On the Town with Shinan: The Ace Hotel comes to Toronto and Curtis Stone pays a culinary visit

By Shinan Govani

So, Margherita Missoni, Jason Scwhartzman and Harry Styles walk into a lobby – no, really, they do. Then there’s Liv Tyler, Aziz Ansari… and wait, is that Sam Smith? Stay with me here.

Any celebrity GPS in any number of cities will at some point lead you to the Ace Hotel, which is known as much as for its offbeat decor and New Bohemia as it is for its breadth of boldface. And now, the “rustic-chic chainlet,” as it’s been called, is ramping up for its first Canadian property – in downtown Toronto.

Naomi Campbell attends a party at The Ace Hotel in London. Photo © Getty

“The ink is dry,” a source tells me about a deal struck for the hotel at 51 Camden off Richmond Street. 130 rooms. Built-to-suit. A deal struck, I understand, between Carbon Hospitality in Toronto and the Ace Hotel Group, with the prestigious Shim-Sutcliffe Architects onboard to steer the project. The latter is the team that’s nabbed a dozen Governor-General Awards for Architecture, with their work having been featured in the likes of Elle Decor. Meanwhile, it is developer Ken Zuckerman who’s seemingly pulled off this coup for the city.

Conceived in Seattle, the Ace brand has grown over the last decade to open outposts in Portland, New York City, London, L.A and beyond, each location with its own persona, but never “stripped-down and minimalist” – as Travel & Leisure sized them up not long ago – but rather, "idiosyncratic, cool, and casual.” Last year, they expanded interestingly enough to Panama City, with a Spanish-baroque-looking property known there as the American Trade Hotel. My own personal fave? The Ace, in Palm Springs, which gives off an unremitting Boogie Nights vibe.

Photo © The Ace Hotel Palm Springs

Where the Ace goes, the celebs follow, as was the case not long ago when the Oscar-winning Birdman star Michael Keaton hosted a party at their newer downtown property there, housed in the what was once the 1920s-era United Artists Theatre building. Safe to say our own Ace will have its share of film parties during the Toronto International Film Festival and beyond… but we shall have to wait until 2018. That’s the target date for the project.

Photo © The Ace Hotel Palm Springs

Meanwhile:

He came, he banged some pots and he conquered with his liquid-smooth Australian accent and his all-around foxiness. While in Toronto this week to promote his latest book, Good Food, Good Life – as well as doing an event at Destingo on Queen West – Curtis Stone admitted during an interview that he doesn’t really get asked to other people’s homes for dinner parties. It’s the inevitability of any celebrity chef. People are just too spooked to invite to a professional over to cook! Talking to CHFI, Stone jested that after he married 90210 alum Lindsay Price, even she complained to him that her own “dinner invitations plummeted.”

Photo © Good Food, Good Life; published by Appetite by Random House

Curtis Stone: Five tips to make any meal family-friendly

Also:

Quite a bit of coverage on both sides of the border lately for Canada’s Tatiana Maslany, as the new season of the locally-shot Orphan Black amps up. In particular, I was taken by a very complimentary article in The New Yorker, which summed it up thusly: “There are very good roles for women on television, and Maslany plays nine of them.”

Spotted!

  • Claire Danes, in town while husband Hugh Dancy shoots Hannibal, made the dinner-scene at Byblos on Duncan recently.
  • •Young philosopher Jaden Smith – whose dad, Will Smith, is in Toronto filming Suicide Squad – was spotted shopping at The Bay on Queen.

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