Editor’s Note, May 2009

Restaurants and magazines have much in common. Both are started by optimists. Both are staffed by people who work long hours because they love what they do. Both rely entirely on the support of the communities they serve. When the sun shines, both pop up everywhere. When times get tough, the weak ones don’t make it. Times have been very tough, and in recent months hundreds of magazines across North America have ceased publication and thousands of restaurants have closed their doors. In both fields, survival demands a sound business model, deep roots, and steadfast commitment.

This issue marks our 20th restaurant awards, and it’s no exaggeration to say that Vancouver magazine and the city’s culinary industry have grown up together. The first awards—which included both a judged category and a readers’ choice popularity vote—were handed out to a couple of dozen chefs and restaurateurs by Malcolm Parry, the editor at the time, at the magazine’s offices, then on Cambie Street. This year’s will be held, as they have been since 2003, at the Sheraton Wall Centre, where some 800 industry members will turn out to eat, drink, gossip, and learn which rooms our judges have deemed worthy of recognition in 43 different categories.

Each year we refine the judging process, seeking to make it more objective, transparent, and fair. This year, we tweaked some of the categories to better reflect the mix of rooms in the city. We engaged a chartered accountant at Pricewaterhouse­Coopers in Calgary to tabulate the votes. Also this year, the judges moved up the deadline for inclusion from year end to November 30. New restaurants take many weeks to smooth out the kinks, and it’s unfair to compare a room that’s just opened to those that have functioned for many months. It’s also impossible, in the busy holiday season, to get all 19 judges into new rooms on multiple occasions. As a result, spots that opened in December—among them Lumière, DB Bistro Moderne, Campagnolo, and Regional Tasting Lounge—will be considered in their respective “best new” categories (as well as in the others for which they qualify) at next year’s awards.

As you’ll see from this year’s results—2008 brought unprecedented challenge and change to the restaurant industry. Just as it did to those of us who work in magazines.