An insider's guide to Toronto with Evanka Osmak
You'd never know watching Evanka Osmak on Sportsnet that she was once on track to making her living as a civil engineer. But she's been an anchor for Sportsnet since 2007 and t's hard to imagine her doing anything else. Her passion and knowledge continually shine through and it's clear this is what she was fated for.
Covering sports, however, isn't just a profession to Osmak. She lives and breathes it on and off the air. She lives a healthy, athletic life herself (running, spinning, hiking) and regularly attends sports events - Jays, Leafs, Rogers Cup - all over Toronto. It's a city, she very obviously loves deeply and is all too eager to talk about.
I sat down with Osmak to discuss her favorite sport and non-sport places in Toronto, where she enjoys going for a healthy meal, and what beautiful building can still bring out the civil engineer in her.
Where would you take someone aspiring to work in media?
I would start off the morning with a Leafs practice at the MasterCard Arena because it is a circus with the media. We'd probably go from Leafs practice to City Hall. I've never covered politics or City Hall, but I imagine that would be more of the same media circus. Then finish off with a visit to the Rogers Building at 1 Mount Pleasant and Bloor because there's so much going on in the two buildings. There's Sportsnet there, and the TV station, and all the radio station - all things media.
What are your favourite spots to go near the Sportsnet studio?
I work evenings, so sometimes the only thing on my mind is getting home to bed. I'm getting old. [But] Spirits is the go-to if we finish up early enough.
If you wanted to show someone what makes Toronto a great sports town without taking them to a stadium, where would you go?
An AHL game. Can't afford to get into NHL? Go to the AHL or a Junior game, because they're always really entertaining and half the price.
I've read that you like to eat healthy. What are some of your go-to spots for your healthy food fix?
The city has a lot of unique sport options ranging from dodgeball to axe throwing. Are there any you have tried and loved?
I played dodgeball with Toronto Sport and Social Club, but had to retire after one season. I kept getting whacked in the face and my makeup artist didn't think she could cover up all the bruises. I tried a dance class at Madonna's gym, Hard Candy. I love to dance. Unfortunately I'm not very coordinated and can't strike a pose too well. It was a lot of fun, but I don't think Madonna is going to be calling for me to be her back-up dancer anytime soon.
What area of Toronto do you call home, and what do you like around there?
I'm at Yonge and Eglinton [and] one of our favorite restaurants is Coquine. It's also a great place to just grab a wine or beer. They always have games on at the bar.
Also, The Fish Street Market. It's a lovely husband and wife team that sell delicious and fresh seafood. The fish tacos are excellent and the opposite of wimpy.
You've expressed being a fan of home design and furniture. Are there stores that you love to visit to get ideas or your furniture?
What are Toronto spots that you absolutely couldn't live without?
I love The Toronto Islands. We're members at RCYC. We go over there quite a bit in the summer. The ferry ride gives a spectacular view of the city - especially at night. Besides the ferry, the best spot is sitting at the corner table on the lower patio of the RCYC clubhouse. One side you can see the lawn bowlers, tennis courts and pool, and then the other side is the water and cityscape. Beautiful. And the best part is I can still hear the horn when the Blue Jays hit a home run! Best of both worlds.
I like strolling Bloor Street [between University and Yonge] a lot, even if I'm just window-shopping. I love seeing all the clothes. It's really upped its game in the last couple of years.
What clothing stores along that stretch do you love?
I work with a clothing consultant and ... one of the places we always hit up is Holt Renfrew. It's one-stop shopping.
You were a civil engineer before becoming a sportscaster. Are there any buildings that speak to that part of you?
The Royal Conservatory of Music. I think it's one of the most beautiful buildings. I got married there, so that's another reason why I hold the place in high regard. I [also] love the fact that the architect behind the new addition is a woman.
Museum or Gallery: I'm going to say - and I hope you accept - the Hockey Hall of Fame
Restaurant to take someone from out of town: Terroni at Summerhill. Especially in the summer with the patio. You always know it's going to be lively, there's great ambiance, consistent food, [it's] not too expensive. It's just a fun place.
Dessert: Bang Bang Ice Cream on Ossington. I'm a cookie lover so this place hits the spot especially with the healthy dose of ice cream sandwiched in between.
Place to workout in the winter: Since I hate running on the treadmill, Quad spinning is the place to head in the winter for a great workout. The music is uplifting, the instructors are demanding, but kind and I love the theme classes.
Bookstore: Indigo right at the corner [of Yonge and Eglinton]. I tend to go a lot there and just read my magazines.
Live Music venue: Hard to beat a summer night concert at the Molson Amphitheatre. Last concert I saw there was Tim McGraw. Love my country music.
Secret Toronto place: The paths and trails: Sherwood Park, Sunnybrook, David a Balfour, Beltline, Brickworks, [are] great trails for walking and hiking. The David A. Balfour trail is my go-to. It's easily accessible from the city, but once you're on it you feel like you've escaped to the forest. The hills are killer, so even if I'm walking it still feels like a good workout.
Previously: An insider's guide to Toronto with Rick Mercer
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