2018 was a banner year!
Once again the bar has been raised by the chefs of Canada in the annual University of Guelph Good Food Innovation Awards. The calibre of this year’s menus was absolutely outstanding! The depth and breath of our chefs’ commitment to the producers of Canada was the finest ever. (We DID trend at #1 on Twitter across the nation as we lit the CN Tower!) What pleases us so much is how many new Gold Award winners there are this year, men and women who can stand on any culinary stage in the world and how many others are returning. The reach of Food Day Canada is expanding and it seems that, if a restaurant is to be truly competitive, it needs to honour local ingredients and the producers who grow and harvest them!
The new members of this elite group join many veterans who’ve made top notch local offerings the cornerstone of their menus. All the categories are filled with culinary game-changers. Check the links to each menu and then challenge anyone who says Canada does not have it’s own vibrant food scene. We rock!
GOLD AWARDS 2018
These are our premier awards. The University of Guelph and President/Vice-Chancellor Dr. Franco Vaccarino annually host the new winners, showcasing the highlights of the culinary research that positions the school as “Canada’s Food University.” From there, these chefs make their way to Manhattan to cook at the James Beard House (that’s Jason Bangerter of Langdon Hall on the right), a testament to both their talent and their commitment. The 2017 award winners will be there on May 22nd, 2019.
Let’s begin in British Columbia where From Scratch, A Mountain Kitchen in Fairmont Hot Springs has been a perennial Silver Award winner and now claims Gold. Chef Lee Cooper of L’Abattoir is Vancouver’s newest winner in that city while over on Vancouver Island, Chef Ronald St. Pierre presented a gorgeous menu at Locals in Courtney. Near Kelowna, Chef & Forager Aman Dosanj’s pop up restaurant Paisley Notebook used 100% ingredients from Canada.
Once again Ontario had a very strong showing. We saw Abruzzi Restaurant in London with Chef /Owner Dave Lamers at the helm and Marc Lepine’s Atelier in Ottawa join the circle. Chef/Owner Ryan Crawford of backhouse in Niagara on the Lake is long overdue for this award. In Toronto, two new-to-Food Day restaurants and their chefs will be honoured…the CN Tower & Restaurant 360’, the purview of Chef John Morris and another downtown favourite Le Sélect Bistro which is the domaine of Executive Chef Laura Maxwell
It’s great to see Fogo Island Inn and Executive Chef Jonathan Gushue claim Gold. The inn is known globally as a game-changer for both hospitality and tourism and with Gushue in the kitchen, it’s hit its stride in culinary excellence.
VETERAN GOLD INDUCTEES 2018
Back again this year are Kelowna-based restaurants RauDZ Regional Table and Chef Mark Filatow’s Waterfront Wines Restaurant. Whistler’s Fairmont Chateau Whistler where Executive Chef Isabel Chung and Chef Derek Bendig held a full-on celebration of Canadian cuisine across the entire property.
Once again Calgary’s Galesa Aden of Deane House (owner Sal Howell) join River Cafe (Sal Howell & Chef Matthias Fong). Milton Rebello and Louise Lu, a husband and wife team, from Regina are known over the city for Rebello Cooking Studio and Skye Bistro.
A veteran of Ontario’s food scene; Todd Clarmo, led Bauer Kitchen to its second win as did Eric Neaves of Kitchener’s Fork and Cork Grill. Few restaurants have been so immersed in the produce of Niagara as Treadwell Farm to Table Restaurant in downtown Niagara on the Lake. Ottawa’s Fauna Restaurant is once again on the Gold list as are Langdon Hall Country House Hotel, Miijidaa Cafe + Bistro and The Restaurant at Redstone.
In Quebec, Manoir Hovey’s Le Hatley Restaurant, Les Jardins Sauvages in St. Roch de L’Achigan and Les Jardins de Metis / Reford Gardens on the glorious south St. Lawrence all served forth regional cuisine that was so specific to their areas that it would be most difficult to replicate their individual menus in another area of the Province.
Moncton’s Little Louis’ Oyster Bar and Rossmount Country Inn in the seaside town of St. Andrew’s are once again being honoured. As Rossmount Chef Chris Aerni writes, “Food Day Canada represents what we really believe in and try to live up to every day.”
Chef Roary MacPherson, a long time supporter and participant in Food Day has brought The Wilds Golf and Country Club in Holyrood, Newfoundland on board with his down home country menu.
SILVER AWARDS 2018
Like the Gold Awards, there are many who’ve returned and some new chefs/restaurants who have been added. In Whistler there’s Araxi while on the magnificent north coast embedded in the Great Bear Rainforest, Nimmo Bay‘s chef have to be among the most resourceful in the nation. Not to be outdone for remote island cooking, Executive Chef Lukas Gurtner created a tasting menu on Sonora Island Resort with local food and ideas from his Rélais et Chateaux colleagues across the nation including Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge, a five-star outpost near Tofino where the mantra is ‘luxury gone wild’ and The Wickaninnish’s (magical) Pointe Restaurant.
Vancouver’s Dosanko does a stellar job of blending Japanese flavours with B.C.’s best ingredients including a delightful flight of local sakes.
Rouge Restaurant and Chef Paul Rogalski have been part of Food Day Canada for years. It’s great to see another lovely menu from this iconic Calgary restaurant.
A trio of Neighbourhood Group restaurants all garnered silver…Borealis Kitchener; Borealis Guelph and The (venerable) Wooly, a pub that all of Guelph knows as THE place to gather for a beer and a burger. It’s casual, fun dining much like Niagara on the Lake’s Garrison House, Toronto’s Indie Ale House and Fergus, Ontario’s Scozia at The Breadalbane Inn that will all sport silver awards for 2018.
Soif Bar à Vin de Véronique Rivest in Gatineau, Quebec is THE weekend hot spot. During the week you’ll see locals and Ottawa folks who’ve slipped over the bridge to this beautifully warm wine bar.
Delta Moncton’s great Windjammer Restaurant is the final New Brunswick rep on this awards roster. The dining room is a once in a lifetime experience! Also in Atlantic Canada Canteen represents Dartmouth, Nova Scotia and should be on everyone’s list when heading to Nova Scotia.
Spread across the nation are restaurants that deserve to be mentioned for both their philosophy and execution of Canadian cuisine.
And similarly in Calgary Executive Chef Quinn Staple oversees three restaurants with style and an eye to Prairie ingredients – Oxbow in the Hotel Arts Kensington, Raw Bar and the Yellow Door Bistro both in the Hotel Arts in downtown Calgary.
Congratulations to ALL the chefs and their teams who work so hard to feed us all. Whether it’s high cuisine or pub food, we here in Canada can be very proud of our great Northern Bounty!