VizEat: A Revolutionary Dining Experience

Ever find yourself searching online for the “most authentic” places to eat when traveling to a new place? What if you could have the most authentic dining experience? VizEat allows you to pick any country and search for the best food experiences.

Conceptually similar to Airbnb, users choose a city, then select an experience that best suits their style and taste — or something completely different for an experience out of their comfort zones. It could be a cheese and wine tasting in Paris or enjoying a feast on a rooftop in Istanbul.

Source: VizEat

As a host, you can sign up as a passionate home cook or amateur chef. After sharing your food story, the menu you want to create, and some other details, you’re on your way to cooking for travellers coming from all over the world! Love throwing dinner parties? This is a great way to share your love of food and cooking with people who are interested, while making some extra income.

Vizeat started in France in 2014, and then launched mid-February in Canada by Cristina Carpio- Canadian Food and Beverage Expert, TV Host, Going Global TV and Restaurant Operator/Brand Strategist/Entrepreneur. Highly invested in the Canadian Food and Beverage scene, Carpio’s goal is to “provide opportunities to fellow Canadians who love to cook as well as help attract tourists to our beautiful cities here in Canada.”

By downloading the app, anyone can access over 22,000 hosts in 100 countries.

 VizEat is bringing together people who share a love of food. According to Carpio, they “have from local celebrity chefs to master chefs to home cooks, dining platform provides opportunities to anyone who has a passion for cooking. We also have food tour companies, wine tour companies, and other food and beverage related businesses providing authentic experiences.” All menus are available with host profile so users will know exactly what they are booking.

In New Brunswick, they have a caviar education and tasting experience, In Toronto, Chef Scott Savoie, pioneer of food tours in Toronto offers a great package, in which he takes users to St. Lawrence Market, shops for ingredients with guests and tours the local city market. He and the diners then go back to the dinner location for a cooking class and to prepare the meal together. He also does Ontario wine pairings with dinner and cocktails to start the evening!

Source: Vizeat

VizEat offers various experiences such as a homemade meal. Experience lunch, brunch, dinner, aperitif, picnic, or tea time with your host in their home while sharing stories and cultures. This is also a great way to get advice and tips from a local about the city. You can also sign up for a cooking class. In these sessions, you can learn how to prepare authentic dishes with help from your host in a 2-3 hour culinary experience. You can also do a food tour. Your host will take you on a tour of their favourite foodie hotspots. This may include local markets, artisanal stalls and gourmet shops. You can taste local specialties and get to know the shopkeepers. Experiences also vary from cheap eats to a culinary Italian feast by MasterChef finalist Vince Spitale.

Carpio states “VizEat is all about cultural immersion and immersing yourself with locals and providing authentic experiences. This platform shows people that dining experiences are not only found in restaurants and hotels, resorts. VizEat experiences are only held in authentic locations and NEVER in restaurants. Cultural immersion is the future of dining and travel.”

An experience on its own, VizEat is a great way to meet people, and an out-of-the-box alternative to simply reserving a spot at the local restaurant.

Masterchef Canada Season 3 finalist Vince Spitale


International design visionaries Diego Burdi and Paul Filek of design studio BURDIFILEK have been at the centre of luxury retail, with nearly 25 years of experience transforming retail spaces such as Holt Renfrew to a series of Neiman Marcus stores across the US. These design partners have won over 150 internationally recognized awards for creating shopping experiences all over the world from New York to Korea. 

It is true that social media and online shopping have changed the way retail works, but we asked Burdi and Filek about how retail space design has evolved in the last two decades and their take on what designers need to consider when creating retail spaces. 

Helen: How did Burdifilek get started?

Diego: We met as design students. We stayed in touch after graduation and eventually started Burdifilek.

Describe your personal design aesthetic.

D: Classic modern with an unexpected, almost eccentric twist.

Paul: Minimal, modern, pared back.

Can you break down your design process?

D: Our design process starts with understanding the real problem at hand and identifying the opportunities within the project from a global point of view.
P: Our studio designs holistically as a team, which means the designers aren’t broken into specialized groups by sector. We find clients benefit most from the shared learnings across our studio.

How do you balance personal aesthetic with clients?

D: We design spaces to reflect the quality, sensibility, and performance of a brand and its product. Since no two brands are the same, I strongly believe a good designer appreciates every form of design and understands how to bring the appropriate design language to their clients. Our clientele is drawn to this design approach and sensibility in our work, so while my personal visual aesthetic does not extend into my client’s point of view, the principles of careful consideration and editing that underscores my personal aesthetic does resonate throughout the work.

P: I agree – the principles of consideration are shared across my aesthetic, Diego’s aesthetic, and client’s aesthetic. It takes on a different visual expression for each client, but the level of consideration remains constant.

