May 2, 2011
Maybe it's a consequence of trade instability (and our desire for illusions of the opposite): our judging panel singled out industry veterans for this year's Premier Crew award, each of them exemplifying diligence and finesse at the table. Sahara Tamarin of Ulla in Victoria's Chinatown and Paul Grunberg of Gastown's L'Abattoir found immediate success with their newly opened, idiosyncratic rooms. That success comes as much from their talent for putting guests at ease as from their impressive CVs. (Tamarin's last Vancouver gig was shepherding staff at Cibo, while Grunberg has been GM at Chambar, Market, and Bao Bei.) Joining them on the hospitality podium is the manager of Campagnolo's back bar, Giovanni Giardino-whom we celebrate as an exemplar of quiet affability and superior product knowledge (not to mention as a maker of perfect Negronis)-and the under-sung GM at Vij's, Mike Bernardo, who not only meets, greets, and runs a no-reservations room with disarming insouciance, but also sports excellent, if eccentric, footwear. (Few can pull off silver wingtips.) Owen Knowlton, wine director at West, was honoured with Sommelier of the Year at this year's Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival.