Archive | July, 2011

The Bees Knees – Jessi Gillis and Highland Drive

28 Jul

Question: What do you get when you combine an entrepreneurial spirit, fresh local ingredients, and a swipe of red lipstick?

Answer: Jessi Gillis, owner and head chef at Highland Drive, and the best new thing on the Halifax catering scene.

Offering culinary lessons, catered meals, or even the opportunity to have a private chef for the evening, Jessi is living proof that food can be fresh, fun, and exciting. After attending one of Jessi’s events, we had to know more about who she was, where she came from, and what makes her tick (apart from whipping up some of the tastiest dishes you ever did eat – mini chocolate-chip cherry-ice cream sandwiches anyone?).

ThisNeedsToStop: How did you get started in the culinary business?

Jessi Gillis:  Not sure if this counts but I started working at MacDonalds when I was 14 (and loved it). I gave out far too many free ice creams and had a great time. A few months later as soon when I turned 15, I started as a hostess at a busy high-end restaurant in Vancouver called Settebello’s. They had an open concept kitchen and I found myself spending much more time talking to the cooks and asking to make my own staff meal than paying attention to my front of house duties. We then moved to Halifax where I started dishwashing and food prepping at Deco. I then went on to attend culinary school at George Brown in Toronto and also did a Post Graduate Diploma in Italian Culinary Arts.  I’ve never been happier than when I am in the kitchen creating dishes and playing with flavours. I also love to see people smile after they have eaten something I’ve cooked them, I like the thought of spreading joy through food!

TNTS: What made you come back to Halifax?

JG: I love Halifax. Halifax has amazing community support, great farmers (selection for local seasonal ingredients), local wineries, beer producers and the most important people in my life – my family and friends. I couldn’t imagine trying to start a business somewhere else. There is so much support here. People want to see small business thrive.

TNTS: What is the scariest thing about starting your own business?

JG: I would say being in full control, and understanding that it’s a constant learning process. It’s scary to think that I’m the one controlling the gears… That’s also exciting though because it’s a constant push. I also worry about people enjoying my food and my customer service. I am my biggest critic and it is incredibly important to me that all my clients feel as though they were given 150%, walk away happy and full!

TNTS: Where does the name ‘Highland Drive’ come from?

JG: I am in love with the 1940’s 1950’s era and I was looking at names from around that time to call my business. My good friend suggested I look at old street names from the 1950’s for inspiration. My grandparents lived on the street Highland Drive in Antigonish N.S. and built their house in the 1950’s on that street. I loved the idea of having them be a part of the name because all my great first kitchen memories come from eating with cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles at 63 Highland Drive. I want my food to reflect on that idea. When you eat it should be comfortable, happy and a memorable experience.

TNTS: What are some of your career aspirations?

JG: I would love to own a small restaurant called Highland Drive (around 35 seats with a small seasonal patio) and have a sister butcher shop. I think that butcher shops and restaurants pair very nicely, and this way I would be able to utilize and showcase locally the meat producers of Nova Scotia.

TNTS: Who is your favourite celebrity chef?

JG: Living? I would say Anthony Bourdain. I love that he eats everything and never turns down an adventure. He is also a great writer not just cookbook wise but writes fiction and non-fiction. I respect him because even as a celebrity chef it doesn’t seem like he craves the spotlight. Deceased? Julia Child.

TNTS: What is your favourite thing to eat?

JG: This might sound cliché but I really love food from all origins. It really depends on the day and how I am feeling. I eat arugula on almost everything but I don’t think that counts as a favorite food because I couldn’t just eat arugula.

TNTS: What is your favourite drink?

JG: Negroni Sbagliato, an Italian aperitif.  1 ounce Campari, 1 ounce dry Martini & Rossi Dry Vermouth, 1 ounce Dry Spumante (Prosseco) Orange Slice for garnish and a cerignola olive (Large green light tasting olive, pit in) serve in tumbler with ice. This is an amazing drink. It is bitter, fresh and incredibly addictive. Most people will have trouble with their first, but after will crave the taste again. Beautiful on a hot summer day paired with cured meats and cheeses.

TNTS: Where do you go in Halifax when you’re in the mood for a delicious treat?