How have retail spaces evolved in the last 2 decades?

D: Retail spaces have evolved because the retail industry itself has evolved. Retailers have become more focused on what they are trying to offer the consumer, creating a more multi-faceted experience from a lifestyle point of view to celebrate their product. We are also more design aware as a society, and since consumers have so many options available to them now, there is a growing appreciation for the physical retail experience as a platform to attract consumers. A confident brand experience is becoming more and more important for the end user.

P: First and foremost, retailers are evolving because they are faced with more competition now than ever before. International competition is a big challenge for local and national brands. The successful retailers have become much more focused on targeting who their client is and they are becoming much clearer on what separates their brand identity and offering from all others. Retailers are all looking for that point of differentiation.

Is there a specific vibe people gravitate to now? Are people more likely to walk into a store that’s Instagram-friendly?

D: People gravitate toward authenticity and originality. We all seek things that speak to us.

P: I don’t think there is a specific vibe, but brands are recognizing the power of mood and atmosphere and embracing a unique point of view that is curated toward a specific customer. Shopping is a necessity, but the physical environment is also part entertainment so we are seeing more cues from the hospitality world intermingling with retail. Ideas around “interactive” and “experiential” come from hospitality.

How do you design a space that caters to a social-driven lifestyle?

Shopping is socially-driven and retail is entertainment. We don’t design spaces specifically to cater to a social-driven lifestyle because life is about being social. We design for life.

Explain society’s need for instantaneity through the lens of design visionaries such as yourselves? Is this aspect difficult to infuse into your design?

Everyone is hungry for newness because there is so much happening at once. As a designer, we are constantly looking for ways to recreate the newness. Our society is bombarded with everyone shouting at 120 decibels. We are looking for new ways to cut through the noise and distill the design in a focused way that leaves a point of memory amidst the noise.

What makes someone walk into a store they don’t necessarily already know about?

P: When the confidence of a brand and product is appealing, then someone will be motivated to walk into the store. There is a curiosity in finding something new that resonates in terms of product quality and experience.

D: When the retailer’s program, offering, and point of view is strong from the lease line. A clear and focused message about their value and brand experience. When the product and environment are cohesive, one frames the other and the offering is focused for the consumer.

According to your expertise, what are some design strategies that retailers can employ to generate more sales?

A more focused program. Trying to be everything to everyone, and this just does not work anymore. In the times we live in now, where everything is available to consumers, a clear and confident point of view is what will make a brand successful.

Mark Lash

What are some common mistakes retailers make when designing their space?

Brands often seek a trendy visual language to sell cool. Piggybacking off the success of another brand’s design is a mistake because consumers are looking for the uniqueness in each retailer. “Monkey see, monkey do” does not work.

Most important physical elements to consider when looking to change a retail space?

D: Do not underestimate the importance of materiality and lighting in retail.

P: I think the most important physical element is to maximize the opportunity of the actual space itself. From the site selection, shop entry, or customer flow through the environment, every new location requires the brand experience to be optimized for each new space. Forcing a pre-set design into a new location removes all consideration for the brand experience.

What do you want people to know about designing a retail space in the current market?
A retail space is a continuation of the brand story, and there must be a strong connection back to that. Look for the differentiating brand factors that will set you apart. A space is a continuation of the story – like another chapter in the storyline – so it needs to be cohesive.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Retail is becoming more complex, and brands are hiring various consultants to help navigate the landscape. As a result, there are many new considerations and concerns in the front and back of house that accompany the launch of a shop beyond design. A strong retail program acts as the backbone for design and creates a canvas for the best possible experience. The whole experience must be well prepared and well thought out. The most successful brands do not show up in the mall with stock and leaving the experience up to chance. Every touch point is carefully crafted and considered.

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Post-Winter Hydration

I know that February is the shortest month, but it seems that the first two months of 2017 just flew by. And that just means we’re that much more closer to spring! However, during this winter, as with every winter, the moisture-sucking climate has taken a real toll on my already very dry skin. Regardless of skin type, taking care of yourself and staying hydrated is important for everyone. Here are a few tips to get your hair, skin, nails, and everything else feeling lush and rejuvenated for what seems like an early spring.



My hair is very thick and curly so it needs a whole lot of lovin’. Using an olive oil or coconut oil treatment once a week helps restore your damaged, dry hair. It’s important to do this especially if you use hot tools regularly. These oils are good for all hair types. Be sure to read the label to make sure they’re 100% oil — no added nonsense.

When applying, massage the oil into your hair, starting at the ends and working your way up into the scalp. Wait for a minimum of 30 minutes, then make sure to shampoo and rinse at least twice to get all the oil out. Of course, there are other products out there that help with dry and damaged hair — it’s just a matter of finding out what works for you. Our contributor Meg is trying out Curl Shoppe products right now, check out her weekly updates over on our Instagram.



