Ben Mulroney

Toronto through the eyes of Ben Mulroney

Ben Mulroney is no stranger. Once known chiefly as the second son of the 18th Prime Minister of Canada, he's been introduced to a whole new generation as co-host of etalk where he dishes on the latest celeb gossip and interviews the likes of Jolie and Pitt at the Academy Awards. He was also host of the short-lived Canadian Idol. Now, he's a got a new gig as National Ambassador to WaterCan, a Canadian not-for-profit which brings sustainable fresh water and sanitation solutions to African communities.

This past week, Mulroney was at the Spoke Club to kick-off WaterCan's latest campaign, the Kilimanjaro Climb for Life. In support of the campaign, Mulroney is scheduled to lead the climb up the slopes of Kilimanjaro next October. Here we talk to him about training for the climb, where he likes to shop for clothes and one of Toronto's favourite pastimes: brunch.

What can you tell us about your involvement with WaterCan.

I hope to use my profile to raise awareness for WaterCan and the good work done around the world. I was drawn to the organization because of the simplicity and necessity of its message and goals. I will do whatever I can, whenever WaterCan asks.

What are you doing to prepare yourself for the climb up Kilimanjaro?

I'm not sure how I will prepare. I hope that we will be able to document my training on CTV or Discovery. I have never climbed anything more substantial than a few flights of stairs.

What do you do to keep fit in Toronto?

I belong to Extreme Fitness and I go as much as I can. When I am diligent, that means five or six times a week. I start with cardio (3-5miles), and then weights and stretching - pretty basic stuff.

You spent many years in Ottawa. If there anything that city has that you miss and can't get/find in Toronto?

Zack's diner has the best fries and shakes, but beyond that I've got to say I'm pretty happy to live far, far away from Parliament Hill.

What are your favourite neighbourhoods to hang out in Toronto?

Yorkville, because when my parents come to town, they stay at the Four Seasons, and Jessica (my wife) and I take our boys to brunch at the restaurant upstairs. And Queen West because that is where I work, and until 2 years ago, I called it home.

I love checking out the homes in the Annex. And although it's not a neighbourhood, Yorkdale Mall, because it's about to get very cold, and it's a fun place to take the kids for a few hours on a Sunday. Also, they have a Rainforest Cafe.

Aside from Rainforest Cafe, what are your top three restaurants for dinner?

I have many more than three, but if I have to narrow it down: (1) Blowfish for having the best combination of sushi, pan-asian food, drinks and vibe. (2) Buca for being the prettiest restaurant in town. And they cure their own meat! (3) A tie between Jacob and Co steakhouse and Coquine. Terrific service, friendly people. We are always treated well and the food is delicious.

What's your favourite brunch spot?

The restaurant at the Four Seasons. They don't mind when we bring two 15-month-old babies in, and everything on the menu is fantastic. It costs more than some other places, but when you sit down, you can really relax.

What would be your top choice for a business lunch?

I'd have to say any of Mark McEwan's restaurants: ONE, Bymark...The atmosphere is always conducive to good conversation and the menus are right up my alley.

As a television host, you always need to look sharp. Men's fashion retail in Toronto is often maligned. What's your take on it?

I disagree. I think anything you want can be found in Toronto. Gotstyle, Holt's, Harry Rosen are just the tip of the iceberg - take a stroll down Queen West and you'll find every possible label for every possible taste.

What are your 3 favourite menswear stores in the city?

Just named them, although, I listen a lot to NewsTalk 1010, and I hear ads for Tom's Place, and Korry's Clothiers all the time, so I'd like to check them out. And The Bay has improved leaps and bounds under Bonnie Brooks. If you haven't been in a while, now is the time.

Photo by Morris Lum

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