JG: For restaurant, that has yet to be decided. I have too many restaurants to eat through first before I decide. But I do love Deedee’s Ice Cream. It’s amazing! (http:/deedees.ca)

TNTS: Who would you love to cook for?

JG: My grandparents. Since the age of 14 I have dreamed of becoming a chef, and from the moment I began talking about it and playing around in the kitchen my grandparents were incredibly supportive. I would be love to have them back just for a day so that I could thank them for their belief, support and inspiration with a nice family meal.

TNTS: If you could be anything other than a chef what would you be?

JG: A farmer/hair dresser. I know that’s an odd mix but I would love to have an old farm with a few livestock and rotating crop fields. I have worked on farms, and really enjoy the solitude and hard work. It is also so rewarding to actually harvest something you’ve planted and see what you can make from it. Hair dresser because I love creating with my hands and I think that is a great avenue for creative expression.

TNTS: Last but not least, what do you think is the bees knees?

JG: Pearls, lady-like dresses, and red lipstick!

Follow Jessi on twitter: @jessigillis

Check out her blog: http://freshflavoursmadefromtheheart.blogspot.com/

Laura Vandervoort – The Bees Knees

25 Jul

We are so excited to have been able to catch up with the incredibly busy and talented Laura Vandervoort. For those of you who don’t know who Laura is we will give you a moment to climb out from under your rock.

Laura is a seasoned veteran and has been in everything from Road to Avonlea to The CW’s Smallville where she played Kara Kent / Supergirl. As of late, she has been working along side Seth McFarlane and Mark Whalberg in the new movie “Ted”. If her impressive resume wasn’t enough to make you envious, her down to earth personality and jaw-dropping beauty should do the trick.

Born and raised in Toronto, Laura now calls LA her home away from home – but she will never stray too far from her Canadian roots.

Here you have it! Our interview with Laura.

This Needs to Stop: In 1997 we were reading Goosebumps but you were hard at work on set of the TV show. How did you end up in the business at such a young age?

Laura Vandervoort: Well its really not an exciting story. The earliest memory I have of wanting to be an actor was when I was about seven years old. The movie ‘My Girl’ came out. It was the first time I had seen a movie at that age that had so much depth and emotion. It affected me. First time I ever cried during a movie. It made me want to explore that world. Provoke emotions. I was shy, a tomboy and always silly so it seemed like an odd choice but why not. I got into the business around the age of 13  with no knowledge of how it worked and started doing background work on Canadian series and then a few commercials. To help, I took some scene study classes and trained outside of school between classes and martial arts training. Suddenly I got my first speaking role on the TV shows Goosebumps and Are You Afraid Of The Dark. Eventually I found myself on a Canadian series for 4 years. Some Disney movies and guest star roles on TV shows came along and then things started to finally ‘take off’ as I was cast in Smallville. It’s been a long journey and I have seen myself make many errors on camera….but its the best way to learn and grow. I continue to want to challenge myself with roles people wouldn’t expect from me.

TNTS: After Goosebumps you moved onto the popular show Are You Afraid of the Dark? Rumour had it they would put out the fire at the end of the show with blood. Any truth to this?

LV: Hahahah, no idea. That sounds to me like a tale to scare us little Canadian kids.

TNTS: You had a great run as Kara aka Supergirl on Smallville. What was the best part about playing a Superhero?

LV: Kara Kent/Supergirl was and still is very close to my heart. That role really allowed me to explore my fears on camera and try new things. It was terrifying stepping onto that set and into those red boots and miniskirt. I had grown up watching it on and off and was intimidated enough working with Tom, let alone playing an iconic superhero. I still remember my first day onset. Four producers stood around me in the hair and makeup trailer examining the hair, makeup and wardrobe. I was terrified. The best part would have to be the fans that I made during my time as Kara. Scifi fans are incredible. Attending Comi Con and other scifi conventions allowed me to meet them and talk to them. The feedback they gave would always be helpful. And the great thing is when i moved on to other movies or TV series they seemed to stick with me. I really do appreciate their support in what I do.

TNTS: Going to Comic-Con is a given when you work on a show like Smallville. What was the best pick-up line ever used on you there? (We can only assume there have been some gems)

LV: There haven’t been any pickup lines. But there have been a few tattoos. lol.

