Tag Archives: fundraising galas


Bravo and a big standing O to Toronto’s URBANSOURCE CATERING who, this month, celebrate 30 successful years in one of the most volatile and difficult to crack service industries – event catering.  Starting off with a modest yet stylish storefront on Yonge St at Davisville, founders CALVIN HAMBROOK (below right) and WAYNE ABELL (below left), have built up a loyal following of corporate, private and fundraising clients who sing their praises and re-book year after year, and a professional staff who delivers 5-star service at every event.

1091 The 2 Crazy Owners Opening DayAfter moving to the larger 396 Queen St East with its big commercial kitchen in January of 1990, the business expanded with more staff being brought on board then, when the space next door at #400 became available in late 2012, Calvin and Wayne took that over, opening a stunning art gallery (www.UrbanGallery.ca) with exhibitions curated by Toronto artist, Allen Shugar. The gallery hosts monthly artist events plus can be used as a private party/dining venue.

Calvin Wayne & AllenCalvin, Wayne & Allen (above L to R)

I had a chance to chat briefly with Calvin the other week, who gave me a brief overview of the evolution of UrbanSource Catering – here’s our conversation which is, perhaps, a great lesson on how to build a thriving business while maintaining high standards of service and always delivering a quality product.

Calvin, any personal thoughts on the significance of reaching this milestone with your business? Over the past 30 years, what we’ve learned is the importance of not only giving our clients the best food, and service, but creating a thriving environment for all our staff. We see and appreciate the talents and work ethic our staff bring to our company, both on and off-site. Permitting our staff to grow professionally and bring their own energy and talents to the table helped us become a responsive company that can cater to a broad spectrum of events. It lets us bring enthusiasm and passion to every dish we serve, every party we staff and every event we plan. That’s something our customers can attest to – and this is how you stay successful for 30 years.

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WWP-7200Weddings are such big business now – how have you seen catering for weddings evolve over the past 30 years…and are you seeing any changes ahead for this season’s wedding banquets?  Weddings have evolved in many ways over the past 30 years, yet in many other ways they are the same. Many couples are much more interested in being ‘hands-on’ these days, and look for a more personalized event. But it is still a big undertaking for them, whether it’s a small reception or a big event. Often it’s the first time they’ve had to plan anything as elaborate as a Wedding Reception – and our team of consultants keep everyone sane and happy – and actually enjoy their Wedding!  Our Wedding consultant, Kaspara Albertsen, has guided many couples through the whole planning stage, and helped them overcome hurdles to get the wedding they’ve dreamed of!

IMG_0163 Leek Wrapped Tilapia

BeefFennelCroustini party table

Knowing that Urban can supply full on-site service staff, how important is having professional cater waiters/service staff at an event? Having professional staff at an event saves you headaches and stress –our Staff Manager Jean-Marc Fontaine hears from our clients often, how they ‘couldn’t have done it without our staff’ or ‘Thank you for sending me xxx, they understood my party and my guests’. That’s the difference between throwing a party and being a GUEST at your own party!



IMG_0320 You have an exciting and innovative Exec. Chef, Lyndon Wiebe – what does he bring to UrbanSource? Lyndon (below) has cooked and traveled the world, and he has a great ‘taste memory’ of things he’s tried. He can make the classic dishes – as well as our 30 Years of Urban Classics  – but he is always introducing new and delicious dishes for us to offer to our clients.

Lyndo- HEAD SHOT6Each year, Urban supports a number of worthy charitable events – which ones and why?  We recognize the need to give back to our community, and Toronto is one of the most charitable cities anywhere. We support so many worthwhile charities: Assaulted Women’s Helpline, Fife House, Surrey Place, Casey House, Inside Out,  Nellie’s Shelter, Toronto United Church’s Heart & Vision and many area Hospitals and charity fundraisers.


