The Speakers Series event is hosted by Splendido restaurant and Jon Dwyer of Flax Energy. The premise is simple: offer a beautiful space with meticulously crafted food and couple it with an engaging talk. On this occasion, we got to hear the Globe and Mail’s Editor-in-Chief, John Stackhouse, share his recollections and memories of being in the “journalistic trenches.” He provided insights into the changing landscape of journalism, digital media, and the fate of the newspaper. Here are five things we learned that evening…
Don’t mess with John.
Mr. Stackhouse is a phenomenal storyteller; he’s brimming with hilarious anecdotes. Here’s how he handled one problem as a child: as a nine-year-old paperboy who made his delivery rounds in Scarborough, he was required to pay for all the newspapers prior to handing them out. It was then his responsibility to get the $0.90 returned to him for each paper. However, he once had to strong-arm a rather particular and God-fearing man who wasn’t prone to paying his newspaper fees on time; he cited Sunday (payday for Stackhouse) was a religious day and he was not to be disturbed. Crafty Stackhouse circumvented the issue by ‘forgetting’ to include the man’s TV Guide insert with his newspaper. The following Sunday, he ‘remembered’ to owe John the $0.90.
Food Euphoria can be experienced at Splendido.
The last time I ate at Splendido was when they were branded as a ‘fine dining’ establishment. While it has since adopted a more casual ambiance, the food and service is still superb as it ever was. The staff is gracious, well informed, and the fare was flavourful. Highlights include our organic Irish salmon appetizer; it echoed textures one would find in a sashimi style preparation. However, the chubby coral pieces were cooked via a cure mixture which included salt, sugar, coriander seeds, orange, lemon, and lime zest. The salmon pieces were nestled together like soldiers on the plate and wading in a fortified tamari sauce. It was dusted with a train of salt and pepper coloured nori and seaweed down the centre. The landmines of flavour didn’t stop there; with dots of garlic and avocado puree, the barracks of pan seared rice cubes stationed beside the fish made for a dish that was firing on all cylinders.
With great power comes great responsibility.
Perhaps you’re thinking of Spiderman but you should be associating these thoughts with Mr. Stackhouse instead. Before the explosion of the internet and the ability to disseminate information to the world with the click of a mouse button, most information was relayed by one or two people. In 1998, Stackhouse was in the eye of a hurricane when the city of Jakarta was going up in flames; it was riddled with riots and civil unrest. His only means of communicating the crisis to the rest of the world was via one land line at the BBC building which he fled to. The same thing happened when he was sent to Somalia, but there were unforeseen consequences that occurred when he reported the famine and death that plagued the country there. After sending their verbal dispatches through the UNICEF house at $10US/minute, the Canadian Government had sent in a fleet of military based solely on what he and Paul Watson had reported. With no other media reports to make a decision on, it was a hasty choice to say the least. Note that it’s impossible for this to occur today. Again, jaw dropping.
Addictions can be good.
When it comes to any cuts of beef, I typically steer clear of them simply because I cannot finish an entire portion. It was different this time. For our mains, we were given a succulent rib eye cap. Sourced from Cumbrae’s butchers, the meat’s quality was apparent and the chefs at Splendido dry aged it for two months. The transition from preparation to plate was rather a simple one but only because reliance on technical execution was more demanding. With a simple seasoning of salt and pepper, the cap was cooked via charcoal grill to a perfect medium rare. With the rugged landscape of the smokey barque aligning forces with the tender flesh, the meat made for the ideal terrain to dip into the broad brush strokes of tangerine hued romesco sauce. Picture perfect heirloom tomatoes from Vickie’s Veggies completed the stunning plate.
Realistic but not pessimistic.
While some speculate that we may soon be hearing the print newspaper’s eulogy, it does no good to think in such an apocalyptic manner. Rather, one must devise strategies to preserve the integrity of the newspaper and what it stands for. To John, the Globe and Mail means an opportunity to share a sense of country, our Canadian identity, and how exceptional we are as a people. If that should ever get lost in translation, then the paper should cease to exist because it’s forgotten who and what it represents. Another factor cited as a key to the survival of the Globe and Mail is to propel strategies for youth engagement. Whether it’s creating apps to make the paper more accessible online, or connect G&M to more social media platforms, it’s important to bridge the divide now. Lastly, because the paper is a business, it also needs to balance the needs of its readership, find ways to monetize its online content, and learn to contend with advertisers masquerading their stories as editorials and not advertorials.
BONUS Check out Splendido‘s awesomely revamped vibe…