TNTS: You have not only been in several episodes of Family Guy, but now have been cast in Seth McFarlane’s new movie “Ted”. What does it feel like to be hand picked by one of the funniest guys in TV, and what has it been like working with him?

LV: Yes I was lucky enough to do three episodes of the Family Guy. Smaller characters but still a lot of fun to go into the booth and work with Seth. ‘Ted’ has wrapped now but was amazing to work on. I play “Tanya” one of Mark Wahlbergs co-workers at a car rental shop. The movie also has Patrick Warburton, John Veiner and Mila Kunis. The entire cast was fantastic and again I couldn’t believe I was truly working with them all.

TNTS: Who have you met that has left you the most starstruck?

LV: I’m really still getting used to seeing some of these actors in person. Mark Wahlberg was my first real crush hahaha. Had his poster in my room. So that was pretty cool for me. Also working with McG and Tom Hardy in “This Means War” was amazing. I had just seen Tom in the movie ‘Bronson.’ He is really such a talented actor. McG has done some really great films and was such a great energy as a director on the set. Also I worked with Ray Liotta on a film recently called ‘The Entitled.” That as you can expect was incredible. He is so intense when he is onscreen. Amazing to work with.

TNTS: We get the feeling (and maybe it’s just wishful thinking) that Canadian actors working in LA are all friends with each other. Is this true?

LV: Well not that far off to be honest. I’ve realized LA is a very small place when your in this industry…sometimes too small. Its not always healthy how small it is. I do know several Canadian actors and we all seem to share this ‘Canadian-Bond’ but its not like I’m hanging with Pam Anderson or Mike Myers.  There are a few Canadians I wouldn’t mind knowing hahaha but perhaps one day.

TNTS: Which Canadian actor/actress would you like to work with?

LV: Rachel McAdams!!!!

TNTS: Which awards show has been the most fun to attend?

LV: Hmmm, I recently was able to attend the “Green Lantern” premiere. That was an experience. A big event plus another Canadian superhero there to support. I went with a friend of mine so that made it a lot of fun.

TNTS: What is your all time favourite movie?

LV: Wow. Hard to really pick one. Im a fan of the Tim Burton-esque style movies. I love dark-humoured or just horror films in general. “Death Becomes Her” is a classic. But on the other side of the spectrum I also love “Tootsie” and “Kramer Vs. Kramer.”

TNTS: What is playing on your iPod right now?!

LV: Lately i’m listening to the “Moonlight Mile” Soundtrack. I have “Love Will Come Through” by Travis and “I’ll be your lover” by Van Morrison on high rotation. Incredibly moving and romantic songs. Sad….but romantic.

TNTS: You were living in Vancouver but now you spend your time between Toronto and LA. What do you think is The Bees Knees in both of those cities?

LV: I finally settled into a place here in LA. I had been avoiding committing to LA for a while. But I finally bought furniture….just wanting a dog. Badly. A husky! I travel between Toronto and LA now. Not so much Vancouver. Smallville and ‘V’ were both shot in Vancouver. Now that they are both over i just jump between LA and Toronto to see my family…lately Boston too for ‘Ted.’ I’m still trying to find what it is about LA that’s the “Bees Knees” but i have to say i have discovered a few hikes (Runyon Excluded) that take me out of the city and make things simple and quiet. Allow me to sit with my own thoughts. Thats fantastic and needed here in LA.  Toronto obviously is home. My family and good friends whom have all started their lives live in Toronto, (Lindsay and Dave i’m so excited for you guys.) It will always be home. So thats the ‘Bees Knees’ for Toronto.

This Needs to Stop: Vibram Five Fingers

21 Jul

I have spent the past seven years mocking Crocs and the people who wear them mercilessly. But I must confess: I still remember the very day I almost bought a pair for myself in a moment of confusion.

It was the summer of 2004 and I was living in PEI. I had been seeing these colourful shoes all over the place and had heard people raving about how comfortable they were, how they are hypoallergenic, how easy they are to slide on and off. My feeble, easily influenced mind decided that owning Crocs was a good idea. One day, while out browsing in some of the shops along the Charlottetown waterfront, I found a store that sold Crocs and chose a bright pink pair from the display.

I was in line to purchase those Crocs when I looked at them. I mean really looked.

