George D. Bedell Award: Bob Desautels
Bob Desautels’ (HAFA ‘75 and MA ’84) early career involved playing golf professionally and competing on both the Canadian and Australian PGA golf tours. Eventually he became club manager and professional at a golf club north of Toronto. In 1981 Bob accepted a teaching position on the Faculty at the University of Guelph, School of Hotel and Food Administration. It was during his time teaching that he opened La Maison, a restaurant serving French cuisine, and Guelph’s first wine bar. Bob also began his involvement with environmental initiatives in the early 1980’s. He was a founding member of Canada’s Green Party in 1983. In 1991 Bob started up Neighbourhood Group of Companies (NGC). The company’s pub concept was centered around a purchasing philosophy that featured locally-crafted foods and beverages. In 2008 the company started a new concept, The Borealis Grille and Bar (and now has two locations in Guelph and Kitchener). In 2015 Bob and his son, Court, created a new restaurant concept called Miijidaa Café + Bistro.The most recent restaurant concept to be added to NGC's group of restaurants is Park Grocery. Bob has always been a committed advocate for developing a strong sense of community, promoting diversification of local economies and encouraging environmentally sound business practices. Bob is now retired from day-to-day operations, but as Chair of the Neighbourhood Group of Companies, his major focus of his activities looking forward will be to help the company expand concepts across Ontario. Bob is also an accomplished author and is focusing on his writing career.