Editor’s Note, June 2010

June 1, 2010

The restaurant business is always one of ups and downs, but the recession and the Olympics combined to make the past year a stomach-churning roller coaster. Casualties were many, staff turnover was brisk, rebrandings were common. Through it all, our 19 Restaurant Awards judges dined out, sized up, and took notes. Their efforts become visible with this issue, but the process actually began last summer, when they convened for a preliminary luncheon. Ground rules were reiterated, a few category descriptions were refined, and judging for our 21st Annual Restaurant Awards officially got under way.

Here’s how it worked. For purposes of the awards, the year runs from December 1 to the following November 30. In major categories (Restaurant of the Year, for example) each of the judges voted; in specialized categories (Best Korean, for instance) four or five of the most qualified judges did the legwork. A preliminary ranking of all eligible restaurants in a given category yielded a shortlist of 10 rooms. We then asked our judges to do a second round of assessment, ranking the finalists in order. Independently, they submitted their ratings directly to our accountant in Calgary. Jill McKenzie—a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers—tabulated the scores to determine the top three vote-getters in each category. These became our Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners. It’s the most transparent, fair, and reliable process I’m aware of, since it avoids both the “people’s choice” pitfall (Best French Fries: McDonald’s) and the risk of a single judge allowing personal ties to taint objectivity.

We take the judging process seriously because we know that restaurants take the awards seriously. Winners see a spike in bookings, and many rooms that don’t make the grade resolve to do better next year. And we know that our readers pay close attention all year long, because the majority of visits to Vanmag.com each month involve a search in our Eating + Drinking categories.

We’re lucky to live in a city blessed with a splendid range of dining options, and the “Restaurant Awards,” are meant, above all, to celebrate our good fortune. For this year’s winners, turn to page 65.VM

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