The long-awaited Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants list has been released, and Vancouver literally topped it. We chatted with Jacob Richler, founding editor of Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants and an award-winning food columnist about that, and so much more. —Catherine Dunwoody
Hi Jacob! How did you choose the judges?
We have a hundred judges coast-to-coast. Some are chefs or restauranteurs. Others are food writers and food critics. We also have a large segment of passionate, informed diners who eat at the best restaurants they can find as often as possible. I’ve been a food writer for over 25 years so a lot of them are people I’ve known through my work. Others are recommended or just volunteer. Some are winners of a contest we launched a couple of years ago and just relaunched, wherein you send us an email describing a dish you’re passionate about … and if we find it convincing, we let you on the panel.
What was Vancouver’s Published On Main’s immediate reaction to topping the 100 list?
Chef Gus Steiffenhoffer-Brandson’s first exclamation was … inappropriate for print. We took it to mean that he was surprised, slightly overwhelmed, and very pleased.
Any real surprises that made the list?
It was great to see a modest little sushi bar like Tetsu do so well (I’m a fan). Oca Pastificio really hit out of the park to debut at #23—but I gather they hit it out of the park on the plate, too (I’ll be popping by to try it myself in early July). Baan Lao in Richmond has earned fans quickly. Vancouver has an unusually vibrant culinary scene.
What new trends in culinary seemed popular with the judges? Any trends they are done with?
People always have their eye on what’s new but there are some venerable institutions that continue to do well, like Canoe and Rover Café, both in the top 10. And what places like that have in common, aside from quality, is really a strong commitment to local product and advancing a vision of Canadian cuisine. The same is true for the new restaurants on the list–like Mon Lapin and our new #1, Published on Main. Consumers and our judges really respond to these focused culinary visions that are rooted in place, well-expressed and smartly executed. Canadian cuisine is charting its own course and the restaurant scene looks amazingly vibrant–especially given its challenges.
Can you list the top three bars from the 50 Best list?