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You are here: Home  July 2008  How's Business Bees and brewers at Royal York

Bees and brewers at Royal York

TORONTO—“Honey is so versatile,” enthuses David Garcelon, executive chef at Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York Hotel when talking about the bee hives he has recently installed on the roof of the venerable hotel.

“You can use it for salad dressings, soups, pastries, baking, and it’s great with poultry. Vegetables, carrots, banquets, ice cream, frozen yogurt—I can’t think of where you wouldn’t use it. One of our specialities is a Field and Forest Mushroom Chowder.  We use fireweed honey for that.”

But now that the Royal York has its hives, Garcelon plans to use his own honey.  “We use 1,000 pounds of honey a year, and we’re hoping that next year we will supply 700 pounds of that.”

The health benefits of hotel-grown honey are many, according to Garcelon.  It’s natural, doesn’t need to be pasteurized, and they won’t use any chemicals. “But most importantly, our honey will be unique. The bees will forage throughout the GTA—there’s a beekeepers’ co-op at the Don Valley brickworks and its honey tastes excellent.”

Garcelon worked with the Toronto Beekeepers’ Co-op, who delivered enough bees to start two new hives, and gifted a mature hive to the hotel. 

The hives have hotel-inspired names: the Honey Moon Suite, the Royal Sweet and the V.I.B. Suite.  The co-op members will help hotel staff manage the hives as well.

“My advice is to get in touch with experts – people in the area who keep bees already, and develop a partnership.  Beekeepers are professional and knowledgeable,” says Garcelon.

Garcelon says he has handled the frames within the hive and seen hundreds of bees up close. “Bees get a bad rap—people are afraid of getting stung. Bees aren’t naturally aggressive. If you leave them alone, they’ll leave you alone.”

The hives are on the roof of the 1,365-room hotel, not far from the herb garden that also helps supply the hotel restaurants.
The roof is home to what Garcelon calls, “the world’s smallest vineyard”, and this year they have also started growing hops.

In honour of the bees’ arrival, the hotel has created the B & B & Bee Package which includes:

o    Accommodation in a Fairmont room;

o    Full breakfast for two in EPIC or York’s Kitchen;

o    Valet parking for one vehicle;

o    A souvenir bee soap;

o    A $1 donation to the Toronto Beekeepers’ Cooperative.

This package is available from July 5 to September 1, 2008, subject to availability, with rates starting from $224.

First Brewer’s Dinner

On Wed., June 11, the same night some of the bees arrived, the Royal York hosted its first-ever Brewer’s Dinner in Piper’s Gastropub, featuring Blanche de Chambly, Ephémère, Chambly Noire, La Fin du Monde and Maudite beers, all from Unibroue, at a cost of $90 including dinner, beer pairings tax and gratuities.
“Pipers Gastropub’s first Brewer’s dinner was a great success,” says Robert Meyer, food & beverage manager for the hotel. “Our coast to coast Canadian menu was well reflected in the dinner.”

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