Monthly Archives: August 2022


The cardinal swooped down from the adjacent feeder “hook”, made a quick study of peanut supply in the feeder (left photo), jumped aboard (top right) and snatched one, and flew off in a flash (bottom right), look close and you will see the blur./Grand theft peanut was completed in about a minute. Photos by Joe Barkovich.

At The Concert: West Side Story

Friday evening’s was the finale in the Concerts on the Canal series organized by Downtown Welland BIA. It featured headline act Pink Floyd Niagara who, as always, delighted the big crowd of concert-goers on both the east and west sides of the recreational waterway, and the opener, Niagara-based Riders On The Storm, a tribute act celebrating The Doors. Also witnessing the event was a fleet of watercraft: paddleboards, kayaks and canoes in the main, their mariners enjoying up close and personal views of the popular venue from the waterway while ‘parked’ near the floating stage or as their craft drifted past. Sounds and sights helped make for a beautiful and delightful evening, but one that was bittersweet because it marked the last of the concerts and a reminder, painful for some, that summer is drawing to a close./Photos by Joe Barkovich.

Niagara College Alum Vies To Become Canada’s Top Chef

Vish Mayekar will be a chef contestant on Season 10 of Top Chef Canada. The Niagara College Culinary Management alumnus (2014) is a member of Culinary Team Canada, and head chef at Pepino’s Spaghetti House and wine bar Caffe La Tana in Vancouver.

Top Chef Canada is ready to turn up the heat for its upcoming 10th season, and a Niagara College alumnus is fired up to compete in this popular reality television series considered one of the most prestigious culinary competitions in Canada.

Vaishnav (‘Vish’) Mayekar, who graduated from NC’s Culinary Management (Co-op) program in 2014, has been selected to compete in the upcoming season of the esteemed culinary competition to debut on Food Network Canada in September, dubbed Top Chef Canada X.  He is on the roster of 11 talented chefs from across the country who will be vying for the coveted title of Canada’s Top Chef.

Top Chef Canada‘s goal is to shine a light on the country’s best and brightest culinary stars, with this season’s cast of chefs truly representing the culturally rich fabric of Canada’s food scene,” said Eric Abboud, Executive Producer and Showrunner, Insight Productions. “Vish is one of best chefs in Vancouver and we are thrilled to cast him on the series as he is wildly competitive and passionate about sharing his food story.”

For each season of Top Chef Canada, Insight Productions and Food Network Canada search for a group of passionate professional chefs to showcase a variety of cuisines and share their love of food with the network’s audience. Interested chefs from across the country apply through the Top Chef Canada casting site. Selected applicants go through a more formal audition and casting process, and the chefs who make it to the show are chosen by Insight Production’s casting team and representatives from Food Network Canada.

Mayekar has been following the show since its first season and, with his longtime passion for competition, he knew that he wanted to be a part of it.

“It’s an absolute honour. You know it’s not something everyone gets to do or is able to do so being selected to compete in one of the most prestigious competitions in Canada feels amazing,” said Mayekar. “I’m stoked and, personally, I’ve wanted to do this for a few years now, but it’s come at the right time, and I can’t wait for everyone to watch me compete.”

Vish Mayekar, fourth from left, is ready to compete against chefs from across the country on Top Chef Canada. Photo credits: Mike Ford/ Food Network Canada

As a professional chef, Mayekar is known for his unique ingredient combinations and love for infusing flavours and spices from his Indian heritage. Trained and well-versed in Italian cuisine, he is currently Head Chef at Pepino’s Spaghetti House and wine bar Caffe La Tana in Vancouver, B.C. He also cooks for some of Hollywood’s biggest stars every year at the Cannes Film Festival, where he is the Head Chef at the American Pavilion.

A member of Culinary Team Canada, Mayekar is also preparing to represent Canada on the world stage in 2024 at the IKA Culinary Olympics.

He has a lot on his plate, balancing his career with Team Canada and Top Chef competitions, but Mayekar believes “where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

“I just like staying busy, always being involved in things and always trying to be a better cook and a better person each day,” he said.

Mayekar grew up in Mumbai, India and fell in love with food at an early age. His passion for the culinary arts led him to enrol at NC where he made his mark not only at culinary events and competitions, but on the board of directors for the NC Student Administrative Council and as a volunteer with the international department and won the prestigious Ontario Youth Award in 2014.

“Niagara College has truly been the foundation of a lot of my accomplishments in Canada,” said Mayekar. “I met the most amazing chefs and mentors at Niagara College, and some lifelong friends that I share my culinary journey with.”

