TIFF 2016: Toronto is 'Puttin' on the Ritz' for TIFF

An insider's look at the Hollywood invasion transforming downtown Toronto's restaurants, bars and hotels offering the stars speciality services.

An insider's guide to a celebrity's lifestyle during TIFF

Toronto businesses are transformed into a TIFF playground for Hollywood's elite. 2:17

Local businesses are in high gear while Toronto International Film Festival's Hollywood A-listers are in town — rolling out special bar menus, customizing their services and offering exclusive access to some of Toronto's premiere venues.  

A few of the restaurants, bars and hotels that are being creative to draw in stars gave CBC News insider access to experience how these mega celebrities will be eating, drinking and sleeping during the next eight days.  

High end Toronto-inspired cocktails

New this year, 'The 6' cocktail is a tribute to Drake and part of a show stopping lineup of six cocktails at the DEQ Terrace and Lounge at the Ritz-Carlton. Bartenders specifically crafted the menu for the hotel's sixth year at TIFF.

With a $600 price tag 'The 6' cocktail is a blend of 25-year-old Johnnie Walker scotch whiskey, bitters, vanilla rooibos, fine Italian vermouth and finished with 100-year-old Remy Martin Louis XIII Grande Champagne. (Paul Borkwood/CBC)

The Ritz is a renowned celebrity hotspot because of its proximity to the red carpets rolling out at Roy Thomson Hall's TIFF movie premieres. Josh Young, a lead bartender at the hotel, is mixing other Toronto-inspired cocktails on the menu that's also shaped like a six:

  • The 6 (paying tribute to Drake)
  • The Edge 360 (for the CN Tower and edge walk)
  • The Street Rocket (representing streetcars in Toronto)
  • Bay Street Bull (for Toronto's Financial District)
  • Love Distill (symbolizing the Distillery District)
  • 416 Graffiti (for the original telephone area code and Graffiti Alley)

Private rooftop parties

A well-known venue for its private parties during TIFF, the Thompson Hotel has one of the only rooftop pools in the city attracting celebrities like Brad Pitt and Julianne Moore who are seeking a 360 degree skyline view and privacy from the poolside lounge.  

Sweeping views of the city's top attractions, such as the CN Tower, attract Hollywood's elite to the Thompson Hotel's rooftop pool and lounge during TIFF. (Paul Borkwood/CBC)

"It's a nice venue where the celebrities can really enjoy themselves and enjoy the company of one another without being bothered," says Jeff Waters, general manager of the Thompson Toronto. 

For the first three nights of TIFF Bungalow 8, a New York nightclub is taking over the Thompson's rooftop offering customized DJ sets for the stars. (Paul Borkwood/CBC)

This year's guest list attending includes American Pastoral actor/director, Ewan McGregor and actresses, Jennifer Connelly and Dakota Fanning; Oscar-winner and Snowden's director, Oliver Stone; and other notable celebrities like James Franco, Julianne Moore, Sandra Bullock, Matt Damon and Emily Blunt during last year's festival.  

Catering to the stars

Montecito's kitchen is serving Sandra Bullock's favourite crispy potatoes and the massaged kale salad that general manager, Heather McDougall says Julianne Moore couldn't get enough of before last year's screening of Freeheld.

CBC Toronto's, Ali Chiasson and Montecito's general manager, Heather McDougall are standing inside restaurant's furnace room which doubles as a secret entrance. McDougall says she's usually the one who helps bring celebrities like Room star Brie Larson and Spotlight director Tom McCarthy through these secret passages. (Paul Borkwood/CBC)
 

But this is just one of the things that makes this venue exclusive. Montecito has two back doors to usher A-list celebrities needing covert access in and out without being disturbed, says McDougall.   

From special bar menus, to opulent drinks, lavish hotel parties, private access and delectable food these Toronto businesses are creating new ways to celebrate TIFF that will bring Hollywood celebrities through their doors.  

With files from Alison Chiasson