Kalmar says goodbye to a ‘magical, beautiful place’

Old Mill Toronto owner Michael Kalmar says goodbye to ‘a magical, beautiful place’

Party held to celebrate outgoing president and VP; new owner Frank De Luca promises a ‘seamless transition’

Old Mill Toronto is under new management. A reception was held in former owner Michael Kalmar’s honour Thursday evening to celebrate his 24-year contribution to the Toronto landmark. He is pictured here, at left, with new owner, Frank De Luca, a long time Etobicoke resident.

Family, friends and colleagues gathered Wednesday evening at the Old Mill Toronto for a final farewell party to bid adieu to its president Michael Kalmar and VP of finance Blain Parsons after more than two decades owning and operating the century-old landmark.

The iconic restaurant, hotel and banquet complex on the bank of the Humber River has been sold to a property management group directed by Frank De Luca, a long-time Etobicoke resident.

There was lots of reminiscing at the reception, held in the Old Mill’s Guildhall Room, July 23, that featured none other than acrobatics, even a mime, who welcomed celebrants at the hotel’s front entrance.

Those closest to Kalmar wouldn’t expect anything less to celebrate a man who is described as the life of the party.

“It’s better than a wedding,” Kalmar quipped, “because I know everyone here.”

After partaking in appetizers and beverages, guests were treated to a trip down memory lane through stories shared by Kalmar and Parsons’ long time friends and coworkers, as well as Kalmar’s son.

Natalie Bauer, Old Mill Toronto’s director of marketing, communications and events, called Kalmar a “fabulous leader, an extraordinary person, who I think is quite awesome.”

“I’m sad because when I think of the Old Mill, I’ll think of you. You’re one of the best mentors I’ve ever had,” Bauer said.

Catering manager Helen Weech expressed her mock frustration at Kalmar’s departure.

“I was supposed to retire before you,” she pretended to scold.

Wheech recalled when her office was situated directly below Kalmar’s and all the times she had to bang on the ceiling because it sounded like he was having a party. At the podium, Weech told of Parsons’ John Travolta’s Saturday Night Fever impersonation, which garnered laughter from her audience.

Kalmar’s son, Lorne, took a turn behind the microphone to share memories and express gratitude and pride for his father.

“I grew up here, running around. We consider this a second home,” Lorne said of the Old Mill, standing beside his two sisters, Rachel and Alana. “Even if it took our dad away from us a bit, he made up for it with free buffet food.”

He added, “This is quite emotional. I’m so grateful for all you’ve done. I’m so proud of you, dad.”

The Old Mill’s heritage and its integrity will remain, vowed new owner De Luca, who celebrated Wednesday evening, but chose not to speak, making sure the spotlight remained on Karlmar and Parsons.

De Luca stressed the change of ownership will be a “seamless transition” in a statement.

Recalling his many years with the mill, Parsons said, “It’s been a rewarding and wonderful journey.”

“I can honestly say, every morning when I came in here, I felt refreshed, invigorated. It’s a magical, beautiful place,” he said.

Where does one begin when trying to say thank you and goodbye, mused Kalmar, as he expressed his appreciation for the Old Mill’s management and staff. Kalmar paid tribute to its founder, Robert Home Smith, and his predecessor William Hodgson. He didn’t get emotional until acknowledging his late father, George “GK” Kalmar, with whom he purchased the Old Mill, in 1991. The duo would go on to expand the Old Mill to include a spa and hotel.

By Lisa Rainford 

It’s Business As Usual


  It’s Business As Usual At The Historic Old Mill Toronto
Now Under New Ownership

After 24 years owning and operating the century-old landmark Old Mill Toronto, Lark Hospitality President Michael Kalmar has announced sale of the iconic restaurant, hotel and banquet complex to a respected asset and property management group directed by Frank De Luca, long-time resident of Etobicoke.

Expressing mixed emotions at now “ending this chapter in the century-long ancestry of the Old Mill Toronto”, Kalmar cited “three distinctive elements functioning in harmonious collaboration over the past hundred years to bring this cherished aspect of our city’s cultural life to the international prominence it enjoys today:

“At the forefront were the visionaries, risk-takers, and entrepreneurs who guided growth and transformation of the ever- evolving complex throughout its existence – founder Robert Home Smith, followed by the dynamic William Hodgson, and latterly, George and Michael Kalmar, the father/son team who orchestrated the addition of a boutique hotel and spa in 2001, and established the Home Smith Bar which has become one of the city’s most popular jazz venues.