News about Mayekar’s selection as a chef contestant Top Chef Canada X is stirring up excitement throughout the College and its School of Culinary Arts.

“The ultimate satisfaction that an educator can have, is hearing about the success of their graduates. At Niagara College, we strive to set our alumni on the right path with a relevant set of tools but, ultimately, it’s their own hard work and determination that breeds success,” said Craig Youdale, Dean, Culinary, Tourism and Beverage Studies.

“Our entire team is very proud of Vish, and we will look forward to cheering him on both on the set of Top Chef Canada, as well as his life’s journey.”

The announcement of Mayekar’s selection for Season 10, comes just months after NC alumna Erica Karbelnik (nee Hakien) was declared the winner of Season 9 of Top Chef Canada, while her husband Josh Karbelnik also cooked his way to the top four. The Karbelniks both graduated from NC’s Culinary Management Co-op program in 2011 and were the first married couple to compete on the show.

Top Chef Canada X will air on September 26 on Food Network Canada and will be available to stream through STACKTV. In addition to the title of Canada’s Top Chef, the winner will earn the largest reward in Top Chef Canada history: a cash prize of $100,000 provided by Royale Tiger Towel, a luxury Lexus NX, brand-new kitchen outfitted by KitchenAid, an exclusive farm-to-table adventure courtesy of Glad, and a $10,000 cash prize from DoorDash. For information about Top Chef Canada visit

Attribution: Niagara College news release.

Gadabout Gardener

Garden musings: A little bit of this, a little bit of that./ Photos by Joe Barkovich

(Gadabout Gardener is a recurring feature on the blog, with a focus on randomly selected or recommended garden spaces in the city. Do any sights or sites come to mind as photo suggestions? Contact Gadabout Gardener at:

Rockin’ The Rose City

This Friday’s Concert on the Canal brings two great bands to the Rose City, the headliner Pink Floyd Niagara and the opening act Riders On The Storm. Pink Floyd Niagara has been here for the canal concert series before and needs no introduction to local concert-goers. Riders On The Storm is a Niagara-based tribute band to The Doors. The above photos are from their performance at Sherkstock, Sherkston Shores on Saturday, July 30 where they brought fans to their feet a number of times and ended the night with a rousing encore, much to the delight of the audience. As for Friday, what a great concert with which to end this season’s canal-side shows. Rock on, Welland! /Photos by Joe Barkovich.

Tribute: Vance Millar, Stellar Hockey Player


    The Niagara sports community has lost another member

     Vance Millar, a well-known and talented hockey player, died August 5. He was no stranger in Niagara’s arenas back in the 1950s, the 60s and the 70s. He played three seasons (1955-56 to 1957-58) with the Stamford Kerrios of the Niagara District Senior B Hockey League. He also spent three seasons in Welland. Mr. Millar played for the Intermediate A teams when they were known as the Merchants in 1962-63 and again in 1973-74 seasons. He was also a member of the Welland Burloaks in 1963-64 when they were a Senior B entry.

    Mr. Millar was captain of the Merchants team in 1962-63 when they captured the John Ross Robertson Trophy, emblematic of the OHA Intermediate A championship. It marked the first ever OHA title won by a Welland team and nearly six decades later still remains the only Welland team to win an OHA championship.

    It was April 24, 1963 at the Welland Arena when the Merchants put the finishing touches to their first-ever championship disposing of the Bradford Expressmen 8-1 in game five of the provincial final. He had a large helping hand in clinching the victory by scoring twice.

  Mr. Millar would play on two more championship squads playing with the Galt Hornets of the Senior A ranks. In fact Galt not only won the provincial title twice (1968-69 and 1970-71) but added the Allan Cup each time making them Canadian champions. Mr. Millar was captain of the 1970-71 squad. With winning the Canadian title twice he and his teammates also got the opportunity to represent Canada at international tournaments.

  In all, he spent seven seasons with the Hornets. He also played one season (1966-67) with the Woodstock Athletics.

   Mr. Millar was a solid two-way player and gave 100 percent every time he stepped on the ice. As it said in his obituary, “Vance made friends everywhere he played, many of these were as strong in the end as they were the day he made them. His hockey family was vast and cherished.”

 To his family and friends, I express my condolences.

(Wayne Redshaw has covered sports in Niagara for over 50 years, 33 and a half at the Welland Tribune. He was publisher of the FORE! Golfers Only for 12 years and also wrote for many national newspapers and magazines in Canada and the United States. He can be reached at