IMG_0975 US-25 Any suggestions/recommendations for people planning weddings, corporate events or personal dining parties to create the best experience for their guests?  We suggest they make a list of all the items they can think of that they will need to provide for the event, assign an estimate of $$$ and a timeline. This will help them plan their budget, and how many guests they want to invite. If they see that this will be more than they can manage, either time-wise or budget-wise, they will save themselves a lot of headache, heartache and energy. This also makes them a much better-educated client, and will help them choose a caterer that meets their particular needs.

IMG_0063And what food trends do you see coming our way over the next year or so?  Street food, homestyle menus and ethnic dishes, especially South Asian and South & Central American. And more vegan, gluten-free and green-sourced foods, pickled vegetables, and house-butchered meats, artisanal foods….people are really embracing locally-sourced foods.

Seared salmon stackwasabi tuna canap+¬

If you’d like to experience what 30 years of successful catering and event planning can do for your next special event, dinner, gala or fundraiser, contact UrbanSource Catering for a quote: http://www.urbancatering.com/

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CONGRATULATIONS TO CALVIN, WAYNE and THE FABULOUS STAFF @ URBANSOURCE CATERING…wishing you another 30 years of delicious success!

2015 Decal Tourism Toronto

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Congratulations to UrbanSource Catering (www.urbancatering.com)  on another fantastic catering gig last night – the exciting Fife House benefit “Spotlight” produced by Michael Rubinoff, featuring TV and Broadway star Megan Hilty with Seth Rudetsky, held at the Glenn Gould Studio in CBC headquarters in downtown Toronto. Urban has sponsored the food for this annual event for over a decade.

now_ad_2UrbanSource Catering always delivers great food and last night’s hors d’oeuvres were no exception…

20141110_181309 20141110_182056 20141110_184614 20141110_180358 20141110_180037I was especially thrilled to see the re-appearance of my favourite “cheesy balls” (they’re really very tasty risotto balls filled with deelish gooey cheese)

20141110_181150 20141110_184441 20141110_184426The bar was packed, too, with fabulous wines from our friends at Tre Amici

20141110_183617and the food service was handled by Urban’s always friendly staff

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20141110_182100Fife House (www.fifehouse.org) held a silent auction during the pre-show reception and there were lots of great items vying for bids, and the lovely volunteers selling drink tickets helped keep everyone well-lubricated!!

20141110_180250 20141110_184116Wayne W. Abell, Urban’s Catering Sales & Business Manager, posed with Fife House Exec. Director Keith Hambly (below)

20141110_182316Lots of guests packed the Glenn Gould Studio foyer devouring all the fabulous treats….including Urban’s Catering & Events Mgr. Calvin Hambrook and http://www.Newz4You.net publisher/writer, KJ Mullins pictured below with Wayne.

20141110_190802 20141110_191314Ooooo, look…more cheesy balls – I must have nibbled at least a dozen (or two) myself!! Yummmm

20141110_185418And I met the delightful Dusty Balfour who came in all the way from Niagara Falls to attend the event – damn, I want that tiara!

20141110_190404 20141110_190507Big thank you to everyone at CBC, the Glenn Gould Studio, Fife House (esp. David Currah, Dir. of Development & Communications), all the sponsors and the mgmn’t & service team at UrbanSource Catering. Bravo and a big standing O to all!


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Celebrity participants of SCRABBLE® WITH THE STARS, one of the year’s most anticipated showbiz events, are set to start laying down tiles the evening of Monday May 5th at the Arcadian Loft in downtown Toronto.   Benefiting the Performing Arts Lodge, (PAL) Toronto, which provides affordable housing to members of our entertainment industry, 2014 marks the 10th anniversary for this important fundraiser. Hosts COLIN MOCHRIE and DEB McGRATH (pictured below) will again be at the helm to ensure the evening is both a financial success and a fun-filled soiree for the stars, sponsors, media and PAL residents!