And a little voice inside my head screamed at me. “For the love of Jesus, you’re about to spend 30-some dollars on PINK RUBBER CLOGS. Put them back on the rack and go get a box of wine instead.” And I did. (It was Hochtaler, for the record. And I mixed it with medications and I shouldn’t have done that and later that night I tried to beat up a girl for liking the Montreal Canadiens.)

Maybe I should have just bought the Crocs.

ANYWAY! Fast forward seven years and all sorts of good things are happened. My mental stability has been restored, for one. Crocs are mostly a thing of the past, which is also a blessing. However, there’s a new kid on the block that is causing me some grief.

Vibram Five Fingers are beginning to crop up in local gyms and on running trails. Apparently, the five fingers design allows feet to move more naturally and freely. I say it assists people who make it a point to go out in public looking as stupid as possible to achieve their goals of looking hideous. If you were out to win a gold medal in Fugliness, they’d be perfect. Otherwise, NO.

I don’t even know what to say about these things other than they’re ugly, they shouldn’t be worn in public, and if I see you wearing Vibram Five Fingers at the gym I am going to walk over and drop the heaviest dumbbell I can lift on your ugly sock-shoes. That’ll teach you to choose hideous footwear. Whatever disdain I used to harbour for Crocs and those who wear them has been shifted – and amplified – for VFF. Just say no.

Wednesday Weeping – The Prisoner Bride

20 Jul

When news of the wedding of Prince Albert of Monaco and his fiancee Charlene Whittstock hit the papers, my instant reaction was: “I don’t care about this other Royal wedding. I only care about Kate Middleton. Who is Charlene Whittstock? No wait, I don’t care.”

However, I have recently become significantly more interested in Monaco’s regal union when I actually watched footage of the ceremony. In the video, the bride, a former Olympic Swimmer from South Africa, cannot control her tears as she stands arm-in-arm with her groom (who happens to be 20 years her senior). Brides get emotional at weddings, so that’s really not so crazy – but these tears don’t seem to be tears of joy, but rather tears of complete and utter misery and fear. She is pictured shaking and wiping her eyes with kleenex as her husband maintains a steely glare and doesn’t offer any sort of comfort or tenderness towards his new bride. When the couple finally kisses, it has all the passion and romance of a kiss that you would give your great aunt Myrtle (the one with the hairy mole on her chin) at your semi-annual family reunion. One can’t help but wonder what the hell is going on here?!

So, I did some research in to the situation, and suddenly the Royal family of Monaco became much more interesting (albeit for entirely different reasons than Wills and Kate). It seems, according to various media reports, that in the year leading up to her nuptials Charlene Whittstock has attempted to escape Monaco and return to South Africa on 3 separate occasions. However, her passport was taken away from her, making it impossible to leave. When she sought help from the South African embassy, they turned back over to the Monacoian* officials. Sweet Jesus. This woman is a captive!

Prince Albert (who REALLY seems like a dick) has at least two illegitimate children that we know of, neither of whom is eligible to be heir to the throne. He’s under pressure to produce a ‘legitimate’ heir, and it looks like Charlene Whittstock is his chosen baby-maker. While she may have been lured by the life of a Princess at one time, based on the wedding video I’d say she’s pretty much over it. The couple are now on their honeymoon to South Africa, but allegations have been bubbling that Albert has fathered yet another child with yet another mistress in the last 2 years, despite the fact that he has been in a relationship with Whittstock for about 5 years. SCANDALS!

Anyway, I’ll be keeping my eye on these two over the coming weeks to see how this whole thing plays out, but in the meantime, you MUST watch this video.

Tell us what you think. Is Charlene getting exactly what she signed up for? Or is she a Prisoner Princess?

*I definitely had to google the proper term for an individual from Monaco. Now you know.

Fitness Tips for the not-so-fit

18 Jul

Today we have a special post from Martha Gallagher (@MarthaGallagher) – enjoy

It wasn’t too long ago that I was a newbie to fitness.

I was always that one kid that wasn’t thrilled over gym class. Sure, I did alright because i was game for participation marks, but I definitely didn’t excel. I can clearly remember loathing fourth period when it was time for the running unit. Twenty five minutes of running? Me? Unless someone is trained to deal with cardiac arrest this probably isn’t going to end well.

