Takumi; the Japanese concept of an Artisan who is a true master of their craft. This is a concept that Lexus has stayed true to since day one of their inception. Lexus wanted to do something a little different this time to communicate this message. They sent us on an adventure while experiencing the 2017 Lexus IS models (which are sexy AF) to meet the top Takumis of our city – essentially the MASTERS of their respective crafts, who tied back to Lexus’ core values:

  • Master of Hospitality (Omotenashi) – Le Germain Hotel
  • Master of Design (Brave Design) –  Ania Taubenfligel of Triachy Denim
  • Master of Cheese & Other Fine Foods (Takumi Craftsmanship) -– Afrim Pristine of Cheese Boutique
  • Master of Photography (Exhilarating Performance & Innovative Technology)- George Pimentel Photography
  • Master of Mixology (Takumi Craftsmanship) -– Simon Ho of Spirit of York
  • Master of Cuisine (Omotenashi) – Victor Barry of Café Cancan

 

MASTER OF HOSPITALITY – Le Germain Hotel

Our journey began in the lounge area of the upscale and intimate Le Germain Hotel, where we were served with an abundance of breakfast like delicacies such as made-to-order crepes and handcrafted quiches. The hotel is actually a partner of Lexus, offering complimentary Lexus car services and 24-hour concierge for the comfort of each and every guest. In addition to these services, the hotel exudes the concept of Omotenashi – the Japanese art of providing exceptional hospitality. And let me tell you, this is exactly what Lexus and Le Germain Hotel demonstrated to us throughout this curated adventure.

Yummy delicacies

Now, fast forward to the end of my journey where I had the luxury of staying overnight at one of their top suites. I must admit, my experience executed exceptional hospitality at its finest! Let me paint you a picture. First things first, you arrive at your suite with your luggage already there – huge convenience. The walls are covered in beautiful photography and there’s a clear window view of one of Toronto’s staples, the Air Canada Centre. The bathroom features a modern day stand-up shower with full glass walls. My favourite part about the room? The table in the main area has a concrete mount with colourful chalk that spells “Don’t be Afraid to be Yourself” (this is my quote by the way!).

Simple yet elegant room.

I enjoyed a relaxing night watching movies on the bed and had myself an incredible sleep (I swear the sheets had a thread count of like 10,000). Here’s the best part:

THERE ARE NO CHECK OUT TIMES!

 

MASTER OF DESIGN – Ania Taubenfligel of Triarchy Denim

The Master herself, Ania Taubenfligel, and yours truly.

Side note: If you don’t like denim, skip along… this post is not for you. Now, for those of us who love denim (which I’m hoping is the majority of us), did you know that today’s typical procedure in producing one pair of jeans consumes 73 litres of water? I’m definitely not a devoted tree hugger but the numbers are too staggering for me to ignore. Our first master, Triarchy Denim, a popular Canadian jean brand has completely changed their manufacturing process, whereby they use recycled water, drastically reducing their wastage and global footprint. They use 85 % less water than any other jean producer! This is a game changer, and an awesome initiative given today’s world and climate change conditions. Their hope is to inspire and lead the way for renewable denim production (I still like Zara but come on, they can definitely learn a thing or two from these guys). Stunning and impactful.

But that attention to detail though!

Now, you may ask how this relates to Lexus. Well, it does big time because Lexus is one of the leaders in the luxury car industry for having a very sustainable manufacturing process, from hand-made fabric stitching of their interior seats to their Lexus Hybrid Drive, which combines an advanced electric motor and strong gasoline engine providing not only the smoothest drive but efficient gas consumption. It also ties into one of Lexus’ core values: Brave Design, the idea that Lexus is constantly seeking exciting, bold and amazing outcomes with their design, similar to the bold risk that Triarchy took when they stopped production completely to change their manufacturing process. I’m not gonna lie, I felt pretty bold behind the steering wheel, especially when I had the Tiptronic turned on (man, that thing has like 8 speeds!)

 

MASTER OF CHEESE & OTHER FINE FOODS -– Afrim Pristine of Cheese Boutique

Little charcuterie platter made especially for us.

Question: How much do you think the largest block of cheese costs in the world? A whopping $80,000! I know, I found it hard to believe too. That is some crazy cash! The Cheese Boutique owns one of four of these blocks. Clearly, they are NOT messing around when it comes to cheese. Aside from this extravagant block of cheese, we were shown around their 10,000 sq. ft. establishment, by the owner, Afrim Pristine, whose heart I believe could well have been made out of cheese! We tasted the most divine cheeses, imported from all corners of the world, accompanied with delicious jambon, prosciutto, steak, and even homemade Gelato. I mean, if you like fine food, you will loooooove this place. I highly suggest checking out The Cheese Boutique for all you cheese lovers out there!

