Call it your first, best bargain of 2012, if you like. Or your ticket to international dining. Or the chance to welcome the new year as part of a great community. Or the mayor's levee. Mayor Jeff Lehman launches his inaugural New Year's Day Brunch & Levee this Sunday.

Barrie's City Hall Rotunda will offer a gracious dining buffet brunch on New Year's Day, and it's in aid of welcoming 2012 AND supporting United Way.

It didn't start out to be an international affair but when organizer Robin Munro called Marco Ormonde from The North Restaurant, this superb chef of Portugese birth was first to offer a breakfast buffet lineup. And then Scott Connor, who's worked at restaurants globally and owns the Local Gastro Pub, lined up to add his culinary expertise.

Then it made sense to call Yar and Nur Mohammad from Tara Authentic Indian Cuisine and the brothers promised to bring an Indian flavour to the New Year's buffet. Now the brunch is growing in international flavour... so why not add Italy? Why not, indeed. And Rita Fuda from The Italian Bakery promised to bring a huge variety of fresh baking and cheese as well as delectable Italian food. And so how about France? Olga's Creperie, normally a mobile facility at the Farmer's market, will be right at home in the Rotunda where Olga Walton cooks a variety of breakfast crepes in the same location every Saturday at the Farmer's Market.

With excellent food presented by these chefs, Big Chris BBQ Smokehouse offered to provide bar service (at $10 for two drinks) and Catering by Rose stepped up to supply cutlery, plates, linen etc.

And so, the mayor's levee gives you the opportunity to dine across the world, right here in Barrie. At $25 per person, it's not to be missed. The event can accommodate 135 people at each of two sittings and tickets must be purchased ahead of time.

Tickets are available today, tomorrow and Saturday during normal operating hours at the MacLaren Art Centre on Mulcaster St.

Breakfast brunch sittings are at 11 am and 12:45 pm.

This event is also a fundraiser for United Way... a true win, win, win. It's also a great extension to the downtown new Year's Eve celebrations planned for Barrie residents and free of charge. Events include snow fun for kids, an early countdown for wee ones, music and fireworks as the clock strikes midnight.

Mayor Jeff Lehman also will preside at his complimentary New Year's Day Levee, and it begins at 2:30 pm and is open to the general public with tea and coffee provided.

What a great beginning to what we all hope is a fruitful, peaceful year ahead!

Happy New Year!

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