15th annual Grand Cru Culinary Wine Festival breaks fundraising record

L toR: Rob and Cheryl McEwen, Dwyane Wade, Ellen and Todd Halpern. (Credit: Tom Sandler Photography)

L to R: Rob and Cheryl McEwen, Dwyane Wade, Ellen and Todd Halpern. (Credit: Tom Sandler Photography)

The 15th annual Grand Cru Culinary Wine Festival, Canada’s premier wine and culinary fundraiser for medical research and innovation, raised a record-breaking more than $33 million for key programs funded by Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation (TGWHF), University Health Network (UHN).

Since its inception in 2005, Grand Cru has raised more than $63 million in support of UHN programs including: Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, Sprott Department of Surgery, Krembil Brain Institute, Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research, Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute, McEwen Stem Cell Institute, Soham & Shaila Ajmera Family Transplant Centre, the Arthritis Program, and the Diabetes Program.

Founded by Todd Halpern, TGWHF board member and UHN board trustee, the 15th annual Grand Cru Culinary Wine Festival, co-chaired by Todd and Ellen Halpern and Cheryl and Rob McEwen, took place from November 1 to 2, 2019. The largest of its kind in the world, the Festival brings together the finest wine, gourmet cuisine, brightest minds in medical research, and UHN donors and sponsors. This year, Grand Cru featured wines from more than 80 vintners from around the world, private gourmet dinners throughout the city prepared by more than 33 world-class chefs, and participation from more than 30 UHN clinicians and scientists who are advancing groundbreaking medical research and innovations.

“Never before have four Michelin-star chefs cooked together for such a worthy cause,” says Todd Halpern. “This event is the largest culinary wine festival in the world. It’s an opportunity for people to unite around food, wine and great conversation – all while supporting critical medical research. We are proud of how Grand Cru has grown into what it is today: a one-of-a-kind event with big impact.”

“Philanthropy fuels the many advancements we make across care, research and education at UHN. We are so thrilled to have achieved a record-breaking fundraising year that will directly benefit medical research that will help save lives,” says Dr. Kevin Smith, President and CEO, UHN. “A big thank you to all of our participating vintners, chefs, donors, dinner hosts, auction supporters and sponsors, and a special thanks to Todd and Ellen Halpern for their passion and for championing a healthier world.”

Back row L to R: Jason Bangerter, Gilles Goujon, César Troisgros, Michael Tusk, Léo Triosgros. Front row L to R: Ellen Halpern, Daniel Boulud, Todd Halpern. Not pictured: Tyler Shedden. (Credit: Tom Sandler Photography)

Back row L to R: Jason Bangerter, Gilles Goujon, César Troisgros, Michael Tusk, Léo Triosgros. Front row L to R: Ellen Halpern, Daniel Boulud, Todd Halpern. Not pictured: Tyler Shedden. (Credit: Tom Sandler Photography)

On November 1, 5,000 guests attended the bi-annual Halpern Portfolio Wine Tasting and the Grand Cru Live Auction at the Beanfield Centre. The auction included some spectacular items:

  • An extraordinary lot of the famed 2010 Brunello di Montalcino vintage – one of only six in the world – generously donated by the Soldera family
  • A 2020 Bentley Continental GT V8 Convertible donated by Grand Touring Automobiles and Bentley Toronto
  • A dream kitchen from Miele Canada and Snaidero USA

VIP guests on the Grand Cru red carpet this year included NBA champion-turned-vintner Dwyane Wade (Wade Cellars) and daytime television’s leading man Eric Braeden (The Young and the Restless).

On November 2, more than 800 guests attended the Grand Cru Exclusive Wine & Dine Experience – dinners which took place in 26 private homes and venues across Toronto. Each dinner featured menus prepared by top chefs, paired with extraordinary wines, as well as a UHN clinician or researcher who “served knowledge” on the latest discoveries and life-saving breakthroughs at UHN.

VIP transportation for Grand Cru was provided by Grand Touring Automobiles, this year’s co-presenting sponsor with Bentley Toronto. Additional sponsors included Air Canada, Miele Canada, Snaidero and Halpern Enterprises.

For a complete history of Grand Cru, including photos, the full list of sponsors, participating hosts, chefs, wine estates and UHN scientists, please visit grandcru.ca.