That cheese beside our master, Afrin, is $80,000.

Afrim’s dedication to creating a flawless experience and product is exactly why he was chosen as a master for this Lexus adventure. One the key reasons for Lexus’s leadership in their industry is their dedication to perfection. Lexus is serious about mastering their craft and owning up to the Takumi values. In order to reach this status, Lexus craftspeople must undergo various challenges. For example, they do a daily “origami cat test’ where they must fold an origami cat in under 90 seconds using their non-dominant hand. Hell, I can’t even do that with both hands…The purpose of this particular test is to master the attention to detail. Give this challenge a shot. If you can do it under 90 seconds, I’ll buy you a Lexus lol. Check out the details of the stitching in my photos, you’ll see what I’m talking about. We like to call these masters “Stitching Dojos”.

MASTER OF PHOTOGRAPHY – George Pimentel

 

The legend himself, George Pimentel.

George Pimentel; a man that exudes passion and inspires you to take your craft to the next level. We had the privilege of hearing about George’s incredible story which has lead him to be Canada’s most renowned celebrity photographer. While he tells his story with an inherent perma-smile, your eyes start wondering in awe seeing the black and white prints of his photos of famous celebrities from Brad Pitt to Prince William. If George isn’t at an event, then it’s probably not important.

One of George’s famous shots of Brad and Jen.

My biggest takeaway from George was this emerging confidence I received from implementing one of his inspiring theories; using your imagination to create a vision of success and as a result, making the right moves to eventually get there. Lexus lives up to this concept by not only predicting what type of features their customers will want but actually implementing these features today. From my perspective, they are the future. For example, their recent Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and Pre-Collision System is able to, in addition to holding a constant speed, adjust the speed based on the surrounding traffic. Pushing the boundaries of technology even further, their modern radar sensor is able to avoid or at least mitigate collision (predominantly, in speed ranges where collisions are likely to occur). Long story short, you can be sexy and safe!

 

MASTER OF MIXOLOGY – Simon Ho of Spirit of York

The master himself, Simon Ho.

Our fourth stop was at the Spirit of York where the Takumi of mixing, Simon Ho, gave us an insightful tour of the recently opened distillery. I must admit, things started getting extra fun here.

During this tour, in addition to getting LIT, we learned about Simon’s meticulous process of distilling vodka and gin to perfection. Both of their spirits are made of out 100 % rye and spring water in top class machinery. Each product is assembled on-site by fifth generation copper workers from Germany. If this doesn’t showcase Simon’s dedication to perfection, I urge to go have a taste yourself because you won’t be disappointed!

A picture I took at the distillery. Beautiful venue and interior design.

This tour was a live depiction of what it takes to create a perfect product. I would imagine Lexus’s assembly line would look somewhat similar. Results of this fine process are demonstrated in every part of the Lexus driving experience from the sexy interior & exterior design to the intuitive sport handling. I mean, their exterior design was even built to be aerodynamic and oddly enough, you could literally feel the effects of this small but impactful detail! The IS has got your back. All you need to do is get in the car, press the start button, relax and enjoy. I should note that after this stop, we had drivers take us to the next couple stops.

The exterior design is ON POINT.

MASTER OF CUISINE –Victor Barry of Café Cancan

Inside the beautiful Café Cancan.

This was our last spot and one where our socks were blown off due to the exceptional hospitality. Victor Barry, one of Toronto’s top chefs, took us for a dining adventure which was second to none; oysters and champagne to start, second course of white asparagus with morels, main course of mouth-watering duck, and finishing off with homemade ice cream. This vibrant little French Bistro was so beautifully put together that you would live there if you could!

Mouth-watering Duck.

The key lesson here was the concept of Omotenashi as described at the beginning of this post. Essentially,  it considers and addresses needs before they arise. It is the ultimate desire to ensure a flawless customer journey. Lexus embodies this concept in every aspect of their business. Like the details to every car they build, such as their 38 day, 67 labour-intensive manufacturing steps that are required to create their stunning steering wheel, they apply the same rigorous regiment standards to their customer care.

Contrast stitching on the steering wheel.

I want to thank Lexus for educating me and inspiring me to master my craft.

Always from the heart,

Reza Jackson

 

#LexusMasterClass #ExperienceAmazing #LexusIS

http://www.lexus.ca/lexus/en/is-experience

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