On March 22, NC’s chair of Hospitality, Tourism and Administration was inducted by the Ontario Hostelry Institute as a Fellow of the Institute. He will be celebrated and presented with the prestigious award at the OHI’s 22nd annual Gold Awards Dinner to be held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto.
Stewart said he was excited about this significant industry recognition.
“It’s great to be recognized by my peers for the contributions that I and my team are making,” he said. “I know a lot of folks who are fellows in the organization and I have a lot of respect for them.”
Several of the college’s Hospitality, Wine and Culinary students were recognized at the event. The top honour of $5,000 was given to Melissa Terry who received the Bachelor of Applied Business Scholarship Award.
Terry, a third-year student of the college’s Bachelor of Applied Business-Hospitality Operations Management program, delivered an address at the event, which drew more than 200 industry leaders. Speaking on behalf of scholarship winners as well as Niagara College, she thanked the OHI for its generosity and for being an inspiration to their future aspirations.
“Offering scholarships to students does not just assist in covering the tuition bill but funds the dreams and goals of a new generation to enter the Hospitality and Tourism Industry,” she said. “Working hard not only in the industry but also academically, has provided the other recipients and myself the opportunity to receive these generous scholarships, and has given us the ability to focus on our studies and other achievements.”
Other NC recipients included:
Marielle Burnaccione, Event Management, Metro Toronto Convention Centre;
Morgan E. Perrin, College Entrance, OHI Award, $2,000;
Winery & Viticulture CFWI, Winery & Viticulture Technician OHI Award, $2,000; and
Winery and Viticulture Technician, OHI Award, $2,000, Winery & Viticulture, Canadian Food and Wine Institute.
For Stewart, the fact that his mother, culinary activist and author Anita Stewart, is already a Fellow of the Insitute and was recognized with an OHI Gold Award on the same night made the event even more meaningful. Stewart is proud of his mother’s achievements. In addition to her OHI Gold Award, her appointment as a Member of the Order of Canada was recently announced. He said his mother has been a huge inspiration to him, which led him to pursue a career in hospitality, as well as two of his three brothers who became trained chefs.
“Ever since I was very young, as young as I can remember, I started working with her, she would show me how to cook in the kitchen,” he said. “It was always a very communal event and there were strong family values in terms of gathering around the dinner table – something you don’t see as much of anymore but my mother always tried to continue.”
Stewart, who grew up in Elora, began working in the hospitality industry as a teenager. He worked his way up from washing dishes to small food prep to cooking, before gaining skills in the front of the house. He trained as a red-seal certified Chef, Commerce at the University of Guelph before completing his MBA at Wilfred Laurier University.
In addition to teaching at University of Guelph, Stewart’s career in hospitality opened doors to work opportunities across the country and around the world. He has worked on the front lines at renowned establishments including On the Twenty in Jordan; Scaramouche in Toronto; Sooke Harbour House on Vancouver Island; Le Moulin de Main Brun in Cognac, France; and Patout’s in New Orleans. He also has taught hospitality and tourism classes in the former Soviet Union and Peru.
“Travelling is great but it’s not the same as having the experience of living somewhere and getting to know the people, the culture,” he said.
Stewart began at NC as a Tourism professor about eight years ago. He developed curriculum for hospitality, food, culinary and service streams and was instrumental in the development of the college’s Bachelor of Applied Business and Hospitality Operations Management (BABH). He became coordinator for Tourism and began to work across the college as a curriculum coach for the Centre for Education and Professional Development.
Here at NC, he finds it important to spread the global village philosophy onto students, as well as the ideas about diversity, inclusion and access – substantial values of his.
“The importance of inter-cultural understanding is paramount to who we are as a school and who we’re becoming as a college,” he said.
For Stewart, it’s all about providing access to high-quality education. Over the years he has seen both the college its Hospitality programs grow.
He also looks forward to the upcoming relocation of the college’s Esthetics program and its hair salon to the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus where it will find a new home in a newly redesigned spa area. The move, expected this fall, will bring the Esthetics students to the same campus as other Hospitality students and, bring all college’s enterprises together under one roof.
“We’ve got everything here. It’s like a big resort, with golf management, hotel, food and beverage, spa, esthetics, hairstyling and office administration,” he said. “It’s great because it’s like we’re becoming our own little centre, and it’s all integrated with neat crossovers between the programs.”