In a year of municipal politics where gravy was the enemy and weight-loss competitions made for regular-ish headlines, it would seem perfectly appropriate that Mayor Rob Ford be confectionarily immortalized. But few could have imagined that the most famous food-based representation of Mayor Ford would be a butter sculpture. Olenka Kleban, the 25-year-old artist who turned 230 kilograms of butter into a bust of Ford reading a Margaret Atwood book while leaning on a steering wheel, earned a ton of coverage when her work debuted at the CNE in August. Kleban’s cred in her particular dairy discipline is well established—she’s a three-time blue ribbon winner—so her marriage of subject and material was totally natural. As she explained in an interview with The Grid, “Rob Ford just had to be made in butter. He had to.” Even Ford recognized the genius in his buttery likeness, calling the sculptor “a real talent” when he popped by the CNE exhibit.
As such, we saw fit to include Kleban on the list for our second annual Mensch Awards—the 54 people (and one horse) who made the city a better place last year. Once we opened voting to the general public, Kleban came out as the clear winner for Mensch of the Year. She was followed by U of T assistant professor and green-roof innovator Liat Margolis, Revlon Canada’s nail expert, Leeanne Colley, Marty the Grey Cup horse, and Blue Jays’s wunderkind general manager, Alex Anthopoulos, who tied with Grey Cup-winning Argos Ricky Ray and Chad Owens. Thanks to everyone who voted.