Today, Tuesday April 29, several sponsors joined Colin and Deb, and SWTS Chair KATE BARRIS, Founder VIVIENNE MUHLING and other committee members to add the sparkly sponsor stars to the Thank-You sponsors’ board located in the lobby of PAL. Featured in photos below with Kate (in green), Deb & Colin are sponsor reps: VINCE COMMISSO, President of 9 Story Entertainment (2013/14 Celebrity Sponsor)

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The new sheriff in town (below) is ALAN HOLLINGSWORTH, VP & Partner of HUB International (2013 Celebrity Sponsor)

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Below are BOB UNDERWOOD, President &  CEO of ACTRA Fraternal Benefits Society (left) and RON ZAMMIT (ctr) CFO of  ACTRA Fraternal Benefits Society (2013 & 2014 Production Sponsors)


Colin & Deb are real troopers, hamming it up with the PAL photographer, Norm, and myself…. and even playing a quick round of Scrabble just to get in the mood.

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There are still a few individual tickets available for anyone in Toronto who fancies themselves a keen Scrabbler, and there are lots of cool prizes to be won as well as raising funds for PAL.  For more details & to purchase tickets, please Email: info@scrabblewiththestars.ca or visit www.scrabblewiththestars.ca

Monday, May 5th from 6:00pm to 10pm at the Arcadian Loft, (Simpson Tower) Toronto 
Individual Tickets: $175 – Includes dinner & prizes galore …everyone is a winner!

Founded ten years ago by PAL resident VIVIENNE MUHLING, I had the pleasure of chatting with her, asking how Scrabble With the Stars started and how it supports the work done at PAL. I’d like to share that “interview” with you here:

What first inspired you to create Scrabble With the StarsI was brainstorming with our then-President, Nigel Napier-Andrews, about raising funds and awareness for PAL and we discovered Centennial College had a non-celebrity Scrabble-based fundraiser for a children’s charity. I myself am deeply into Scrabble, in fact, I’m a life member of the North American Scrabble Association and play in tournaments around the world.  At 75, I was still working both as a publicist and producer and had celebrity friends to whom I could approach — and it was worth trying!

10 years ago, who were your first celebrity players? David Warrack., Margaret Atwood, Sharon Lois & Bram, Dave Broadfoot, Don Harron, RH Thomson, Michael Burgess, Colin Fox, Paul Soles, Gordon Pinsent, etc

Why is it important to support the event? It’s The Performing Arts Lodges, Toronto,  only annual fundraising event and helps PAL to fulfill its mandate of “caring for our own” – these being all manner of aging and needful performing arts professionals.

How do the funds raised help PAL? In earlier years, the funds raised helped PAL hire and pay a professional Health Care worker who works in our “Supporting Cast ” department and helps needful seniors find the services they need, and helps our volunteers to also help those who need trips to doctors, etc.  For the last few years, we’ve been focused on raising funds essential to build or renovate a nearby building where PAL’s aging and ailing residents can receive extended care without having to move away from the friends who share their common interests and life’s work.

How have your sponsors helped drive Scrabble With the Stars to success?  Centennial College brought a Scotiabank executive as their table guest in our 2nd year. This executive was so enamoured by being able to rub shoulders with celebrities she admired that she was happy to bring the bank on board in year three. Their support has grown every year – they supply volunteers on the night, and the executive is always there to offer advice when we ask her for assistance. ACTRA Fraternal Benefits Society has been a sponsor from day 1 and has been very helpful in leading us to other major sponsors.

Anyone you would like to thank or acknowledge? There are so many…Jayne Eastwood, who told me that she and Gordon Pinsent painted and suggested we hold a celebrity art silent auction along with the Scrabble which has proven to be very successful. Marilyn Lightstone, who donates her art work and helps us reach interested journalists in the Zoomer media family; PAL Vice President Dan Lyon who vets sponsor prospect lists for us; my Toronto Scrabble Club pal Heather McCall who has been a hardworking committee member since day 1; John Chew, the celebrated international Scrabble Tournament Director who donates his skills to Scrabble With the Stars each year – I could go on……

Are you already planning next year’s event? We always have a wrap up committee get-together soon after each year’s event where we exchange notes of what went well, what needs improving or a new approach, and we will consider those notes at our first meeting for SWTS 2015 in early September this year.

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