Renowned chefs now Top 50 resto judges


The Willow on Wascana has received several votes from the public for the 2013 Top 50 Restaurants in Canada. The Regina, Saskatchewan establishment with splendid views did not make the 2012 rankings but could benefit from a revamped voting structure that adds more judges from across the country. (Julia Pelish/

Report by Staff


Jeremy Charles, the executive chef and co-owner of Raymonds, is one of the judges for the 2013 Top 50 Restaurants in Canada Guide. (Julia Pelish/

The best restaurants in Canada will be determined by some of the nation’s most outstanding chefs, announced today.

Jeremy Charles of acclaimed Raymonds in St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador, and Terry Pichor of Relais & Chateaux’s Sonora Resort in British Columbia are among the food industry professionals teaming up with to name the 2013 Top 50 Restaurants in Canada in April.

“As a chef, I understand the hard work and sacrifice that goes into creating award-winning, world-class cuisine and service. To have ask me to be a judge for the Top 50 Restaurants in Canada is a privilege as I know how much it means to restaurant owners and employees to be recognized among the best in the country,” Pichor says.

The 33-member voting academy also features: Travis Champion, owner of Montreal’s L’Orignal and Le Gros Jambon, and the soon-to-open Magdalen; Quebec City-based food and travel writer Marie Asselin; Stephen Lee, sommelier and co-owner of the highly anticipated Mallard Cottage, opening this year in St. John’s; Rebecca LeHeup, Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance‘s executive director; and Nova Scotia chef and food writer Renée Lavallée.

“The addition of such talented and celebrated food industry professionals moves us much closer to accomplishing the aim of recognizing the very best in Canadian dining,” said Janine MacLean, the Chair of the Top 50 Restaurants in Canada Guide. “We have five regions across the country this year, guaranteeing a breadth of coverage that’s sure to pinpoint the best places to eat for citizens and visitors to Canada.”

In April 2012, became the first publication to ever produce a ranking of the nation’s top restaurants, garnering attention from around the globe.

“From its inception, the goal of the Top 50 Restaurants in Canada has been to celebrate the nation’s food industry, and to do it democratically. It would be obnoxious for any publication to ever promote a restaurant ranking determined by only one or two potentially biased selectors — especially when social media allows for more inclusiveness in the 21st century,” says Managing Editor Adrian Brijbassi, who initiated the first national ranking of Canada’s restaurants in 2012. “With the participation of leading members of the nation’s food industry and even more votes from the public than last year, we are many steps closer to perfecting our annual guide.”

All Canadians Can Vote for Their Favourite Restaurant

The awards also feature a People’s Choice category determined by public voting. Votes from the public are added to the judges’ selections. To vote for your favourite Canadian restaurant, email by April 15, 2013. Early leaders in the public voting include: Atelier, last year’s People’s Choice winner from Ottawa; Montreal’s renowned Joe Beef; Fredericton, New Brunswick favourite the Blue Door; and Willow on Wascana in Regina, Saskatchewan.

best-50-restaurants-in-canada-logoThis year, one Canadian from the general public will be chosen as the Canadian Foodie of the Year and receive a grand prize that includes dinner at the Top 50 restaurant of his or her choice, including round-trip airfare and a hotel stay.

Other awards will be given to the nation’s top female chef, best food truck and best First Nations restaurant. The 2013 Top 50 Restaurants in Canada Guide will be announced on April 25.

How the Voting Works

Judges have 100 points to distribute between a minimum of five and maximum of 10 restaurants. No restaurant can receive more than 20 points from any one judge. Each vote from the public warrants one point and those points are added to the judges’ totals to determine the top 50 restaurants. The 33 judges cannot vote for restaurants they own or are employed by, they must have eaten at the restaurants they select at some point between January 1, 2011 and March 30, 2013, and they are encouraged to name at least two restaurants in their home region.

For more information on the rankings and to see the 2012 list, headed by Vij’s in Vancouver, visit the Top 50 Restaurants webpage.

Click here to learn more about the Foodie of the Year Contest.

The 2013 Voting Academy


Janine MacLean – Food Columnist and chef

East Coast

Renée Lavallée – Chef and food writer at, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia (Regional Head Judge)
Jeremy Charles – Chef/co-owner Raymonds, St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador
Chris Makin – Sommelier, server at Saege Bistro in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Wine Columnist
Cailin O’Neil – Food blogger based in Halifax, Nova Scotia
Stephen Lee – Co-owner Mallard Cottage, St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador
Zane Kelsall – Owner Two If By Sea, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia


Marie Asselin – Food Nouveau and writer, Quebec City (Regional Head Judge)
Travis Champion – Owner of L’Orignal, Le Gros Jambon and Magdalen, Montreal
Dustin Gilman – Food Guy Montreal writer
Mayssam Samaha – Will Travel for Food writer, Montreal
Allison Van Rassel – Foodie in Quebec City writer
Jean-Baptiste Herlem – Restonomy writer, Montreal


Rebecca LeHeup – Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance executive director, Toronto (Regional Head Judge)
Renee Suen – Toronto Life food writer
Gizelle Lau – Toronto Life food writer
Arlene Stein – Chair of Terroir Symposium, Toronto
Barry O’Neill – Zed Financial Partners managing partner, Toronto
Jenn Chow – blogger from Foodie Prints, Ottawa
Don Chow – blogger from Foodie Prints, Ottawa

Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba

Jody Robbins – writer, Calgary (Regional Head Judge)
Diana Ng – WestJet Up! magazine travel editor, Calgary
Shel Zolkewich – Freelance writer based in Winnipeg
Derryl Murphy – Food aficionado from Saskatoon
Dan Clapson – Food writer at, Saskatoon
Julie van Rosendaal – Food columnist, blogger at Dinner with Julie, Calgary

British Columbia/Territories

Adrian Brijbassi – Managing Editor, Vancouver and Toronto (Regional Head Judge)
Terry Pichor – Chef at Sonora Restaurant in Discovery Islands, food writer at Vancouver Sun
Sarah Bancroft – Vitamin Daily editor, Vancouver
Katie Martie – writer, Vancouver and Revelstoke
Sophia Cheng – Heth PR manager, Vancouver
Lee Man – Food writer at Vancouver Magazine

Token American

Steve Dolinsky – ABC Chicago food reporter, chairperson for World’s 50 Best Restaurants, multiple James Beard Award winner for food reporting


Vicky is the worldly publisher of Having graduated from McGill University in Montreal, she has set about building a talented team of travel experts to deliver to you words and images of the very best places to see and experience in Canada. Based in Yorkville in Toronto, Vicky regularly jet sets around Canada — be sure to catch up with her when she's in your part of the country.

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