Winterlicious 2016 comes to end: ‘Huge success,’ says chef

by | Feb 11, 2016 | Life

(Vassilis/ FlickrCC)

(Vassilis/ FlickrCC)

Haley Falco

More than 200 restaurants joined this season’s Winterlicious, an annual food festival that boosts tourism and attracts foodies into the city.

Toronto’s top-dining restaurants served their best meals from Jan. 29-Feb. 11.

“The best thing about it is we have an influx coming from all over the place- Kitchener, Kingston, Ottawa- it exposes us to a whole new market,” John Ciampini, owner of Alleycatz Restaurant Lounge, told Humber News on Thursday.

Thursday is the last day of Winterlicious and restaurant owners say the last couple weeks were a huge success.

“Winterlicious makes us busier than we normally are for the whole two and a half weeks,” said Ciampini. “This year has been the best year. I’ve had to turn away close to 1,000 people.”

Restaurants offered their regular menus to customers, as well as signature meals specifically created for the two-week event.

Winterlicious occurs during what is often a quiet time for restaurants. People have the chance to dine in some of the finest places through the city for a really great price.

“Both menus provide the full dining experience at America for a very affordable price,” said Bill Osborne, Chef de Cuisine at America in the Trump Tower.

America has been participating in Winterlicious for two years now. Markus Bestig, Executive Chef at America told Humber News it excites him that they have the opportunity to introduce their five-star service and delicious food to a clientele that may not dine with them regularly.

According to several business owners, this year’s restaurants have success like never before.

James Lee, general manager from Arisu, a Korean-style restaurant, said that he expects his restaurant to be very busy tonight for the final day.

“Winterlicious is happy and successful for my restaurant. Compared to previous years, alot more people came this year,” said Lee.

“We definitely see heightened business levels during Winterlicious. Things have definitely felt busy here in the kitchen. There was a ton of great energy and the last two weeks have whizzed by,” Osborne told Humber News.


Many restaurant owners feel proud that their restaurant is a part of the festival, since the sign-up procedure can be quite difficult.

“Only qualified, reputable restaurants join this festival and I feel honoured to join in. Our restaurant is only five years old,” said Lee.

Bestig hopes that their restaurant will gain a new group of loyal diners.

“We are proud to be participating in Winterlicious because the festival allows Torontonians, and visitors alike, to explore the culinary delights of our city in an affordable way.”