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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

This One Night Stand could lead to long-term relationship

Posted: 08/9/2014 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

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There's a school of thought -- adhered to by pretty much every teenager's dad -- that states nothing good ever happens after midnight.

Annie Sibonney doesn't share that point of view.

As host of the travel/adventure series One Night Stand, Sibonney has travelled the globe -- from Tel Aviv to South Carolina to Glasgow to Barcelona and beyond -- in search of all the great things that occur between sundown and sunup.

Based on what has been presented so far on One Night Stand, which airs Tuesdays at 7 p.m. on Discovery World, the Toronto-based foodie, designer, tour-company operator and enthusiastic world traveller has a pretty convincing argument.

One Night Stand is Sibonney's second TV-series collaboration with former Winnipegger Dale Burshtein -- the pair worked together on the Food Network series From Spain With Love, a romantically adventurous celebration of Spanish food and culture that earned two Canadian Screen Awards (including a best-director nod for Burshtein).

With One Night Stand, Sibonney and Burshtein have maintained the up-for-anything attitude that made Spain so appealing, while expanding the focus of their exploration to a wider range of destinations.

So far, the six-part series has visited Israel, the southern U.S., Scotland and Spain, with Sibonney spending a single whirling-dervish day in each locale. She visits with noteworthy residents -- chefs, restaurateurs, artists and saloon-keepers, mostly -- and spends the dusk-till-dawn hours eating, drinking, laughing, dancing and eating and drinking some more.

It's a pretty simple formula, but it sure does work. Thanks largely to Sibonney's infectious charm and hugely adventurous spirit (if early episodes are an indication, she'll try anything that can be sipped, chewed, explored or ridden upon), One Night Stand feels like the sort of show with which one could build a long-term relationship.

Sibonney, the Toronto-raised offspring of French/Moroccan parents, developed a love for food and cooking early in childhood and started her own catering company while attending university. After travelling internationally for many years -- often to Spain and its surrounding area -- in search of new food-inclined adventures, she created Relish Culinary Tours, a travel company specializing in high-end "gastro-nomadic" tours of Spain and Italy.

Given her extensive knowledge of the region's food and culture, From Spain With Love seemed to be an inevitable next step. And One Night Stand is logically the step after that.

With this week's episode, One Night Stand seeks a closer-to-home brand of mischief in Canada's most culturally adventurous city, Montreal. During a dizzyingly fast-paced, cram-it-all-into-one-memorable-night episode, Sibonney and her crew seek out the best traditional smoked-meat sandwich, sample regional staples such as split-pea soup and tourtière, visit a Catholic church, take in a Habs game and then bar-hop their way through a burlesque show, an urban-graffiti tour and a seafood-and-shots marathon.

After a 3 a.m. serving of poutine and hot dog steamés, Sibonney grabs a few winks before reconvening with her friends for the brunch to end all brunches -- including (but certainly not limited to) maple-bacon pancakes, absinthe cocktails, braised eel, champagne (cork popped with a chef's-knife flourish, of course), gargantuan lobsters and soft-boiled ostrich eggs.

It's captivating, but One Night Stand certainly isn't a how-to travelogue that shows ordinary folks how to experience these somewhat exotic destinations. Either Sibonney is supremely well connected or the show has an efficient advance team that seeks out just the right people for a perfect all-nighter. Whatever the case, One Night Stand never encounters the closed doors, over-filled restaurants and wait-list delays that average tourists face as a matter of course.

Sibonney and Burshtein have created a show that draws viewers in by making them feel like they're sharing in something a bit cheeky, a bit naughty, a bit sexy, a bit excessive and perhaps even slightly out of bounds. This isn't the way you and I would normally vacation, but wouldn't it be fun, just for a night or two, to try?

Burshtein, who started her TV career at Global TV in Winnipeg, has in recent years developed a flair for creating and producing lifestyle shows with a slightly off-centre attitude. Among her credits are the multiple Gemini-Award-winning foodie travelogue The Surreal Gourmet, the pet-obsessed documentary project For the Love of Dog and the culinary-makeover series Crash My Kitchen.

By finding each other, Burshtein and Sibonney have created a deliciously symbiotic TV-production relationship. Discerning consumers of travel/food-TV fare will undoubtedly be most eager to see what's next on their menu.

brad.oswald@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @BradOswald

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 9, 2014 G9

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