style, Tandoori prawns. Among many desserts is a dark chocolate Grand Marnier Linzet tart from celebrity chef Megan Romano, executive pastry chef at Aureole at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino.
Top chef Andre Rochat hosts this seven-course dinner at his Alize restaurant at the Top of the Palms, on the 56th floor of the Palms Casino Resort. It offers a 280-degree view of Las Vegas and the desert.
MC for the event will be “celebrity journalist” Robin Leach, who lives in Las Vegas.
Proceeds benefit the Jean-Louis Palladin work/study grant, up to $10,000 for working chefs.
For reservations: 702.951.7000. More info: www.jamesbeard.org.
YOUTUBE PILOTS? UM.....
My first reaction was I thought I had fallen asleep and awakened on April Fools' Day. But apparently it's not a joke.
A story in the Belfast Telegraph states that British Airways has launched its biggest pilot recruitment drive in a decade and that they're using YouTube as part of the plan. It sounds goofy, but apparently they'll be posting information on YouTube about their training programs, and in that context it makes perfect sense.
American President Barack Obama used social media to his advantage in the 2008 election and almost certainly will try again. So why not? The old codger in me thinks it's silly, but no matter how you initially contact someone they still have to go through formal training like every other applicant. And if you want to reach a broad base of folks these days, YouTube and Twitter and other social media obviously are hugely important.
Just don't forget to take out an ad in the Star, too, okay guys?