Born in 1924 in the Italian village of Bellantone Calabria, Giovanni ‘John’ Arena has passed away in Toronto, his home since arriving in 1956.
If only walls could talk… From movie stars to royalty to business titans in the 70s and 80s, Winston’s was the place to be and be seen in North America. Behind this great restaurant was the much-respected John Arena.
Arena, Toronto’s restaurant industry legend who has fed prime ministers, princesses, international celebrities, and even a Pope, ran nine restaurants in his long career. The restaurant he is best known for is the now-closed Winston’s in the Financial District, where he catered to the rich and powerful during his ownership from 1966 to 1990. In 1987, John almost ‘single-handedly’ raised over 10 million dollars for the George Brown College culinary program.
Just months ago, between pandemic shutdowns and reopenings, John visited food and lifestyle celebrity David Rocco in his Toronto home for a rare (and John’s last) extended TV interview as part of the new ‘David Rocco’s Dolce Homemade’ 26-part series which premieres on VIVA Streaming TV starting Feb 18th, and this fall on TLN TV. In this 30-minute special, Arena shares his love of the hospitality business, stories of the incredible parade of powerful and famous guests he hosted, and even cooks with and shares some special dishes with David.
We have lost yet another great Italian Canadian city builder. May John rest in peace with the many other Italo-Canadian men and women who struggled and persevered over the past century to make Toronto the world-class city it became.
A not to be missed special tribute presentation to John Arena – Saturday, February 18th at 8P/et – only on TLN TV.
Catch the entire 26-episode Dolce Homemade Series on TLN TV– Coming This Fall.