Media, Darling: Jeremy Freed

Jeremy Freed is the Editor of Sharp Magazine and has been there since the start. The descendant of a long line of nomads, he grew up in Toronto, Dallas, Los Angeles and rural Quebec, before settling a few blocks from his first childhood home. Before joining Sharp in 2008, Jeremy contributed to Toronto Life, BlogTO, Los Angeles Magazine and National Public Radio. He’s pretty sure he has one of the best jobs there is.
Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?
Theatre was my first career path. I acted all through school and received my BA in theatre from Bishops University.

Where would you like to be five years from now?
With friends. Laughing.

Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
As was told to me by a writer I admire: “Just say yes.” And be persistent.

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
Esquire, GQ, The New Yorker, The Daily Show, The Grid, Fresh Air.

Best interview you’ve ever had? Worst?

Best: David Sedaris – one of the warmest people I’ve ever met. 

Worst: William Shatner. We got off to a bad start and things went downhill from there. Apparently he takes his spoken-word stuff very seriously.

Best advice you’ve ever been given?
See above.

What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Don’t be a jerk.

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Be honest.

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
It’s always nice to deal with people who are confident enough in the appeal of their products – and their suitability for my magazine – to not have to be pushy.

I hate?
Baggy suits. Insincerity. Sprawl.

I love?


Frequently, but not enough.

Best place on earth?
Anywhere remote with trees, water and stars. And Paris, of course.

Dinner guest?
Werner Herzog.

David Sedaris.

Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?

Pool or ocean?
Saltwater pool.

Voicemail or email?


Yum Yum: Gwyneth Paltrow’s "My Father’s Daughter"

We’re always on the lookout for cookbooks that offer healthy fare that don’t skimp on flavour – not always an easy task. When we heard Gwyneth Paltrow was releasing a cookbook we were a bit skeptical. Actors aren’t necessarily known for their chops in the kitchen, after all.

After hearing some great buzz about GOOPy’s book, we decided to give it a whirl and oh boy – are we glad we did. Recipes run the culinary gamut, from salad dressings to fried oyster po’boys to vegetarian paellas, and most have a “make vegetarian/vegan” suggestion. If you’re looking for red meat or pork, you’re in the wrong book. If you’re a seafood or poultry lover then we highly suggest picking My Father’s Daughter up.  

Here are two of the recipes we tried the other night. Gwyneth suggested serving these together, so we did. Enjoy.

Best Stir-Fried Chicken
serves four

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into small cubes
2 tbsp cornstarch
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup peeled and minced garlic
1/4 cup peeled and minced ginger
1/2 cup minced green scallions (white & green parts)
Pinch red chili flakes (optional)
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Toss the chicken with cornstarch, a large pinch of salt and quite a bit of pepper.  

Heat oil in large, non-stick wok over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, scallions and chile flakes (if using) and cook, stirring, for one minute.  

Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes. 

Add the vinegar, sugar, and five or six grinds of black pepper. 

Boil on high for three minutes, or until the sugar has caramelized and the whole mixture is dark brown and sticky and lovely. 

Add the soy sauce, and cook for another 30 seconds. Serve immediately over fried rice (recipe below), sprinkled with cilantro. 

Photo via GOOP herself.

Fried Rice with Kale and Scallions
serves four

1/2 pound kale, stems discarded
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
3 large scallions, cut into 1/8-inch diagonal slices
2 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp soy sauce

Cut the kale leaves in half lengthwise and then cut crosswise into very thin ribbons (chiffonade). Steam the kale for 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. 

Add the garlic and cook for two minutes, stirring constantly, being careful not to brown the garlic. 

Raise the heat to medium and add the steamed kale and scallions. 

Cook for two minutes and then add the rice and cook for another two minutes, stirring. 

Add the soy sauce and cook for 30 seconds more.