I have reeaaally dry skin, if you didn’t get that already. So I’ve decided not to be so lazy about my skincare (out of necessity) and am now on the lookout for the perfect moisturizer. I’ve been using the tried and true Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief to get rid of any flakiness or tightness on my face (especially under my eyes and around my mouth) before I use the Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+. I feel like sometimes face moisturizers can be really thick, leaving you feeling like there’s just a layer of it on top of your skin, clogging your pores. Clinique has a lightweight formula that sinks into my skin and does its job. I also apply grape seed oil on my face every couple of days to help with dry patches. It has no scent and is a non-comedogenic, which means it doesn’t clog pores.

Don’t forget your lips in all of this! I usually just mix a tablespoon of brown sugar — granulated will do fine — with some olive oil or honey. Gently scrub this mixture on your lips and leave it on for a minute, then wash it off with warm water and apply lip balm.



If I don’t take care of my nails, they can get real brittle, especially during winter with the lack of moisture in the air. I apply Vitamin E oil to my fingernails and massage it in, to stimulate blood supply. I also use moisturizing hand creams, often with shea or coconut oil, which also helps with the dry and brittle nail problem. You can also create a soak with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to help strengthen your nails. Olive oil penetrates nail cuticles to repair and strengthen the nail while lemon juice helps restore damage and gives your nails a bright sheen.

You should also use nail polish removers that are “acetone-free.” Granted, it takes more time to remove the polish, but acetone is really drying so it might be worth it.



Exfoliate, moisturize, repeat. Exfoliation is a major part of skincare and once you get into it, you’ll notice the difference. You can always buy body scrubs from the store but making an all-natural exfoliant is a lot easier than you think — as long as you have sugar in your pantry. Don’t pay an arm and a leg for a trendy coffee scrub. Click here to learn how to make your own using just sugar, coffee, and the leftover coconut oil from your hair treatment.

Your Insides

You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again. Drinking water is the best thing you can do for your body and hydration. It’s good for every external and internal parts of you. Winter increases the risk of dehydration because more moisture is lost through the respiratory evaporation.

Flow Water is 100% natural Canadian spring water and has a naturally high pH, which offsets modern acidic diets, and electrolytes to keep your body more hydrated. Flow also provides healthful properties such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium carbonate. You can pick up a bottle of Flow in your local grocery store, and if you live in Toronto or Vancouver you can order weekly deliveries and have it brought to your doorstep in an eco-friendly BMWi3.

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Spring Break Packing Essentials

It’s that time again where you leave your books and papers behind and jump on a plane to a beach or the mountains. You’ve booked your flight, bought 10 swimsuits, and the only thing left to do is pack. If you’re someone who overpacks but is also prone to forgetting something, we’ve created a list of packing essentials. Now these are only the basics that you really need on a vacation. It’s easy to overpack clothing, and shoes that take up valuable suitcase space. When I was packing things “just in case”, I was only creating more unnecessary baggage I had to lug around. Now I stick to basics. I usually bring a carry on suitcase, and either a backpack (if I need to bring my laptop) or a really big tote, which doubles as a beach bag. You won’t be worried about all the things you didn’t bring when you’re living hakuna matata on the beach anyway. So here it is, my packing essentials for spring break:

In your backpack/tote:

  • Laptop and Charger: Only if you really need it. There’s really no reason you would unless the internet is your job.
  • Phone and Charger: You should probably save all your photos and videos to your laptop before you go.
  • Earphones: Also great for when you don’t want to talk to strangers on the plane.
  • Makeup Bag: You don’t want to overpack your makeup either. Give your skin a vacation too and leave the contour kit behind. You’ll be bronzed in no time anyway.
  • Sunscreen and Skin Care: Sunscreen is important. You know that. Also try and get travel sized skin care products or buy travel sized bottles so you can transfer some in there and bring those instead.
  • Any Medication: You might need a doctor’s prescription or a note just in case.
  • Wallet: Most preferably the wristlet variety for the nights out
  • Passport and a Copy of Your Passport: It’s important to have your passport on you at all times when travelling, but we all know you’ll lose it so lock the real thing in your hotel and carry around a copy. Better safe than sorry.

