A Q&A with TL Insider Ben Uppal on what membership means to him
Toronto Life Insider is a membership club that connects you to the city. With your membership, you get an upgraded subscription to Toronto Life and FASHION magazine, invitations to workshops and one-of-a-kind cooking and cocktail masterclasses with Toronto’s most interesting characters, exclusive access to weekly giveaways and promotions from top brands—and more.
We caught up with Ben Uppal, director of business development at Fox Contracting, about his experience with the membership and where it fits into his life now, amid a pandemic.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your relationship with the city.
Before settling in the GTA, I was living in Montreal and truly drinking the kool-aid, so to speak. I bought into the idea that Toronto was on the losing end of the east-coast city rivalry. It wasn’t until I moved here after marrying my wife in 2003 that I realized just how much this city has to offer. Entertainment, style, and of course the people are such big parts of why I love it. The city is also an important part of my professional life. I’m currently the director of business development and marketing at Fox Contracting – a general contractor working on commercial & residential renovation and construction projects. While I reside in Milton, my work often brings me in and around the downtown Toronto core.
What prompted you to join TL Insider?
I had been an avid reader of Toronto Life after moving from Montreal. I was especially drawn to coverage of the restaurant scene, but also the articles focused on things that were important to residents here—it was a useful introduction as a newcomer. When the opportunity of membership came along, I was thrilled. From a business perspective, I’ve enjoyed it as an opportunity to continuously discover and rediscover the city, to network, and to experience different areas and communities I don’t usually interact with. My job has introduced me to so much of Toronto, and TL Insider has been a really fun extension of that.
How has your membership fit into life amid the pandemic?
The digital shift has definitely been a challenge, but in some ways, I don’t miss in-person socializing too much. With so much happening remotely now, it’s almost become easier to socialize, without the commuting and late nights. TL Insider has held a special place in this shift, however. I’ve attended a lot of the virtual events, most recently the Future of Yonge Street talk with Mark Garner. I love learning about the city, so this was an especially fascinating one. It’s been an outlet to stay connected and engage, which I think we can all agree is very important during this time.
Who do you normally attend events with, and has this changed since the pivot online?
In the past, my wife and I would attend events together. One of our favourites, a couple of years back, was the Toronto Life x FASHION Best Dressed Party. It was interesting to connect with members we had met at other events in such a unique space.
Remotely, I’ve attended most of the virtual events myself, especially the speaking engagements and Fireside Chats. They’re easy to add into my calendar without too much planning ahead. When there’s an opportunity to participate, I find that this works well because I normally try to connect with others and network a bit at those events.
Favourite virtual event so far?
One of the earlier online events with Pilot Coffee Roasters was really cool. It was with a barista, Nat Fried, who demonstrated for members the entirety of the brewing method. It was a fun event that I might not have sought out myself but was really happy to come across.
What would you like to see more of this spring and summer?
I’ve always been a big sports guy, so I’m really excited about events pertaining to that. I would love to see another VIP Movie Night this summer as well, similar to last years Pulp Fiction screening with catering by elle cuisine. My wife and I are avid movie-goers, so this type of outdoor event that prioritizes social distancing is a great way for us to keep up with that right now.
Experience TL Insider for the special rate of $75 (reg price $95). Sign up here.