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Above, sporting her own hand-knit toque and scarf, Chef Jenny Guillemette of Ackroyd’s Fish n’ Chips shows off The Balmy – halibut served with house tartar and coleslaw – on a day when the -17°C temperature was anything but. To take the edge off the frigid cold, Ackroyd’s served free lentil soup, salads, hot tea and bagels donated by nearby Bagels on Fire on Queen Street East.

As she bundled up to head back outside, customer Suzanne Laha said the hot food was welcome on such a cold day.

“I’ve been freezing in my attic. I had no power for two days, and it’s still freezing,” Laha said. “It’s nice to get away from everything and come here.

eob - bni leslieville group photo

The BNI Leslieville Group has officially launched another East End chapter of Business Networking International.

The BNI philosophy is growing business by building relationships and sending referrals to fellow group members. Though the chapter is named for – and meets in – Leslieville, there are a number of Beach-based members, including real estate agent Joe Cicciarella of Real Estate Homeward, Lee Welbanks of Welbanks Mortgage Group, photographer Michael Cooper, interior designer Judith Taylor and lawyer Julie DiGregorio of Snider and DiGregorio. Other professionals in the chapter include a computer technician, home organizer, web developer, financial planner, chiropractor, home inspector, insurance agent and more.

The BNI Leslieville chapter meets Wednesday mornings at 8:30 a.m. at Joy Bistro, 844 Queen St. E., one block west of Logan. Business owners interested in expanding their networks are welcome to join a weekly meeting to see if BNI is right for them. To contact the chapter, visit bnileslieville.bnisite.com.

Beach resident Rachelle Wintzen is opening Chi Junky in Leslieville, a wellness concierge and private yoga studio. The plan is to offer services from a variety of practitioners, to create custom health plans for each client.

“It’s quite a big team,” said Wintzen, noting that all of the dozen professionals currently on board are “all people I’ve worked with and trusted completely with my own health.” eob-Chi Junky 2

Wintzen worked as a professional dancer in New York City, but her career ended after an injury. She moved on to working in the club scene, but found herself slipping into an unhealthy lifestyle.

“It was a very, very toxic environment,” she said.

After taking a year dedicated to improving her health through yoga, fitness and nutrition, she went on to become a certified yoga instructor and holistic nutritionist. “I actually became addicted to living well.”

Chi Junky is targeted to busy people hoping to make healthy changes. Wintzen offers customized wellness plans, yoga with tea service, nutritional and naturopathic counselling, massage therapy, acupuncture, juice feasts, personal training, private chef services and more.

She said her goal with the studio is to “create a really amazing place for people to go, where they feel comfortable to make that next step to becoming healthier.”

Chi Junky is at 70 McGee St., just off Queen Street East between Logan and Broadview. Call 416-670-4403, email info@chijunky.com or visit chijunky.com for more information. The studio is set to open on Jan. 25.

Top Drawer Creative Inc. recently became the first full-service ad agency in the country to earn B Corp certification. There are less than 900 companies worldwide, and less than 100 in Canada, which have been certified for corporate social and environmental responsibility by the non-profit B Lab.

Top Drawer is powered by green energy, uses LED lighting and eco-friendly paper and cleaning products in the office and pays a subsidy to staff who choose to commute to work by bicycle. The agency also donates up to 10 per cent of its billable hours to social cause-based clients and donates to local charities, including a recent donation to Community Centre 55’s Share A Christmas program.

Ellen Godfrey, who opened Loving Nature Natural Foods 10 years ago at Kingston Road and Victoria Park Avenue, greets customers on Jan. 8 with a fresh pot of peppermint tea on the counter and a batch of favourite recipes behind it. PHOTO: Andrew Hudson

Ellen Godfrey, who opened Loving Nature Natural Foods 10 years ago at Kingston Road and Victoria Park Avenue, greets customers on Jan. 8 with a fresh pot of peppermint tea on the counter and a batch of favourite recipes behind it.
PHOTO: Andrew Hudson

Berry-fruit jellies may be the least healthy food in her natural foods shop, says Ellen Godfrey, laughing.

But 10 years since she opened her Loving Nature store at the corner of Kingston Road and Victoria Park Avenue, Godfrey said the jellies remain a bestseller – a holdover treat from the natural foods store that was on the corner before hers.

Godfrey got involved in natural foods in the late 1970s, when few such stores existed.

“I feel like a pioneer,” she says.

Over 30 years, Godfrey has worked on all sides of the business, not only in retail, but also with the distributors and wholesalers who now source the things on her shelves – bulk foods, natural health treatments, organic soaps, gluten-free everything and the offending fruit jellies.

“Really, I love taking people who are total novices and slowly helping them convert their diet to a more healthy one,” she said.

As customers walked in last week, Godfrey offered each a hot cup of peppermint tea. She keeps favourite recipes behind the counter, plus a how-to guide on sprouting your own grains.

Before striking out on her own, Godfrey spent eight years at The Big Carrot, a worker-run co-op on the Danforth. It was a real learning experience, she said.

While she missed a chance to see Madonna waltz in with her personal chef, she did get to serve as the Big Carrot’s treasurer, and join the boards of health-food distributors in Toronto.

In recent years, Godfrey has seen many mom-and-pops bought out by large corporations – a sometimes troubling change since the larger company may be involved in businesses that don’t meet with her ethics.

A long-time vegetarian, Godfrey is inspired by people like Frances Moore Lappé, author of Diet for a Small Planet. It was among the first popular books to look at the environmental cost of growing grain to feed animals for meat production.

Last year, Godfrey was struck by The Ghosts in Our Machine, a documentary film produced by her friend Nina Beveridge. Debuting at TIFF, it follows animal photographer Jo-Anne McArthur as she covers the mistreatment of animals in the food, fashion, entertainment and research industries.

Even as environmentally sustainable, ethical food has gone mainstream, Godfrey said it’s important to pick products wisely – this year’s coconut oils craze was a no-go years ago, when people were concerned by saturated fats.

Other things Godfrey that has sold for many years are just now taking off, like the black, white and red quinoa on her shelf – they make for tasty sprouts with bright colours, she said, if not the tempting red of a berry-fruit jelly.

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