In your Carry-on:


  • 3 Tops:  This includes any variation of tanks and tees.
  • 3 Bottoms: This includes any combination of cute shorts, versatile baggy pants, and maybe even a skirt. Remember, comfort is key.
  • A Jumpsuit: Speaking of comfort, a lightweight jumpsuit is the easiest thing to wear — it looks great, and doesn’t take up a lot of space.
  • A Dress: A colourful lightweight number or even an LBD could come in handy.
  • Bathing Suits: You can bring a couple, obviously. They don’t take up a lot of room and even if you’re not going to the beach, having one on hand doesn’t hurt if there’s a pool where you’re going.
  • A cover-up
  • Undergarments: No. Don’t pack 15 pairs of underwear.
  • A Hat: This is good as cover up for unflattering beach hair as well as keeping your face from getting sunburnt.
  • Shoes: I usually bring flip-flops, which are easy to wear, and going out shoes — you could bring a pair of comfortable heels or some flats which are easy to transport. I also usually bring a pair of running shoes and wear them on the way to wherever I’m going. This way, I don’t have to worry about making it fit in my luggage.
  • Travel Sized Hair Products
  • Hair Tools: I try to only bring a straightener.
  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste

On you:

I usually travel wearing a comfortable t-shirt, some baggy pants, and the pair of running shoes I mentioned before. I also bring a hoodie with me just in case it’s cold in the plane. There may be some chilly nights as well so it’ll come in handy then. Safe and fun travels!


Sympli: Real Women, Real Bodies

Shopping for clothes can get frustrating and leave women feeling inadequate about their bodies. Often, we find ourselves adjusting our body shape to fit the clothes and not the other way around.

Jan Stimpson and Abbey Stimpson, a dynamic mother daughter duo decided to challenge the norm by coming out with a universal line for women of all shapes and sizes. Jan had been designing clothes for 40 years prior, and Abbey soon followed. From helping lay fabric on the cutting board to working with her mom in between soccer practices as a teenager to make some extra cash, she grew up in the business. Together, they built their BC-based brand Sympli, which stands behind positive body image and caters to all women. Sympli was the first Canadian brand to design a universal line for women of all body types and ages as well as introduce a plus size line.

Behind its success is the long and time consuming process in creating a line that was accommodating to all kinds of bodies while still maintaining some shape to it. When asked about creating the line, Jan Stimpson stated “I had always designed clothes for every woman but as the years went by, the style just got a lot more form fitting, a lot tighter. It was very difficult for women, and I’m not talking full figured women, I’m just talking average women, to fit into anything.”

The name Sympli, refers to the everyday, simpler style of clothing the brand produces. It really is about designing a comfortable line that accommodated as many women as possible with cuts that were flattering for their body, as opposed to putting themselves in boxy t-shirts. This is how Sympli started,with some t-shirts and a few pants. They offer a slim fit, a relaxed fit, and a tunic fit that accommodated everyone. It was a nicely fit t-shirt that came in a variety of necklines and sleeve lengths.

That’s where they thrived. “Women loved it. They could finally shop and look great and feel great. Like the basic t-shirt that’s not just a box for somebody who had had a few kids and didn’t want to wear a skinny t-shirt.”

Along with the basics, Sympli now does tops and lighter weight jackets. Their first line of outerwear coats came out last year.  Their market reaches those who embrace the practicality of the line. Abbey states “Once women get around their 30s, they become a lot more open to the fact that fashion should be durable. They make more long term choices and they have more ethical values as to how and where their clothes were made and how long they last.”

Local production is an integral part of the process. The fabrication and local manufacturing allow for superior quality. “We’re not fast fashion so we don’t design our clothes to rotate off the shelf every couple of weeks. We will look at trends that are approachable in a body friendly way and try to include it in a way that won’t be out of style next year. Local production is really important to us and its gotten us to where we are today.”

Jan recalls the the hardest part of taking this approach to fashion is the process to actually accommodate all different body types and the rigorous process to do it authentically. More time is spent picking garments than actually designing them. The garments are fitted on a number of size 4s, 8s, 10s, 16s, etc. Even within size ranges, each body is different. It’s much easier to take the template form of the super thin model sitting in front of a white background. It’s easier to execute, cheaper and more readily available. “People know what’s working out there and they just essentially copy it. Our process is challenging and very time consuming,” says Jan. Around 95% of Sympli’s pieces are not computer generated.

Sympli also works with the Looking Glass Foundation and youth suffering with eating disorders. An automatic match with the message behind Sympli, the Looking Glass Foundation was founded by three mothers whose daughters had suffered from eating disorders. It was started in Deep Cove in Vancouver, where the Sympli got started as well. Passionate about people moving toward a healthier version of body image, the organization’s holistic approach to treating disorders is something both Jan and Abbey believe in. Their Hand in Hand program encourages a real support system between trained survivors and those who are suffering now. This allows for a more organic approach and support system for their journey to recovery.

Sympli challenges other companies to have the guts to display unique bodies, and a variety of healthy bodies. Jan states, “For women to embrace their own bodies and to enjoy it and be healthy and love yourself, the change starts from the way we feel within ourselves. As much as we like to blame the media, we have to take a look at what we stand for and what we’re attracted to, and what we try to be.”