I was on the streetcar and covered in Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt when I received the email inviting me to have dinner at the Trump International Hotel with 60 Miss Universe Canada contestants. At times like those, a flurry of thoughts fly through your brain: I wish I’d worked out once since February… I wish I’d been whitening my teeth instead of forgetting about all those strips in the bathroom drawer… I wish I’d had my roots done this week…. I wish I hadn’t dropped Menchie’s all over myself…
The dinner was held on the 31st floor at Stock a week before the big event, a picturesque room that features luxurious seats, an abundance of crystal, and pink and blue lighting spraying the white walls. The food itself – mildly flavoured chicken, salmon, veggies, couscous and rice, to fit the girls’ dietary preferences – was served buffet-style, decidedly less intimidating than I had been expecting. As were the girls.
Once they finally arrived (you can’t rush a beauty queen after all), they appeared to be collection of normal girls with normal appetites. Yes, some were as perfectly made up as you would expect, but others were more casual and familiar. There was a variance in body types, though nearly all were tall (and they all wore high heels, so that helps). Most wore gorgeous and sophisticated dresses, while others were more playful, wearing brightly coloured prom-style minis. They all appeared to be friends.
While watching a beauty pageant on television, it’s sometimes difficult to understand how the judges can pick out the most “special” girls from the horde. Being in the room, however, you immediately begin putting yourself in the pageant judge seat, eyes catching on just a handful that really seem it have it.
There was tiny Angel Bhathal, 26, who was the only girl in the row who noticed I was taking her picture, and broke out into her gorgeous smile. I noticed Janelle Russo, with her enormous tattoo of roses and thorns on her right arm, and wondered how that would affect her chances in the competition. My heart belonged to Kathryn Kohut, 22, when I saw her jokingly rush the dessert table immediately after walking into the room, and I knew I was right about her when I noticed she went back for seconds of couscous and fresh fish.
And then there was Brittany Saunders, whose congeniality may just be incredibly practiced, but displays an infectious personality all the same. She chatted easily about her hometown, Prince Albert in Saskatchewan, and how she’d recently moved to Saskatoon for school. Standing inside the 5-star Trump Hotel in Toronto, she called Saskatoon “the big city” and laughed loudly at the irony.
After dinner, the girls listened to several speeches of encouragement from guests, like Ainsley Kerr who congratulated them on their combined collected donations of $75,000 for charity. I slipped out around the third speech, hoping they wouldn’t go on for too much longer. The girls certainly needed their beauty sleep, what with a full week of planned activities, the preliminary competition, and of course, the ‘rightful’ winner, Riza Santos’ eventual win at (well, after) the pageant.
Several days later the stunning contestants made their way to another exclusive dinner at Kultura Restaurant on King Street East. Taking a true walk through the eclectic and creative menu at Kultura, these goddesses of glam got an opportunity to experience what the culinary scene was all about in our fine city. Here a few more photos of those bodacious babes…
Images from Kultura Restaurant courtesy of The Scene Magazine.