So when Sarah mentioned joining bootcamp I scoffed. Me, the bookish kid who regularly gets winded walking up South Street? Never gonna happen. But, in an effort to branch out of my comfort zone, I agreed to give it a shot. My original plan was to go for a month. If I could just get those pesky thirty days behind me I’d be alright to call it quits and go back to my relatively sedentary lifestyle. But here’s the kicker – almost three months later and I’m a hardcore regular. Sure, I’m not the best at most of the stuff we do, but the point is i’m consistent. And I’m going to go ahead and chalk that up as a victory.

So as a means to encourage you, the maybe not – so – fit reader, here are some tips to kick off your new fitness routine*

1. Insist that everyone you know touch your musclesJoel Kelly can attest that this is the best way to inflate self-worth.

2. Bring a friend – When you’re complaining with someone else it’s funny bantering. When you’re complaining alone you’re just a whiney bitch.

3. Be willing to try something different – Never in a million years did I think I’d be looking forward to doing a pushup. Just so you really get things put into perspective – during our first class my pushup consisted of a complete table top where i essentially humped the ground. Spoiler alert: I’m verging on being able to do a real man pushup. It’s taken almost two months, but it’s totally going to happen soon.

 Now it’s time for a shameless plug: if you’re feeling like you need some fitness in your life and you’re interested in spending an early morning getting entertained by some clowns who provide armchair commentary on anything and everything you should more than likely join us. We get together monday – wednesday + friday from 6:30 – 7:30 and on saturdays from 9 – 10 with our phenomenal trainer Ryan and an assorted cast of characters at Point Pleasant Park. I can almost guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

*I think this is the time where i say that it’s important to consult a medical professional when embarking on any fitness regime. fyi: apparently contemplating getting a phD online doesn’t make me THAT kind of doctor.

This needs to stop – Foursquare check ins

13 Jul

Ok, so before I get started on this rant, let me first say that I generally have no problem with foursquare or other check in and review services as a whole. I am in fact a huge fan of Yelp and love the idea that people can share helpful information through services like this. Key words in that sentence are “helpful” and  “information”.

Now with that said, let’s get into this. Do you know what I find annoying? When my Twitter stream is filled with foursquare check-ins at parking garages, toll booths and rest stops. Do you know what other people don’t give a shit about? When you are at a toll booth or where you park your car. The only people who care where you are parking are people that break into cars, and I would think that these are the kind of folks you don’t want knowing where and when you park your car.

I would also like to take this time to let people know that Twitter and foursquare are very public forms of social media. That’s right, in fact, it could be said that this is the entire point of these platforms. With that in mind, why would anyone think that it would be a good idea to tweet about ditching work, or foursquare check in at a bar in the middle of the day on a Tuesday? Maybe I am missing something but I doubt that this sort of behaviour is ideal for helping you advance your career. I would think that most employers would prefer their employees to be at work at 3pm on a Tuesday and not at the local pub.

My final concern is with the future of this sort of thing – what’s next? People checking in at the bathroom and the pharmacy (oh wait I have already seen that done). I am all for sharing but I think that we need to use a little more common sense and a little less of our foursquare app.

Help me get my short film made!

11 Jul

Four years ago, Chris Van Patten asked me if I would like to adapt a short story I’d written into a screenplay.

Me and Chris meeting in person for the first time.

Chris and I had met on a the forum for the scriptwriting software Celtx. Back then, Celtx was just in its beta stages, and we were both alpha testers on some of its early versions.

We seemed to have similar tastes and interest in film and filmmaking, and we struck up a friendship. Over the years, he and I collaborated on a few blog projects, kept polishing some of the scripts and script ideas we’d had, and became fervent supporters of each other’s crazy dreams and projects.

Just last winter we met for the first time in person, after having been friends for over six years.

And now, after all these years, we’re the closest we’ve ever been to getting our film made. We just need your help.

We have the script. Chris is ready to direct. We just need to get the attention of Celtx Seeds and show them that we’re ready and able, and have tons of support behind us, to get this film made.

So, please share this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QX7_PRhUi8s&feature=youtu.be

Please leave a comment of support on the video, too.

Thank you!