Awards show celebrates first-ever Chinese Restaurant of the Year; Joël Watanabe named Chef of the Year
At yesterday’s Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards, Dynasty Seafood became the first-ever Chinese restaurant to win the coveted Restaurant of the Year title. During the 28th annual addition of the awards show, 41 gold awards were handed out, as the industry’s top talent gathered to celebrate their own.
“Though Vancouver is renowned for having the best Chinese food outside of China, there has often been a disconnect between Chinese restaurants and non-Chinese diners. Dynasty Seafood has changed all that,” said Neal McLennan, Food Editor, Vancouver Magazine. “Chef Sam Leung has bridged the gap like no other, by reaching out to non-Chinese diners without compromising the integrity of his traditional dishes. We are thrilled to celebrate Dynasty Seafood, and all the talented teams who took home Restaurant Awards this year.”
Chef of the Year honours went to Joël Watanabe. The award recognizes the triumph of Watanabe’s refined fusion style which Vancouverites have come know, first through his modernized Chinese-French menu at Bao Bei, and now through his Japanese-Italian menu at Kissa Tanto. “Humming with clarity,” “honesty,” and “elegance,” is how the judges described Watanabe’s food. Kissa Tanto also picked up gold in the Best Pan-Asian and Best Design categories.
Fraserhood favourite, Savio Volpe, celebrated top honours in the Best New Restaurant category. This year’s show saw the addition of several new categories, including Best Brunch (Café Medina), Best Sushi (Zest), Best Vegan/Vegetarian (The Acorn), Best Bakery (Thomas Haas), and Best Pacific Northwest (Royal Dinette).
There were surprise upsets in some categories, with CinCin taking Best Italian and My Shanti winning Best Indian. Meanwhile, Hawksworth once again defended its Best Upscale Restaurant title, and Le Crocodile and Maenam repeated for Best French and Best Thai respectively. Best Latin saw La Mezcaleria and newcomer, El Santo, tie for first place. Around the province, Araxi took Best Whistler, Agrius won Best Victoria, and Waterfront Wines was named Best Okanagan.
Uva’s Sabrine Dhaliwal took home Bartender of the Year; L’Abattoir’s Lisa Haley was named Sommelier of the Year; Pemberton’s North Arm Farm won the Producer/Supplier Award; and Sid and Joan Cross were honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award. For five decades, Sid, an oenophile, and Joan, a cookbook editor, have sought out and celebrated the local culinary pioneers who have changed the way we eat and drink. Together, they’ve promoted the region’s up-and-coming city talent to chefs, winemakers, and producers throughout the world.