Best of the City 2010: tailors, exterminators and 13 other top helpers
The BBQ Guys
There are few summer chores more unpleasant than cleaning the ’cue. Outsourcing is the answer, and the BBQ Guys have spent the past 13 years perfecting their scrubbing skills. They’ll travel to any home or cottage in Ontario and restore any kind of grill (from hibachis to SUV-sized models) to near-factory condition. All models are taken apart and checked for safety, and they promise to remove 90 to 95 per cent of the grease and carbon. Cleaning from $139 to $329.
Giovanni of Italy
106 Scollard St., 416-967-6695
The impish Giovanni Bucci (John to friends and good customers) has worked in Yorkville for 33 years, creating, altering and remodelling men’s and women’s clothing with old-world patience and precision. Bucci and his team of 10 seamstresses specialize in made-to-measure shirts (from $195) and suits (from $1,800), as well as custom dresses and more difficult repairs. Celebs of a certain vintage—Rod Stewart, Alan Arkin, Liza—have been customers, but Bucci says he rarely realizes when a boldface steps into the modest shop. “All my clients are famous to me,” he says with a laugh.
267 Augusta Ave., 416-593-4663
Surrender that Slap Chop! Knife skills are the bedrock of any true chef’s technique. In Olivia Go’s intimate class (two and a half hours long, only six students), held at the back of this stylish Kensington culinary shop, students learn sharpening methods, when to use which type of knife and, of course, how to slice, dice, julienne and chiffonade. The vivacious Go definitely has the chops—she’s toiled in kitchens from Momofuku to C5—and currently works as part of the production team at Top Chef Canada. Note: you’ll only be cutting produce and herbs (local and organic when possible, and provided, along with the utensils); a special class on meat may be offered in the future. And bring your Tupperware—everything you cut up, you can take home. $75 per class.
Aetna Pest Control
1828 Danforth Ave., 416-469-4111
You never really get rid of termites, they say, you just move them around. Aetna has battled the bugs since 1974, and while the company says the problem has grown worse in Toronto—the east end remains notoriously bad, and even the Annex is not immune—they’re very good at keeping the critters out of clients’ homes with a termiticide called Dragnet. It creates a chemical barrier around your foundation and comes with a one-year guarantee. Treatments $2,200 to $7,000.
This Junction-based company provides guidance in creating and maintaining organic, ecologically sound yards. Most of their work consists of low-maintenance and native plants, but edibles are increasingly popular. You can get your hands dirty, too; proprietor Andrew Roy has a 10-person staff, but many of his clients choose to pitch in. Make-overs from $800, including plants.
69 Vintage Collective
1207 Bloor St. W., 416-516-1234
Julia Roberts recently told Oprah that she makes her family’s clothes, proving that this year, sewing is officially the new knitting. The place to learn basic techniques is the Make Den, the studio space of second-hand goldmine 69 Vintage. The DIY sewing program is run by Irene Stickney, a Ryerson fashion grad. Small-sized, five-week Sunday classes ($220) serve beginners and teach how to execute patterns and use a sewing machine like a pro. Occasional courses include a Lady Gaga–inspired workshop that teaches participants how to fashion a pointy-shouldered getup.
Jump Start Dog Training
Behind every properly trained pooch is a properly trained owner. For the past 20 years, Cheryl Bell has provided both with private lessons in good behaviour, trust and mutual respect. Positive reinforcement is the overarching principle. Off-leash techniques are offered for hounds who can handle the challenge. Six to eight one-hour lessons ($70 per) are generally recommended, and Bell will travel anywhere in the 416.
Great Metropolitan Sound
120 Eglinton Ave. E., 416-484-0800
Once a Jetsons-style fantasy, completely programmable control of your home’s entire lighting, climate and entertainment systems is increasingly a de rigueur part of any reno. GMS’s ultra-sophisticated automation installations—which use custom-designed wiring-and-timer arrays—are at the upper end of the spectrum, popular all over the Bridle Path and Rosedale. Lock up and leave, and the system will ensure that would-be burglars think you’re still home: blinds will open and close, lights will activate randomly, TVs and stereos switch on and off. Systems start at $25,000.
Bouncy Castle Rental
Fiesta 4 Kids
Inflatables are now nearly as standard at kids’ birthdays as cake. (They’re a great way to tire the little monsters out.) Fiesta 4 Kids rents 43 models, ranging from the Cool Girls Bouncer to the elaborate Robot Bouncer. Basic models can be augmented with inflatable slides, obstacles and educational games. The company will deliver and set up all over southern Ontario. From $100 to $650 a day.
This past spring’s hyper real estate market was a busy time for expert fluffer Anne Bourne. Her work is currently split evenly between condos and houses, and she knows what buyers are looking for (silver and glass in waterfront condos, cozy, more “transitional” furniture for High Park mansions). Consultations are $200; furnished home staging starts at $600.
Temporary Personal Assistant
Absolutely Fab Services
“I love to have a clean house, and I clean as if I’m cleaning my own house,” insists Robert McDonald, a PA who will also walk your dog, water your plants, do your shopping and even make lemon squares, as he does for a beloved 90-year-old Forest Hill client. McDonald has been at it for three years, and he renders his services from Markham to Mississauga. Prices are surprisingly reasonable ($25 an hour for cleaning, $20 a day for house-sitting), and hours are flexible. They need to be; one of McDonald’s strangest jobs was a regular wake-up call for a client’s son.
Spike on the Water
The ebullient Shane Desloges no longer has the distinctive, tusk-like hairdo that earned him the nickname Spike, but he’s still always on the water. Captaining a crew of nine, Desloges provides any make of boat with full stem-to-stern cleaning, both inside and out, including polishing and engine room degreasing. Most services are based on the length of the watercraft, with a basic deck cleaning costing not much more than a cup of coffee per foot, and an algae and barnacle-removing hydrochloric acid wash $18.50 per foot.
Palm Tree Pools
Saltwater pools have made a splash in our sweltering city. And no wonder: they’re better for your eyes and skin, require less maintenance, and converting your pool from chemical chlorine to saltwater-based chlorine takes only about two hours (at a cost of roughly $1,800). The pro pool boys of PTP also do cleaning, opening and closing, and liner replacement. The company typically serves only the west end (all those ginormous pools in Oakville take time).
The father-and-son team of Terry and Bill Eggonidis meticulously revive the bricks on roughly 150 buildings a year. They specialize in older homes and recently restored the historic Greenwood mansion of John Price, the manufacturer responsible for most of the bricks used to build Toronto’s early-20th-century homes. The Eggonidises remove caked-on grime, strip paint, replace mortar and use reclaimed bricks to match the existing ones. Full cleaning and restoration starts at $2,000.
224 Wallace Ave., Ste. 110, 416‑913‑7590
Mitch Robertson operates a studio with a full-time staff of four, but his specialty is house calls: he’ll travel anywhere in the GTA for a free consultation (the finished product is also delivered gratis). Robertson’s specialty is hand-sanded, custom-milled frames. White frames are popular right now, but unlike the ’80s versions, these are thin, with hard-edge corners. “Our frames are beautiful,” Robertson says, “but they should be almost invisible, to showcase the art.” Prices are reasonable and, for some of his bohemian clients, flexible.