Spirit of Niagara Award: Craig Youdale wins Celia Liu Award for Hospitality


CFWI dean Craig Youdale receives the Celia Liu Award for Excellence in Hospitality at the Spirit of Niagara Awards on Feb. 27. Youdale stands with Liu's sister Erica Lepp at the awards ceremony. Lepp also established a memorial bursary in Liu's honour at Niagara College in 2014.

As the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake gathered to celebrate its outstanding individuals and businesses, NC’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute dean Craig Youdale found himself in the spotlight.

Youdale was announced as the winner of the Celia Liu Award for Excellence in Hospitality at the Spirit of Niagara Awards. Organized by the Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce, the award ceremony was held at Queen’s Landing on February 27.

The Celia Liu Award is given to an individual, group or business that has demonstrated outstanding commitment to delivering excellence in hospitality, proven over multiple years, with a positive, unifying influence on various sectors of the community. The award is presented annually in remembrance of  Celia Liu, who was one of NOTL’s most highly regarded innkeepers and the driving force behind raising the town’s recognition as a top wine and culinary destination. Previous recipients have included Richard Reid (2016), Vintage Hotels (2015), and Del Rollo (2014).

CFWI dean Craig Youdale (middle) stands with NC president Dan Patterson (right) and previous Celia Liu award recipient and the vice chair of the Niagara College Board of Governors Del Rollo at the Spirit of Niagara Awards.

Youdale noted that he was thankful to the NOTL Chamber of Commerce and to Celia’s Liu family for the honour.

“Recognition is never about an individual, but always drives from the organization and the people that surround you,” he said. “I am lucky to work with passionate, hardworking people that allow me to be successful and bring our team forward to bigger and brighter things.”

This recognition from the Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce comes less than a year after Youdale was honoured with a prestigious Gold Medal in Education from the Ontario Hostelry Institute. The OHI Gold Medal was awarded to Youdale in recognition of his leadership in the food and beverage industry, and at the Canadian Food and Wine Institute, as well as for leading the College’s Junior Culinary Team Canada to podium finishes at the Culinary Olympics in Erfurt, Germany (2016) and other major culinary competitions.

Celia Liu Memorial Bursary at Niagara College

The memory of prominent Niagara-on-the-Lake industry leader Celia Liu is strong at Niagara College. Established by Liu’s sister, Erica Lepp, in 2014, the Celia Liu Memorial Bursary is an ongoing celebration of Liu’s life, and her dedication to the industry and community she loved so dearly.

The Celia Liu Memorial Bursary is awarded to a student from the College’s School of Hospitality, Tourism and Administrative Studies (from the Bachelor of Business Administration Hospitality Co-op; Hospitality and Tourism Management graduate certificate; or the Hospitality Management – Hotel and Restaurant Co-op program); who is in financial need and demonstrates academic excellence with a minimum 75% academic average. The recipient of this bursary is also guaranteed an employment interview with the Oban Inn Spa Restaurant in NOTL.

Liu was known as a tireless promoter of the Niagara region. A graduate of the Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne in Switzerland, she understood well the value of excellent industry-specific education and training. She applied her training, her passion for the industry, and her global perspective to making her family business – the Oban Inn, Spa and Restaurant in Niagara-on-the-Lake – a symbol of success.

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