Health in a bowl.
Photo via Milk & Mode

Rant and Rave: Wedding gift etiquette

Summer months signal longer days, sangria on the patio, cute sundresses and weddings. It seems that each time we check our mail box a new wedding invite arrives. With each new invitation we wonder, “what is proper gifting etiquette and how much should we spend?”
Weddings can be pricey for everyone involved – including guests. Image source
Gifting amounts can be tricky and you can’t exactly ask the bride-to-be what gift value isn’t going to make her tell the tale of the cheap guest for years to come. Here are some tips for you to follow to get you through wedding season without sign of the fail whale. 
If you’re attending an out of town wedding:
Your best friend is getting married…in Jamaica. Often when guests are asked to travel long distances, their presence is requested in lieu of gifts. That being said, we recommend giving a more modest gift off the registry or a cash gift totaling $50 -100 a head (depending on what you can afford). 
 Destination weddings are beautiful, but are a big ask for guests. Image source.
If you’re a bridesmaid in the wedding:
Being in the wedding party is a huge honor, but also a larger financial responsibility. In addition to purchasing your bridesmaid dress, throwing a bachelorette party and giving a present for the bridal shower(s), you’re expected to purchase a gift for the new couple. This is where things get tricky – you’re obviously close to the couple, or are a future in-law, so you’d probably like to get them something nice. But how much is too much to spend? We recommend purchasing a gift off the registry or cash gift totaling $100-150 per head.   
 Why do groomsmen get off the hook for paying for wedding events? Image source.
Attending a wedding that’s a cash bar:
In an effort to reduce expenses, and because couples are frequently footing the bill for their weddings in more recent times, some are opting for a cash bar at the wedding reception. Because guests have to purchase their own cocktails we recommend purchasing a gift off the registry or a giving a cash gift between $50-75 per head.
Side note: if you’re hosting a cash bar:
Be sure to let your guests know prior to the big day. This information should be spread by word of mouth, similar to how registry information spreads. Also, providing guests with a few drink tickets and wine throughout dinner is a nice way to ease the pain of the dreaded cash bar. 
Other tips to remember:
Don’t bring cumbersome gifts to the wedding. Deliver them to the couple prior, or post, wedding. Most major retailers with registry programs will also let the couple pick up their gifts at the store after the wedding.

Registry at The Bay? They’ll let you purchase and ask the couple to pick up the gift later. 

Wedding presents should be gifted no longer than six months to a year after the wedding date. Mixed opinions about the exact timing, but no later than the couple’s first anniversary, or else it’s just a bit awkward.
Stick to the registry, unless you’re very close to the couple and have a wonderful idea for a personal gift. If you choose to take this risk, include a gift receipt – people are very picky about items they hope to have for years and years to come. Yes, they really do want that brand-new alarm clock.

Broke? Give the gift of amazing music by DJing the wedding! Image source.
If you can’t afford a wedding present, offer your services. Are you an expert photographer or a great DJ? Offer this as a substitute gift to the couple a few months in advance of the wedding. 
If you’re bringing a date to the wedding, make sure you calculate this into the cost of the wedding gift. Typically a present should cover the cost of each plate (approximately $100). 
 Is this vase worth $7,500? Kim Kardashian thinks so. 

In the end, someone has invited you to their wedding because they want you to be there to celebrate with them. If you’re under extreme financial stress, no bride and groom wants you to give a gift that you can’t afford. Be happy, supportive and invite them over for a delicious dinner after the big event to show that you care, even if you can’t get them that $7,500 Baccarat vase they desperately need.

Ed. note: Happy weddings to our two upcoming summer brides on the fourth floor, Christina Walters and Abigail Van Den Broek.

Fashion-able: White Crow Online

As if working on Queen Street didn’t present enough shopping temptations, White Crow Online has opened up shop in the Burroughes Building.

White Crow has been one of our favourite online shopping destinations since it launched last December, so we were ecstatic to see them move into our building. This is White Crow’s first semi-permanent store front. Previously, they had a Valentine’s Day pop-up shop at Sleeping Giant Gallery and teamed up with LAB Consignment for a Mother’s Day sale at the Drake Hotel.

Owner Jin has a friend who helps her source styles and they import their clothing from Korea. Jin says she’d love to expand the store and offer wares from Australian and Europe, as well. White Crow’s offerings feel very fresh and of-the-moment. Best of all, the price points are really reasonable (most pieces are under $50), which makes lunchtime shopping sprees a legitimate concern.

