Restaurant Awards 2023: Meet the Judges

Who judges the VanMag restaurant awards?

It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it (really—judging the incredible restaurants in Vanmag’s Restaurant Awards is no easy task). Lucky for us, our expert panel of judges are up for the challenge.

The Judges of the 2023 Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards

Joie Alvaro Kent co-authored Where the River Narrows and Maenam: A Fresh Approach to Thai Cooking. She is Vancouver’s senior judge for the Canadian Culinary Championships, and has written for NUVO, Sweet Potato and Eater.

Hussain Askari grew up in the UAE, studied wine in Australia and has been in the Vancouver wine trade for the past decade. He is the director of operations for Wine Vault.

Gail Johnson is an award-winning journalist who has covered Vancouver’s food and dining community for the last 20 years, including five as food columnist for CBC Radio. She is co-founder of Stir, an online magazine dedicated exclusively to local arts and culture, including culinary arts, dining and wine.

Anya Levykh is a writer, editor and host of The Nosh radio show, covering the people, places and issues behind what we eat and drink.

Lee Man is a founding judge for the Chinese Restaurant Awards and a longtime contributor to Vancouver, Montecristo and other magazines.

Brendon Mathews is a freelance food writer with expertise in Chinese cuisine, and a judge of the Chinese Restaurant Awards.

Mijune Pak is an international food and travel personality, Food Network Canada entertainer, judge on Top Chef Canada and Iron Chef Canada and host of Michelin Vancouver.

Tim Pawsey writes and shoots at, and for Quench, Taste, Vitis, Edible Vancouver Island and @hiredbelly.

Iris Yim is an experienced editor who has worked in both Hong Kong and Vancouver. She writes about travel and gourmet dining for EliteGen, Boulevard,, her blog Gourmet Vancouver and more.

Rasoul Salehi is a wine-industry veteran, a certified Spanish wine educator and a managing partner at LaStella Winery. He has an everlasting passion for the study of all things gastronomy.

Sylvia Potvin is the owner of Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, Vancouver’s premier professional culinary education training centre.

Joanne Sasvari is the editor of YAM, Vitis and The Alchemist magazines, and contributes to Food & Wine, Shondaland and Destination BC.  She is the author of the IACP Award-shortlisted Wickaninnish Cookbook and forthcoming Okanagan Eats, as well as the culinary memoir Paprika.

Jacob Sweetapple is an award-winning bartender and managing partner at Notion Concepts, where he aims to elevate drinking culture around the world through innovative beverage ideation and education.

Mia Stainsby is the longtime restaurant critic at the Vancouver Sun and Province newspapers.

Lindsay William-Ross is the managing editor of Vancouver Is Awesome and the lifelong foodie behind V.I.A.’s “Forking Awesome” newsletter and TikTok. She was previously the food editor of Daily Hive, senior editor of Vancity Buzz and editor-in-chief of