“Of primary importance, too, has been the generations of dedicated staff who have personified the value and importance of customer service as a guiding principle of Old Mill policies from our earliest beginnings.  And our loyal customers, a multi-generational roster who have enjoyed, and helped create the century of memorable experiences that enrich our history.”

Commenting on acquisition of the Old Mill Toronto and plans for its continuing operations,  principal Frank De Luca affirmed that it will be a “seamless transition”.  It will continue to be operated with respect for the establishment’s colorful heritage and a commitment to maintaining  the integrity of its current standing in the local, national, and global communities.  The vision for the future will reflect its celebrated history as a centre for the community.

For The Old Mill Toronto, contact:

Natalie Bauer –      

Adam De Luca –

Chocolate Espresso Mousse Recipe

Chocolate Espresso Mousse 

Try this easy-to-follow chocolate Espresso Mousse recipe straight of the press from our Pastry Chef Hayley. This delicious dessert is so impressive your guests won’t think you had time to make it yourself!

500ml (2 cups) 35% Whipping cream

454g (1lb) Dark Chocolate (not cookie style chocolate chips)

3 Eggs

1/4 cup White Sugar

50ml (3tbsp) Espresso or 2tbsp instant coffee


1. Using an electric mixer, or a hand whisk, whip the cream to soft peak stage. (Whipped but still slightly soft). Set aside in refrigerator.

2. Using a double boiler, melt the chocolate with the espresso/instant coffee until smooth and lump free.

3. Using electric mixer or hand mixer, whip eggs with sugar until they are light and fluffy.

4. Add melted chocolate to whipped eggs and mix until smooth. The mixture will deflate slightly with the addition of the melted chocolate.

5. Gently fold in the whipped cream by hand using a spatula until it is smooth and no lumps of whipped cream remain.

6. Pour into desired vessels (glasses, ramekins etc.) and chill in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours before serving. (looks cute pipes into small teacups)


“Festival Within The Festival”

“For the fourth consecutive year, the Home Smith Bar’s ‘Festival Within The Festival’ was one of the runaway hits of the 10-day TD Toronto Jazz Festival annual extravaganza, with tickets for all four concerts in the Home Smith Series sold out well ahead of the first performance.

Once again produced by veteran Toronto event manager Fay Olson who has held responsibility for jazz project development and performer booking at the Old Mill Toronto for nearly a decade, the 2015 Home Smith Bar ‘Festival Within The Festival’ fielded another four-night spectacular, offering music lovers the opportunity to get up-close-and-personal with vocal royalty Heather Bambrick and Jackie Richardson, trombone giant and music director Russ Little’s all-star Quartet (Tom Szczesniak on piano, Scott Alexander on bass, Brian Barlow on drums), and guesting music luminaries who joined the stellar troupe in an all-new show nightly.

Ultimate entertainer Heather Bambrick — multiple award-winning vocalist, highly-rated JAZZ.FM91 on-air host, and one-third of the smash hit ‘Broadsway’ ensemble — got things off to a sizzling start June 19 with musical BFF Amy Cervini in from New York to add her vocal superiority to the series launch.  Juno-nominated songstress Amy McConnell joined the featured guest line-up for another unforgettable performance June 20. 


Canada’s reigning queen of jazz, blues, and gospel Jackie Richardson‘s spellbinding musical talent, her dynamic personality, and, of course, some of her own multi-talented musical compatriots climaxed the closing weekend of the ‘Festival Within The Festival’. Affectionately known as ‘The Girls’ over decades at the forefront of the Toronto studio and broadcast scene, Colina Phillips and Sharon Lee Williams tore it up June 26.   Former member of ‘The Nylons’ and award-winning recording artist/composer Micah Barnes wrapped it all up in memorable style June 27. 

While the ‘Festival Within The Festival’ may be over for another year, the ‘Year ‘Round Jazz Festival’ at the Home Smith Bar continues non-stop, 52 weeks a year, presenting the best of the best jazz singers and instrumentalists on today’s jazz scene in the charming intimacy of the Home Smith Bar.  And in the meantime, stay tuned for the Toronto Downtown Jazz Society’s announcement of plans for the 30th edition of the TD Toronto Jazz Festival in June of 2016.  You can be sure planning for the Home Smith Bar’s role in this important international jazz showpiece won’t be far behind.

Photo Credit Don Vickery

Corporate Culinary Experience


Corporate planners, event organizers and attendees are looking for more of a culinary experience, rather than your traditional “meal”.  Creating menus that provide the elusive balance of tantalizing flavors and exquisite presentation will lend subtle elegance and impeccable style to your next event.

