Toronto’s premier event planner Joan Pierre is known for many things from creating an unforgettable event to her fashionable style and cooking a good meal. Since starting Joan Pierre & Associates in 1993, demand to work with Pierre extends throughout Canada, back to her home country and into the U.S. The Trinidadian-born extraordinaire has been involved with the design and implementation of some of Toronto’s biggest events such as Caribana, The African Canadian Achievement Awards and Get Your Move On (City of Toronto) and has also dabbled in the states assisting with the African Heritage Music Festival in New Orleans and the Atlanta Music Festival. She is currently planning three events for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am /Parapan Am Games that will take place July 10 – August 15 in multiple venues and locations across the Greater Golden Horseshoe Area.
When she not coordinating a gala, festival or fashion show, you can find Pierre entertaining volunteers, friends and family at home. “I love entertaining because I love to cook. Any opportunity to prepare a meal and entertain, that is me,” says the oldest of 10 children.
“At age 12, I was making homemade bread, just helping my mom in the kitchen.” Being the oldest child and wanting to discover who she was and not get caught up in the tradition of getting married young and having children, she moved to Canada where she says she blossomed in many ways including her culinary skills.
“What happened to me when I moved to Canada was strange. I knew how to cook a big meal, like the weekend meals because that is when you are home. So you cook the Sunday meal and you bake and make all of these fancy dishes. But I didn’t know how to do day-to-day things because I was never home to do the quick meals during the week. So when I came here [Toronto] that is when I had to learn to cook the everyday meals.”
Now, she says, “Every time I travel, I pick up a cookbook from that place so that I know their local dishes and I will put my spin on it. I love making cornbread. I discovered cornbread in 1975 from a restaurant that was called the Underground Railroad. “I said what is this? Eventually I found out and by trial and error, friends will tell you, I have the best cornbread here. You can’t touch my cornbread.”
When designing the perfect setting for entertaining, she starts with selecting a color for the placemats and dinnerware that coordinates with the season and theme. Next, she selects the menu making sure not to mix cuisines and keeping in mind who is coming and whether they are a vegetarian or meat eater.
Perfect for any entertaining occasion is her punch that even has those who typically don’t drink grabbing a glass. “I have a very good Caribbean punch that I will make and people will drink it and think there’s not much alcohol until after two or three drinks and they will say, ‘Joan, what do you have in there?'” Her festive libation includes four different blends of fruit juices, white rum from Jamaica and beer among other secret punch ingredients. Just like her cornbread, she declares, “I am famous for that punch.”