We Just Lost a Giant of Our Food Scene

Cheers to you, Andrew Morrison

Every so often I have a panic attack that there exists some internet tracking tool that shows how often my IP address visits Scout.

Like so many else in our field I visit the site, founded by Andrew Morrison and his wife Michelle Sproule, to find out what’s going on in the industry but also for a zillion other things and people that Andrew fostered. Like, for example, who’s in Sean Orr’s sublime crosshairs this week? (Please don’t let it be VanMag, please don’t let it be VanMag). And Michelle’s beautiful textured photos of this city, and who’s listening to what music, and on and on and on.

All of which I devour with a mix or glee and panic—half enjoying how good it is, and half freaking out as to how we could ever keep pace. It truly is a community.

All of us at VanMag were gutted by the news of Andrew’s passing. He was a longtime Restaurant Awards judge at the same time I was, and now that I run the program, I can say that I’m confident that he possessed the greatest bullshit detector in the history of the Awards. (Here’s his take on a rowdy edition of the Awards on 2011).

He, like everyone else, had restaurants and bars that had a special place in his heart, but none of those places ever wormed their way in by making sure he had truffles shaved atop a comped dinner. A mainstay at media dinners, he was not. His knowledge of the industry was intimidating: he had walked the walk as a server himself, and had deep friendships and connections throughout the province to show for it. 

His insight was so valuable that the editors at the time kept him as a judge even after Scout launched—a feared but respected competitor on the food publication front— because not to have him would have been unthinkable when assembling the best minds in the industry. He also wrote for us, wonderfully and at length. Not that long ago in the teeth of the Covid turmoil I found myself lost in his 2009 piece on restaurants surviving that downturn, and felt better.

In her piece on Andrew, Michelle asked: Rather than ‘share’ the news of Andrew’s death on social media, we encourage you to go to a local and independently owned restaurant, brewery, bar or café and raise a glass in his honour. That’s the way Andrew would have wanted it. I hope we’re not violating that here, but we also couldn’t be more inspired by the sentiment. We’re not here to do a one-line “RIP Andrew Morrison” on Twitter and Insta, and other mediums whose engineered brevity are altogether lacking when it comes to even the shadow of a remembrance for someone like Andrew.

I’ve shamelessly “borrowed” Michelle’s photo of him below as it’s just perfect, and I can assure it’s not the first time we borrowed a photo from Scout (nor will it be the last). Finally, a Go Fund Me page has been set up in Andrew’s honour, to allow his family to properly grieve while helping out with bills and rent and ongoing costs. It honours one of the good guys and if it helps Scout continue to be part of our cultural fabric then it’s a bargain no matter how much you can give.