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Eataly founder 'pays it forward'

Oscar Farinetti took the stage at a conference last week to illustrate his love for both Italy and Toronto


You could say Oscar Farinetti is something of an artist.

Sharpie in hand, the man who crafted the vision for high-end food boutique Eataly drew the outline of Italy on an easel pad on stage at IT@CA—a full-day conference in Toronto highlighting the cultural and commercial connections between Italy and Canada.

IT@CA was hosted by The Embassy of Italy to Canada, Consulate General of Italy in Toronto, Italian Trade Agency, Istituto Italiano di Culture, Italian National Tourist Board and Italian Chamber of Commerce Ontario, and featured speakers representing the arts, science and food industries.

READ: Eataly experience is a show with substance, exec says

Famously shaped like a boot, Italy is almost instantly recognizable, Farinetti reminded attendees, before sharing a few fun facts relating to the country's agriculture. Italy, he said, is home to more than 1,000 apple varieties and more than 1,200 grape varieties. It's a country with a vibrant food heritage, he explained.

Farinetti, who was in town ahead of Eataly Toronto's Nov. 13 opening, sang the praises of his mother country throughout the 15-minute presentation. "If you are lucky to be born in a fantastic country, you pay it forward," he said. And that's exactly what Farinetti has been doing through his Eataly Italian retail and dining experience.

Farinetti opened the first Eataly in Torino, Italy in 2007 and now there are more than 40 locations around the world, including stores in New York City, Stockholm, Paris and Munich. And, in a matter of weeks, Toronto will be home to a 50,000-sq.-ft. store in the city's newly renovated Manulife Centre at the corner of Bay and Bloor.

READ: Eataly Toronto announces opening date

Farinetti is taken by Toronto's ethnic diversity; it's one of the reasons Eataly decided to invest in the city, he said. "When I walk in this city I hear many different languages, see many different colours," said Farinetti. "The future is integration." To demonstrate this point, Farinetti said the Toronto store would feature an art installation representing a range of ethnicities but "one human race."






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