I'm standing in the doorway with Drake, of all people.
It's about 2am on a Saturday night and I have been up for almost 24 hours in a cooking competition that ended up with me on stage, cooking in front of about 500 people. Despite being in a cocktail dress, I was wearing my chef coat until just a few moments ago, forgetting I still had it on. That was just moments before I found myself telling Drake to have a good night. Like he was someone I'd known for years, or a co-worker I was exchanging pleasantries with.
I'm at One Restaurant and in the matter of an hour, I have had a few bourbon sours (one of the best in the city, by the way), giggled with Drake, talked at length with his bodyguard - a gem of a man - Spoon, sat with Guy Fieri for a moment, and danced like a teenager until being poured into a cab.
This is not how I roll. I write and work most nights. I pay my bills on time and am extremely polite.
Please don’t missunderstand – I’m not saying One is party-central where things get crazy. This was one night, after all. But something happens when stars are around. It makes us go a little crazy. That same night, I'd just missed Justin Bieber and his crew leaving for the airport. Can you imagine that mayhem?
These are not every day occurrences for us here in Toronto. We are not L.A., completely immersed in celebs.
Fast forward to a year later and present day. I am back at One, this time for dinner on the patio. I haven’t had a stitch of alcohol and I slept for almost 7 hours last night. I am at the top of my game.
Just after being seated, I head to the lobby to take a phone call. There is a sense that something big just happened. Oh, no biggie. Just one of the world’s most popular bands, One Direction, checked out.
Being located in Yorkville, on a wide corner with a deep patio lined with trees and candlelight, One is a fantastic people-watching spot, celebs or not. And of course, celebrity chef Mark McEwan’s menu filled with decadent selections (lobster spoons, 34 oz. Tomahawk chop, seared foie gras), classics (seafood cocktail, Bucatini Amatriciana, 8 oz. USDA Prime burger), and fun twists (butter chicken tacos, buffalo sweetbreads, truffled forked potato) is a draw for both the upper echelon as well as us regular folk.
Back at my table, I notice a famous politician is seated behind me, and an even more prominent leader, on my right. People start to look, whisper and discreetly take out their phones. We Canadians politely look, but rarely approach. These are our kind of celebrities. Not world-famous stars. Like LeBron James, who by the way, was here a few nights ago.
This is not during a big event like TIFF. I am here on a Tuesday night, perhaps the least exciting, least sexy night of the week. And there are famous faces everywhere.
I used to interview celebrities and big-name musicians regularly for magazines, so I would have described myself as being above it all. But when you are standing this close to Drake and he smiles at you, all sense of decorum slips away.
Maybe we are as star-struck as the rest of the world, just quieter about it.