Here are the pieces that top our shopping list this summer:

Jin says the plan was to stay in the Burroughes only for the summer, but the response has been really positive, so she may stay longer. Fine by us, we loving having White Crow here.

Check them out online or at 639 Queen St W. on street level. 

Store Hours
Mon-Wed: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Thur-Sat: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sun: noon to 6 p.m.


Fashion-able: Flat-soled solutions

For this Fashion-able post, we enlisted our stylist-turned-publicist Lara to give us the lowdown on flats for the summer. Her keen eye and strong, individual fashion sense means she’s got some serious opinions about shoe style. Let us know if you agree or not – tweet us @rockitpromo. 
I’m going to admit something that may offend: I don’t like ballet flats as footwear. Yep, I said it. And I mean it. Now I’ll also admit this: I’m being hypocritical because I own about 9 pairs of Bloch’s. I think they’re pretty to look at and don’t get me wrong, they look great for a cute, prepster look with skinny cropped jeans. But with skirts/flared jeans/leggings – I just cringed while typing.

I have a theory: I don’t think that people are all rocking this style based solely on their love of slippers. I think people gravitate to ballet flats because they’re easy, comfortable and most importantly, because there’s a lack of other flat-soled summer options out there.

Case in point: gladiator sandals. Probably the most unflattering footwear to exist to date. It’s quite simple really. Thick straps on ankles lead to cankles. End of story. No leg will be flattered when they become cut-off and thus, stumpy. Non-option number one.

Birkenstocks: I’m crunchy granola at heart (seriously), but really, they’re meant for the cottage. Period. Non-option number 2.

Thongs: Many people swear by them, but to me, they just hurt right between my big and second toes. I’m actually fascinated that people can wear these. Regardless, they’re non-option number three, unless you’re on the beach.
So what’s a girl to do? Well, don’t be discouraged to start with. I’ve found a few pairs of flatties, both high end, low end, casual and dressy, that will get you through the summer without having to take the easy route out with ballet flats, convenient as they may be.
Casual comfort go-to’s:

Bensimon Classic Lace Up Flats, $57.51,
SILVANA, originally $20, on sale for $12.98, Aldo
A flat espadrille and an light sneaker (FYI, Bensimon’s are Europe’s equivalent of North America’s Converse). Both great choices for a summer dress or skinny pant.
Dressier dilemmas? Solutions:
Dolce Vita Jayne Flat Sandals, $151, 
A thin strap around the ankle removes the stump factor and inserts the sexy factor, especially with the splash of gold on these.
Joie Cabaret Lace Up Flat Sandals $227,
AKSUMA $60, Aldo.
Same goes for airy chiffon. This amps up the romance and eliminates the dreaded cankle.

Jenni Kayne 3 Band Flat Sandals $353,
These don’t have the thong, which makes them dressier. The thick leather bands make them appropriate for work or nights out, and are the essence of a summer day-to-night shoe. 
Let’s all take a minute and relish the joy that comes in the form of a sockless summer. And while Rachel Bilson, one of my style icons, will always look impeccable in ballet flats, let’s aim to expand our horizons. We can do it, one slipper-less step at a time.

Media, Darling: Richard Crouse

Richard Crouse is the regular film critic for CTV’s Canada AM and its 24-hour news source News Channel. His Bravo show, In Short, runs Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. Crouse was the host of Reel to Real, Canada’s longest running television show about movies, from 1998 to 2008, and he is a frequent guest on many national Canadian radio and television shows. 
His syndicated Saturday afternoon radio show, Entertainment Extra, originates on NewsTalk 1010 in Toronto. He is also the author of six books on pop culture history including the best-selling The 100 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, its sequel The Son of the 100 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen and the upcoming Raising Hell: Ken Russell and the Unmaking of The Devils. Crouse also writes two weekly columns for Metro News and is the pop culture reporter for The Morton Report
Photo by James Heaslip.
Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?
I didn’t have aspirations to be on television or radio, but I did want to be a writer. The idea of sitting in an empty room with just a typewriter and my imagination was very appealing to me. Ironically, I ended up doing pretty much exactly the opposite of that. The radio and television jobs I took were originally meant as a way to get my name around so I could get published, then it all kind of morphed into one large amorphous pan-career that combines several very public jobs—the TV and radio gigs—with the more solitary writing jobs.  

