What went down at Toronto Life’s annual Most Influential party presented by Holt Renfrew
Recently, Toronto Life hosted a glitzy party to celebrate its annual list of the city’s most influential people. Over 300 guests gathered inside Yorkville’s Holt Renfrew and toasted the 50 prominent Torontonians featured in the December issue. Plenty of the influentials made an appearance. Masai Ujiri, who topped the list after steering the Raptors to their first NBA championship, schmoozed with Mayor John Tory (No. 5) before delivering a speech about his love for Toronto. Jagmeet Singh (No. 8), who used a social-media-savvy campaign to boost his political profile during the 2019 federal election, posed for an endless series of selfies. And actor Stephan James (No. 29), who continues to climb the Hollywood ladder, made a brief but emphatic appearance before disappearing into the night—or perhaps he just went to browse the emptied department store, which had closed hours earlier.
Other on-site influentials included Cameron Bailey, TIFF’s artistic director; Kristin Cochran, CEO of Penguin Random House; Stephen Diamond, chairman of Waterfront Toronto; Mohamad Fakih, CEO of Paramount Foods; Alison Gordon, CEO and director of 48North; CBC radio host Matt Galloway; TPS inspector Hank Idsinga; and AGO head honcho Stephan Jost.
At the start of the evening, after mugging for photos at the TL Influential booth, guests ascended an escalator to the upper floor of Holt Renfrew, where servers greeted them with Mill Street beer and Brick Works cider. There were all sorts of potent potables available, including pop-ups by the Foreign Affair Winery and Glenmorangie Original Scotch. But if guests wanted something whipped up by a bartender, they could pick from a list of signature cocktails at the Diageo bar, which featured top-shelf liquor like Bulleit Bourbon, Tanqueray No. Ten Gin, Don Julio Tequila, Ciroc and Captain Morgan Rum.
Gimmemar, a rising Toronto DJ, played a groovy mix of electronic, disco, funk and Afro-house music, including tracks like “Music” by Madonna and “Get Down On It” by Kool & the Gang. Guests chatted and sampled tasty snacks like oysters from The Chase Fish & Oyster, plant-based sushi and burgers from Planta, two kinds of tartare (steak and beet) and fried chicken bites—all of which came together courtesy of The Chase Hospitality Group, who catered the shindig.
But the evening wasn’t all eating, drinking and bigwig back-patting. It also supported a good cause by raising awareness for ComKids, an organization that provides youth with opportunities through tech and digital literacy.
Lately, there’s been plenty of hubbub in the media about Ujiri leaving Toronto—like Kawhi Leonard before him—for opportunities in a bigger basketball market. But a candid conversation between Ujiri and Mayor Tory could quell the doubts of the Raptor faithful who fear the departure of their beloved president. “There’s a secret rule about being on the Toronto Life Most Influential list,” Tory told him. “It means you can’t ever leave Toronto.”
That got a big smile from Ujiri.
Here’s a closer look at what went down at the party
Masai Ujiri, president of the Toronto Raptors and numero uno on our list of influentials:
Here he is again with Toronto Life publisher Ken Hunt:
The mayor (No. 5) showed up:
And CBC’s Matt Galloway (No. 41) made an appearance, too:
Style icon Kirk Pickersgill was in attendance:
TIFF’s Cameron Bailey (No. 10), Masai Ujiri (No. 1) and Jagmeet Singh (No. 8) hung out:
Here’s actor Stephan James (No. 29):
And artist Andrea Bolley with social chronicler Shinan Govani:
And BMO’s chief information officer, Claudette McGowan (right, No. 34)
And Alison Gordon, CEO and director of 48North (No. 19):