The Farmer's Apprentice swept the board yesterday at the 25th annual Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards. In a hot room in the basement of the Sheraton Wall Centre Hotel, crammed to the gills with day-tipsy industry folk, there was a definite sense of the torch passing from the old guard to the new as chef David Gunawan took to the podium three times to accept awards for Best New Restaurant, Best Casual Restaurant and - snatching victory from Hawksworth who won Best Upscale - the ultimate accolade of Best Restaurant.
A long-overdue Bartender of the Year award went to Donnelly Group's Jay Jones, winning the loudest cheers of the day.
There were, of course, a few surprises, greatest of all, that Zest won the Best Upscale Japanese; a gong that's traditionally gone to Tojo's. The biggest complaints of the event seemed to be about the Best Neighbourhood category which squashed Gastown and Chinatown together into one area, threw upscale and chain restaurants like Hawksworth and Cactus Club into the mix, left out big names and amalgamated Kits, Mount Pleasant and Main into one giant Best West Side category. As one bartender repeated bellowed at us last night, 'would you call Hawksworth a neighbourhood restaurant?' Probably not. Still, it's the first time the category has run and its author, ex-food editor Rebecca Philps left for a new job in Toronto so could not see the process through so perhaps things will change next year. But what successful award show doesn't create a healthy dash of rage in those who didn't win and delight the rest of us with a few surprises?
The party continued with champagne at Blue Water Cafe and cocktails, wine, beer and barbecue at JOEY's. Eater suggests that you be kind to your servers and chefs today if dining out; they may not be at their brightest. Eater photographer Tallulah Tallulah was on hand to capture the action. · Vancouver Magazine 2014 Awards [Official Site]
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