Reality series host and culinary mixologist Jeremy Parsons has fond memories of cooking in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother from an early age when he grew up in Burlington, Ontario.
While studying Philosophy at Western University, one of his friends approached him for help to mix drinks at a bar event. Jeremy began experimenting, taking his culinary knowledge and adding it to mixology. Parsons’ drinks immediately set him apart from everyone else. He then started thinking about textures, ingredients, and presentation. His appearance that night at the local bar changed his life. It turned out that the event was televised, and two days later Bacardi Canada called Jeremy to schedule a meeting.
Though self-taught as a chef and mixologist, Parsons has been working with many of the top liquor labels in North America for the past 25 years. He has participated in training programs with many big brands, learning from top master distillers and mixologists.
From the knowledge he gleaned, Parsons hoped to expand the limitations on mixology by adding his own flair . Around 2004, while working at Bacardi Canada events, the LCBO asked Parsons to open their in-store kitchens. His exposure kept attracting industry people. “They found an interest in my cocktails and my approach,” Parsons admits.
In no time, opportunities came one after another. Parsons was featured in Bar and Beverage, and as a contributor for multiple magazines like Nightclub & Bar, Food & Drink, and Chatelaine.
Parsons co-wrote his first book Cold Tea at Three in 2005, at the age of 30. The book features innovative cocktail and food pairings as well as entertaining tips with stylish presentations. He founded his own beverage marketing and event management company Cocktails – The Fluid Experience in 1999, and has run thousands of events all over the US and parts of the Caribbean.
Jeremy was doing short reality tv clips internationally for Resource Media when he was asked if he’d be interested in doing a show with Amazon Prime. He pitched the idea of the Gastro Guru; a culinary mixologist hosting a traveling reality show. Amazon loved the concept, and filming has already begun to capture material in various locations. Episodes will be released for streaming early next year.
In 2021, Parsons and his wife created a two-day festival called Sip! Niagara Food & Drink Festival . Sip! Niagara will take place this year at a larger venue, the Charles Daley Park in Lincoln, as the popularity of the event is expected to attract over 5,000 guests this year. Parsons hopes to break the world record for the World’s Largest Caesar Bar, with more than 186 ingredients available for customizing. The event happens on October 1 and 2 from 12 pm to 7 pm.
While there, you’ll find numerous themed activation spaces, local and exotic cocktails, wines and beers, food vendors, bands playing, and local visual graffiti artists. Guests can go through at their own pace amongst the more than 200 food and drink samples available to try.
Partnering with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of North/West Niagara, Jeremy has arranged for a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales to go toward this organization. At no additional cost, he will also be conducting cooking classes with the kids, complete with swag bags.
Parsons reminisces, “Learning to cook is an amazing life lesson to impart to a kid. It reminds me of my time with my own mother and grandmother, time that had a significant impact on the direction of my life.” A rolling list of vendors and the entertainment lineup can be found on the Sip! Niagara website at www.sipniagara.com . You can also buy general access, food sampling and Caesar bar tickets in advance on the website.
by Michele Bogle