Lifetime Achievement Award 2012

Blessed with spectacular local ingredients and a food-obsessed Asian population, you might think that great Chinese food would simply happen in Vancouver. But it takes dedicated, talented restaurateurs and chefs to turn raw materials into world-class cuisine. In 1987 Kimble Chan, a former social worker with a background in human resources, made an important decision. He and business partner Nelson Yeung opened Kirin Mandarin Restaurant on Alberni Street, in the heart of the downtown business district, signalling that Chinese food could move beyond the confines of Chinatown and be an integral part of Vancouver’s dining, business, and social scenes. Chan understood that dining out is much more than just a plate of food-that it’s about a relationship between restaurant and diner built on long-term trust, respect, and genuine warmth. Yeung’s experience in the Hong Kong restaurant industry brought business savvy to the mix, and the room they opened continues to set impeccably high standards for food, service, and décor; a benchmark for the industry, it drives a level of excellence in Chinese fine dining not seen outside greater China. Much as Umberto Menghi, Hidekazu Tojo, and Vikram Vij moved their respective cuisines from easy ethnic clichés to sophisticated dining that embraces locality and seasonality, the Kirin group has long shaped the direction of local Chinese cuisine. It’s this unrelenting drive for excellence over a quarter century that earned Kimble Chan, Nelson Yeung, and the Kirin Restaurant Group our Lifetime Achievement Award.