Rind in the Marmalade
A Headhunter’s Tales
Lunch at the Coffee Mill, tucked away in Toronto’s Yorkville district, a perfect summer’s afternoon. On the patio, by the fountain with the sculpture of children, Tony was telling publisher John Parry about his life as a headhunter. People, places, events. Toronto in the ’70s, ’80s, today — 2010. Lively tales — insightful, poignant, funny, mostly very, very funny. John’s childhood had been rich with storytellers like Tony, who continued: Bay Street — A.E. Ames — setting up his own firm — the York Club — Fran’s Restaurant— Christ Church Deer Park — Moore Park.
Heading the Empire Club in the late ’80s, bringing in a speaker every week. Who, for example?, John asked. Audrey Hepburn, Tony said, clearly smitten, recounting the adventure of bringing her to Toronto. The master, spinning his tale, on the now almost-empty patio, on this perfect summer’s afternoon, and John listening, mesmerized. The Coffee Mill is gone now — closing in 2014, after 50 years of service — but we have a little memento of that laughter-filled lunch: Rind in the Marmalade.
Tony van Straubenzee worked in human resources on Toronto’s Bay Street, specializing in executive-level headhunting, while the high-rise canyon of today was taking form. Needing only two comfortable chairs, he has interviewed every personality type and witnessed the range of human behaviour, while filling hundreds of high-level positions for numerous clients. He has now confected Rind in the Marmalade: full of scrumptious, bite-sized tales — lively and colourful, a few heart-breaking, many screamingly funny — about the vast array of characters,both in and out of the limelight, whom he has met over the decades.
As president of the Empire Club and the York Club, he has hosted such luminaries as Ronald Reagan, Robertson Davies, and Christopher Plummer. As you’ll see, Tony is the consummate host and showman, an inspired fund-raiser, a budding impresario, and one of the best storytellers you’ll ever meet. Always ready with his wicked wit, eager to help, and on the lookout for more entertaining tales. Enjoy!
In 1988 the Empire Club of Canada chose Tony as president, a volunteer official who must find, invite, introduce, thank, and generally watch over an interesting speaker each week (about three dozen for the year). At a dinner to brainstorm names— people mentioned CEOs, cabinet ministers, pundits, presidents — Tony asked an old friend where his wife was. “Shopping in New York with Audrey Hepburn,” came the reply. That remark galvanized Tony. Thus began his adventure of bringing the luminous actress to Toronto, where she raised a small fortune for her beloved UNICEF and dazzled everyone she met — perhaps, most of all, Tony himself.
Brilliantly witty, deeply engaging, and full of memorable characters.
Cover + book design, typesetting, composition, photo retouching + editing
by Anne Vellone | www.vellonedesign.com
Cover illustration by Jean-François Martin
Publisher, copyediting + index by John Parry, www.wordsindeed.ca
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