The 26th Annual Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards just took place at the Sheraton Wall Centre. It was a wonderful afternoon of sampling bites prepared by the best of Vancouver’s chefs as well as sampling great BC wines to accompany them. Vancouver is home to over 500 restaurants and half of these were nominated for awards. Seventeen judges were tasked with an enormous undertaking. From 1,075 dishes, they determined 240 winners in 50 categories.
Vancouver is blessed to have so many experienced chefs who have traveled the world learning their craft and bring with them a breadth of experience. Pair this with new young enthusiastic cooks who are eager to create something new. It is no wonder we have so many top-notch restaurants in the city.
The best of these were all in attendance for the VanMag awards. For the first two hours, everyone mingled sampling food and wines while a knife skills competition, emceed by Vikram Vij and DJ Kearney, took place in another room. In addition to the food and wine, there were displays featuring food suppliers and equipment vendors. A quick look around the room media – wine writers, food writers, restaurateurs, and food industry personal were all there. Soon it was on to the awards presentation.
Editor-in-Chief, John Burns talked about Vancouver Magazine’s new web site, which includes over 800 restaurant reviews and publishes an annual list of the top 100 wines. In May, Vancouver Magazine will feature their annual International Craft Beer Awards.
After his opening remarks, CBC radio hosts Gloria Macarenko and Stephen Quinn presented the forty-nine gold medals. Interspersed with the awards were some short video clips, which included one where restaurateurs read negative reviews from social media. What a hoot!
Here is a short list of some of the winners:
Best New Restaurant – Ask For Luigi
Best Pizza – Nicli Antica Pizzeria
Best Seafood – Blue Water Café + Raw Bar
Best Steakhouse – Hy’s Encore
Best Upscale – Hawksworth
Best Upscale French – Le Crocodile
Best Upscale Italian – Cioppino’s
Best Winery / Vineyard Dining – Miradoro
Best Food Cart – Tacofino
Best Other Vancouver Island – Tofino’s Wolf in Fog
Thomas Haas was named Pastry Chef of the Year
Supplier of the Year – Vancouver Island Sea Salt
Sommelier of the Year, Bryant Mao of Hawksworth
Bartender of the Year – Lauren Mote of Uva at the Four Seasons. How nice that she was presented with this award on her birthday. The packed room all sang Happy Birthday to her.
Chef of the Year – Vikram Vij, who owns three restaurants, Vij’s, Rangoli Grill and My Shanti in south Surrey.
Lifetime Achievement Award was given to David Aisenstat of the Keg chain of restaurants as well as Gotham and Joe Fortes among other interests.
Ingredient of the Year? Octopus, yes, octopus!
The Mentorship Award went to Chef Bruno Marti of La Belle Auberge in Ladner (1980 – 2012). There was a video presentation featuring many Chefs who had learned from him. All chefs have to learn somewhere and most spend time working for and under an established chef. Many Vancouver chefs have done their apprentices under Chef Bruno. Several of them spoke lovingly of their time with him and his devotion to them, becoming in many cases a father figure. There was a standing ovation for this incredible teacher.
After the awards, people gathered in the lobby for a sampling of craft beers. My absolute favourite was Fat Tug IPA from Driftwood Brewing of Victoria.
For a complete list of winners and many extra features, check out their web site at http://vanmag.com/.