Hors d’oeuvres are presented with more of an artist’s eye and a social conscience. Healthy, clean eating is fast becoming a popular choice in menus, it’s not just about the vegetarians or special dietary requests anymore, now it’s main stream.

Food stations are a great way to give people variety and get guests mingling and while creative menu items are important, don’t underestimate the power of presentation. Unusual food presentations can make an indelible impression on guests and enhance their overall event experience considerably.

Check out some unique food presentation ideas on pinterest.

Themes are more popular these days so consider adding sparkle and glitz to your next event with a farm to table theme by bringing people together to enjoy local food from local farmers and prepared by local chefs who are experts in bringing the freshest ingredients to the table in creative and unique ways. 

Wine Pairings and chef’s tasting menus and let’s not forget delicious craft beers served with a tapas style menu can bring a certain flair depending on your group size of course.

Events that have ethnic-specific themes allow event planners and the executive chef to work together to bring region-specific and international foods into your event, and this will definitely please guests. Common ethnic catering includes the following:

  • Asian/Chinese/Japanese
  • French
  • German
  • Greek
  • Italian
  • Mexican
  • Middle Eastern

As with all event meal planning, it is critical for an event planner to find out if any of the guests have a special dietary restrictions such as food allergies, so that the catering manager can address those needs prior to the event. 

When you make the organizational experts at the Old Mill Toronto an integral part of your planning team, and utilize their event planning tips, you can be confident that together, we will accomplish your every objective for a successful event.

Wedding Decor Trends

Congratulations you got engaged, now on to the good stuff! 

Couples are keen on infusing their ceremonies and receptions with personality — their own. And while you want your guests to have lots of fun, you still want your wedding to be elegant and romantic no matter how grand or intimate the affair.  The decor or theme of your wedding should reflect who you are as a couple, achieving an overall personal and unique feel based on your tastes. Your individuality will come together in the details.  

The reception sets the scene, it’s when families meet and the atmosphere begins. In fact, the atmosphere set at the reception will continue for the rest of the day. Hungry guests never equate to a happy atmosphere, so it’s a good idea to serve hot and cold canapés, choosing from a wide selection of items, with high visual impact and lip smacking taste. 

 The top three trends for wedding decor…  

Vintage - this Victorian influx of stylish details brings to mind afternoon tea and garden parties (think Downton Abbey). For this look, dining al fresco is a popular choice. Tables are often left uncovered or simply adorned with a vintage lace cloth. Lush garlands get turned into runners and loosely styled floral centerpieces hang from above.  The standard Victorian flower is the rose, but other flowers such as pansies, hyacinths, tulips, and stephanotis evoke similar romantic emotions. Think chandeliers, vintage plates, white-wash vintage vanities.  Look on pinterest for some Romantic Vintage Table Settings.

Modern luxe - At the opposite corner of the inspiration board is a more sophisticated interpretation of romance. Brides who covet sleek style will gravitate toward clean color palettes with bolder accents. Think varying shades of white or ivory with a burst of poppy red, or black-and-white with a punch of emerald green. Modern doesn’t have to mean minimalistic.  Square dining tables, clear “ghost” chairs, geometric place settings, monogrammed napkins and sculptured floral arrangements help set a sophisticated tone for the evening.

Eclectic elegance - Falling somewhere between the above interpretations of romance is a resurgence of the grand wedding. “Many 2015 weddings, saw the return to classic elegance,” says Allyson Levine of Bob Gail Special Events in Los Angeles. That means formal tablescapes, butler service, candelabras and other soft lighting, dramatic cakes, lavish fabrics and formal floral arrangements. The eclectic element comes into play when couples choose to take their formal affair outside for a twilight party; opt for a gilded evening with lots of glittering blush-gold touches; replace centerpieces with champagne towers; or surprise guests with a midnight arrival of an ice-cream truck parked curbside.

Couples are rewriting the predictable pattern of a “traditional” wedding day, shunning routine for the chance to throw in unexpected elements designed to stop everyone in their tracks and create a memorable moment. Food wise this means weird yet wonderful flavour combinations (coffee-rubbed meats), live-action food theatre (oyster shucking stations), lavish self-service bars (jugs of fruit purees and magnums of Champagne) and show stopping canapé platters (with their own lighting). 

Sweet treats as a parting gesture – just when your guests turn to leave they are presented with something wonderful to eat on their way out. A cup of warm milk with a cookie, a shot of espresso and some Turkish delight, hot chocolate with mint marshmallows, a sweet treat from the late-night candy bar… Proof that you’ve thought of them right to the last moment!

Our wedding planners offer you personalized service to guide you in making the planning of your most important day as simple as saying “I do”.