Where would you like to be five years from now?

Five years from now I’d still like to be able to spend time alone with a typewriter and my imagination, but I’m afraid I’ve gotten used to the outside world, so I’d also hope to be seeing five or six movies a week and reporting on them for radio and TV.

Any advice for people getting started in your industry?

Be patient. The world of media is changing at the speed of light and while it is easy to think that your career should be moving at the same pace, establishing yourself in media takes time. Be patient and be persistent. It’s been my experience that the people who were able to remain standing the longest are the people who were able to create interesting, fulfilling careers. 
Once you have established yourself, the best advice I suggest is following the ATM theory… Always Take the Money. If someone offers you a gig that doesn’t involve nudity, clowns or children, take it.
What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
I’m a bit of a media junkie. Even though I have an iPad glued to my side at all times, a well-used and well-loved laptop for when the going gets rough, and a home computer you could launch a spaceship with, I prefer reading newspapers to getting my info online. We get newspapers delivered everyday, and on the weekends the pile of papers in front of the door threatens to barricade us inside.

Having said that, I’m a bit of a social media junkie, with an out-of-control Twitter habit and I check several websites everyday. For industry news, I look to and for the best, but crankiest movie commentary on the net I go to www.hollywood-elsewhere and Jeffrey Welles. I can only imagine he’s a very unhappy man, but his acerbic style is addictive. 

Best interview you’ve ever had?
I did a show called Reel to Real for 10 years and when it was said and done it was estimated that I did about 4,000 interviews with actors, directors and writers. I was thrilled to spend an hour chatting with special effects legend Ray Harryhausen, chuffed to joke around with Woody Allen, and I can tell you definitively that Angelina Jolie and Beyoncé are the two most beautiful women I have ever touched professionally. There are so many memories. 

Francis Ford Coppola told me, in a way that moved me very much, about his love of cinema. In a Barbara Walters moment I once made Mark Ruffalo cry on stage during a Q&A and one time, Harrison Ford took my dare and called me “Canada’s most beloved and intelligent film critic” before an audience of 500 people. He pronounced it bee-love-ed. I loved that.

Worst interview you’ve ever had?

One of the most uncomfortable interviews happened not because of the subject, but because of the crew. I was in New York to interview John Malkovich for a film he had directed. As usual I was dressed in a suit, complete with a tie and silver tie pin. It was about 40 degrees Celsius in the city that day and even hotter in the hotel room we shot the interview in. I hadn’t met Malkovich before, but I knew he designed his own clothes and lived in France. Sure enough, I walk into the suite and he is dressed to the nines, reading a French newspaper. We do the interview and it goes well. As I’m getting out of my chair, Malkovich says, “Stop. I want everyone to have a look a you.” I have no idea what is about to happen. Neither do the camera, makeup or sound people. They all stare at me. “This,” he continues, “is a man who came dressed for work today. This is a man who wants to be taken seriously. This is a man who commands our respect.” It was hot in that room already, but I’m guessing I was at least 10 degrees hotter under my collar than anyone in the room when I noticed that the people he was talking to were all wearing weather-appropriate T-shirts and shorts. I backed out of the room, afraid the dressed down (both literally and figuratively) crew might go crazy from the heat and take out their frustration with Malkovich on me. Based on the red-faced looks the crew were shooting my way I was convinced my tapes would be sabotaged and blank when I got back to Toronto. Luckily they weren’t.

The worst interview ever was one I did with a very famous Italian director during TIFF a few years ago. He was arrogant, disinterested and my 35th interview of the day. I asked one question, let him ramble on and while he was talking, read my notes for the NEXT interview. Every now and again I’d nod or say, “yes, yes…” to give him the idea I was paying attention, but he was so self-involved he didn’t even notice I had already moved on to the next subject. 

Best advice you’ve ever been given?

“Never wrestle with pigs. You’ll both get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.” Or, “never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite and never outstay the welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience. And if it hurts, you know what? It’s probably worth it.”

They’re both movie quotes, but they both speak to me in different ways. 

What rule(s) do you live your life by?
If I say I’m going to do something, I do it. My word is all I have. Well, that and a fabulous head of hair.

