Idol judge admits he’s a ‘sucker for marketing’



Photo Illustration by david Van Dyke/Photos by Aonghus Kealy/Metro Toronto


Two beer moments with Canadian Idol judge Zack Werner — perhaps pensive, then rock ’n’ rollin’ — at Amadeus Bavarian Beer Stube earlier this week.


It’s his first time trying a Warsteiner lager, looking beautiful and golden in its signature stein, and Zack Werner wants me to sniff his beer.

"Smell that. It’s fruity," says the raucous Canadian Idol judge, lifting his beer to my face. He grins sheepishly when I tell him all I get is a blast of cigarette smoke.

I met Werner at a Canadian Idol event last weekend at the Hard Rock Café, and we struck up a conversation about drinking the right beer for the right moment.

We agreed to meet again on Tuesday night, this time at Amadeus Bavarian Bierstube (Richmond and University).

After I feasted on schnitzel strips, brathwurst and sauerkraut with my

Hacker-Pschorr pilsner (Munich, Germany) then Austrian biggie Stiegl lager, Zack arrived. Not really his kinda haunt, but he loved his Warsteiner.

He admits that he often goes for "whatever the sponsor is above the door." But for this former rocker and entertainment lawyer turned record producer, Ex often marks the spot. "If I’m at The Horseshoe, or some kind of Queen Street circumstance, or Lee’s Palace, an environment of rock ’n’ roll, I’m an Ex guy when I’m in this typical Canadian beer boy situation.

"But if you’re at the Duke of York (Bedford and Prince Arthur), you have to have a Smithwicks or a Tetley’s ...

"Later, I’m going to The Beaconsfield (Queen and Dufferin), and I know the room I’ll be in. Dark room, dark beer.

And that typically means he’ll point at "The Boot" tap — "I’m a marketing sucker obviously," he says with a laugh — for a Wellington County Ale.

"It gives me that feeling that I’m drinking something very English in that situation, even if it’s not."

It’s also the beer he has drank at Cameron House (Spadina and Queen) with former Idol contestants Jacob Hoggard, now of Juno-nominated band Hedley, and Billy Klippert

The 46-year-old Winnipeg native runs 10 kilometres, four times per week. He says that and playing hockey give him an excuse to order a Creemore Springs lager. "It has some weight to it," he says of his delicious reward, which he switched to from Hacker-Pschorr lager.

Heineken is his nightclub beverage of choice, and the regular brew he shares with fellow judge Farley Flex when they go for beers.

They last went for a beer in St. John’s about three years ago. But there, "I drink a Guinness or a Kilkenny, a Smithwicks. It’s just that English, Scottish, Irish vibe with that place. You feel like you’re in a reinvented (area)."

The other judges, Jake Gold and Sass Jordan, are both wine drinkers, he says.

When in his hometown in Manitoba, he reaches for a Fort Garry Dark Ale.

At his farm in Northumberland County, its tradition for him to bring home a two-four of Molson buck-a-beer Bohemian.

But forget light beers. "I never drink light beer. I don’t understand it. It’s like eating skim-milk cheese. Or like lean corn beef. If you want to eat corn beef, order the (freaking) corn beef. You gotta order it with the fat." (See above face on right.)


A glass of Stiegl on the bar of the stube at Amadeus on Richmond Street.


German publicist Silke Rudelbach wants me, and you, to step into the stube and order German beers properly. She helped me out with the following terms.

To begin, "stube" (shtoo-beh) is a German pub, but it literally means "very cosy room."

Want a refreshing wheat beer? Then ask for a Paulaner (pow-lah-nare).

A drinkable Austrian favourite? With its steins on shelves all around the dark-wood dining hall, Stiegl (shtee-gull) is the pub’s best-seller, says bartender Kenny Woolings. Secondary? Go for a Gösser (guh-sahr).

Delicious German lager?

How about a Hacker-Pschorr (hacker-shore)? With all of the other refreshing blond beers, try a subtly sweet dark dunkel.

If you’re hungry, and don’t mind a heavy night, try the sausage platter ($18) with weisswurst with a burst of parsley, bratwurst, thüringer coil, sauerkraut and some potato wedges.

You can sit at one of the many traditional long tables, or do what I did — pony up to the bar and watch the hockey game on the TV.

After dinner, "we also have a lot of schnapps," Woolings says.

And if you’ve eaten too much sausage, Jagermeister is on hand, as well as 20-ml bottles of alleged cure-all Underberg, which has 44 per cent alcohol per volume.


If there’s one vegetable that is synonymous with the joys of European cuisine and beer, it’s the European white asparagus, the "white gold of Europe" which is grown in some of the continent’s beer strongholds.

And the celebration of those cooked snowy spears will begin at the White Asparagus Festivül from Wednesday until May 25 at The Bier Markt (Church and Esplanade).

Markt executive chef Michael Cipollo expects the most popular dish to be "the Ahi tuna, because of the seasonality." It’s served seared mid-rare with red jacket potatoes, red and yellow peppers, and sautéed spinach ($29; all prices before taxes).

Pair that with an 11-oz. glass of Delirium Tremens ale ($8.75) from Melle, Belgium.

But Cipollo’s favourite from his menu is the "Oscar" blue crab meat with citrus hollaindaise ($19).

Pair it with a 330-ml bottle of Christoffel lager ($7.75) from Leiden, The Netherlands.

"I really like the crispness of the lager," Cipollo says. "I find it really cuts through the richness of the Hollaindaise, complements the sweetness of the crab as well and the savoriness of the white asparagus."

See the recipe below; get your "white gold" at Pusateri’s and Summerhill Market.


Ahi Tuna and European White Asparagus (Serves 4)


  • 3 x 4 oz. portion of sushi grade Ahi tuna

  • 4 portions European White Asparagus (4-5 spears per portion)

  • 16 pc mini red potatoes

  • 1 red bell pepper, roasted, skin and seeds removed, diced

  • 1 green bell pepper, roasted, skin and seeds removed, diced

  • 4 cups baby spinach

  • 4 tbsp pesto oil (thin some pesto with a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

  • 5 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, to sauté

  • Sea Salt, to taste

  • White pepper, to taste

  • Caper berries to garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees

  2. Put red potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water, add a heavy pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cook for 12 minutes or until potatoes yield gently to the tip of a pairing knife. Set aside

  3. Toss red potatoes, roasted peppers, and 2 tbsp olive oil together. Season with salt and pepper and place in ovenproof baking dish. Cook for 15 minutes until tender.

  4. Bring a small pot of salted water to a simmer. Set aside as this will be used to reheat your prepared asparagus

  5. Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Season tuna steaks with salt and pepper as desired. Add 2 tbsp olive oil to pan, increase heat and sear tuna steak evenly on both side (estimate about 1-1/2 to 2 minutes per side for medium) remove from pan and set aside to rest for 4 minutes.

  6. Drop white asparagus into simmering salted water and heat for 2 minutes

  7. Immediately add 1 tbsp olive oil and baby spinach, quickly toss or stir the spinach until it just begins to wilt.

  8. Put wilted spinach on plate with white asparagus on top, serve with roasted potato and peppers, slice tuna into 3 - 4 pieces each and serve over white asparagus. Garnish with pesto oil and caper berries