It’s no secret that Canada is home to some of the best restaurants in the world. With so much talent on display from coast to coast, it’s almost hard to believe Jacob Richler, Editor in Chief of Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants, embarked upon the task of compiling such a comprehensive list of the best that the country has to offer.
The magazine offers a unique perspective on the traditionally subjective approach to the dining experience that a single critic might take. The intention was to create a publication that polls the opinions of the best critics in Canada as well as the dining public.
“There are many lists, as we know, but we really wanted to create something that would become a go-to,” said Geoffrey Dawe, publisher of Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants.
“We created a panel of 72 judges across the country. [We] went to known leaders in the food industry like Mark McEwan, Donna Dooher, and Lynn Crawford, and asked them what they thought, and they believed we should start waving our own flag,” said Dawe.
The goal of the magazine is to explore all the changes taking place in food, making note of who is really innovating and doing it well. The judging panel, comprised of leading chefs, informed writers and passionate foodies, vote blindly, confidentially, and objectively, ensuring the results are unbiased and a true representation of the best of the best in Canada.
With the second annual edition set to hit newsstands March 1, there is a lot of excitement around this year’s ranking, as several great restaurants have made the list for a second time.
Though, according to Richler “a lot of new restaurants [are] nipping at the heels of more established places – and often pushing them right out of the way in their march up the charts.”
This is definitive validation of the careful process that the judges take towards evaluating the restaurants. “It’s a great list – a really accurate measure of quality, coast-to-coast, over a year in dining time.”
When asked about noticeable trends within the 2016 edition, Richler points out the “rise of the vegetable,” and “imaginative new vegetable cooking from smart chefs who know that vegetables are as well equipped for the spotlight and centre stage as is any piece of meat or fish,” praising Pigeon Hole in Calgary, Vin Papillon and Hotel Herman in Montreal, as well as Dandylion – and the new menu at Nota Bene – in Toronto.
“This is a list peers pay attention to,” said Chef Geoff O’Connor of Toronto’s Nota Bene.
Indeed, the 100 Best list has garnered much attention, from industry insiders to the dining public. While every restaurant in the issue is worthy of high praise, the 10 restaurants that made the top of the list are:
2. Buca Yorkville
3. Hawksworth Restaurant
4. Joe Beef
5. Le Vin Papillon
9. Bar Raval
10. Bar Isabel
Landing two spots on this coveted list is Toronto chef Grant van Gameren with Bar Raval and Bar Isabel.
“We have had such an intense year taking on what we have and to be awarded along side such prestigious restaurants that we love and look up is a true honour. It validates the hard work of our over 100 staff. Having this recognition and being amongst these peers is amazing!” explains van Gameren.
Without a doubt, Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants has become what Dawe and Richler initially intended it to be and more, as this year’s judges are as diverse and noteworthy as the food. The 2016 judges include Chefs Susur Lee, David McMillan, Jesse Vergen, and Connie deSousa, restauranteur Jeremy Bonia, foodies such as Jason Priestly and Geddy Lee, journalist Alexandra Gill, wine industry expert Angela Aiello, and culinary industry expert Paul Alsop.
Finally, in addition to the 100 ranking, readers will see returning special recognitions as well as some new awards which were presented at this year’s Restaurants Canada Show on February 29th.
MOST INNOVATIVE CHEF: Justin Leboe (Calgary)
(sponsored by Samuel Adams and was given by Afrim Pristine from Toronto’s Cheese Boutique)
BEST NEW RESTAURANT: Alo (Toronto)
BEST RESTAURANT DESIGN: Bar Raval (Toronto)
THE INFLUENCER 2016: Daniel Boulud
In recognition of his incredible successes in advancing the cause and raising the bar for l’art culinaire around the globe and in particular here in Canada.
With so many great places to eat in Canada, this year is certainly one for the books.
Click here to find out more about Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants and who made the final cut.