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Know your press. I cover movies and the film industry so don’t clog up my inbox with pitches for publicity for sports teams, best beauty tips to take your look from day to night in under five minutes or dog and pony shows. Not interested. This business thrives on personal relationships so let’s all get along and treat one another with respect.

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
I’ve had many wins with PR people. My job relies on a good back and forth with a core group of publicists and over the years I’ve built up good relationships with many of them.

I hate… Boredom.

I love… In no particular order: the sound of Ray Charles’s voice, the moment I realize I’m watching a great movie, the word “jackass”, the way my girlfriend still gets excited about going out for dinner, the cover of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, jukeboxes and a perfectly poured Guinness. 

Reading? Just Kids by Patti Smith. A must-read for anyone who loves good, heartfelt writing.
Best place on earth? The cocktail bar at Musso & Frank Grill on Hollywood Boulevard with Manny making giant bourbon Manhattans for me and my friends. 

Dinner guest? Anyone who appreciates my usual recipe for cheese puffs.

Hero? Anyone who has figured it out.

Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)? Sit or Squat. It has the uncanny ability to find the cleanest and closest bathroom to you no matter where on earth you are. And it’s free!

Pool or ocean? Pool, but only if it’s filled with champagne.

Voicemail or email? Voicemail for when I want to speak to you, e-mail for when I don’t. 

Yum Yum: Colombian BBQ

Our amazing assistant, Amalia, hails from Colombia and we’ve been hassling her to share a delicious Colombian recipe with us. She finally agreed, and we were not disappointed by how mouth-watering this looks. Plus, it’s perfect for a summer evening on a patio.

Summer is here. I welcomed summer with one of my most favourite BBQ dishes of all time: Carne asada con papas y mazorca. Did I lose you there?

Even though this Colombian recipe is one of the most basic dishes ever, it’s really tasty, healthy and is ready in just under an hour. It reminds me of summers with my mom. ¡Que dicha!

Finished product, hope you enjoy (I sure did).
Grilled Flank Steak, Potatoes and Corn on the Cob
(serves two)

1 pound of beef (flank steak or fillet)
2 small white potatoes
2 cobs of corn
1/2 cup of water
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 tomato, diced into small pieces
1/4 red pepper, diced small again
1/3 of cilantro bunch (aim to fill up about 3/4 of a cup)
2 tsp of Dijon mustard
4 tsp of cooking oil
3 tsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
Seasoning salt (of your choice)
Dash of hot sauce (any type will do, even pepper flakes if need be)
Salt and pepper to taste

Carne Asada (Beef) 
1. Combine mustard, garlic, salt and pepper in a medium-sized bowl, mix in beef and let sit for 15 minutes in fridge.
2. Once the meat has absorbed flavours of the mustard and garlic, it’s ready to go on the BBQ. Cook for as long as you like (i.e/ rare, medium, well-done, etc). Most Colombians typically cook their meat to rare.

Papas (Potatoes)
1. Wash and dice potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes.
2. Mix garlic clove (finely chopped), seasoning salt and oil together in a bowl.
3. Add potatoes, mix thoroughly to ensure that potatoes are fully covered in oil.
4. Place seasoned potatoes on tinfoil, and wrap into a package, tucking in all edges. Poke small holes on top using a fork.
5. Cook for about 35 minutes on top rack (or the coolest spot on your BBQ) and rotate twice to ensure it cooks properly.

Mazorca (Corn on the cob)
1. Cut corn cob in half (or smaller pieces if you’d like).
2. Place in boiling pot of water with a pinch of salt for 15 minutes.
3. Cook for 10 minutes on top rack of BBQ (or a cooler spot on your grill) and rotate to ensure it cooks evenly.

Aji (spicy dipping sauce)
1. In a small bowl mix spring onions, tomato, red pepper and cilantro, add olive oil, a dash of water, pinch of salt and some hot sauce (or spicy ingredient of your choice). Mix thoroughly until sauce reaches a saucy texture (like photo below).

Image via My Kitchen’s Flavors.
Once everything is cooked, plate and enjoy. Dip potatoes into sauce, or do like I do, and dip everything in it. Trust me, it’s amazing that way.