For anyone in the restaurant industry, this week the buzz is all about Maclean’s Magazine and their Canada’s Best Restaurants edition, in which a team of food critics led by Jacob Richler picked the Top 50 restaurants in the country.
Richler knew what he was getting into – the first line of his introduction makes it clear:
However much work goes into such things, they are seldom praised and always attacked – and gleefully.
What has been surprising is just how vehement those attacks are. I’ve seen no glee, just a level of childish pettiness that is embarrassing for the entire restaurant industry.
It would be idealistic to hope that food writers and the chefs and restaurateurs they write about would aspire to a level of maturity and professionalism in their interactions. That they would approach the work of the other with a realization that the “enemy” is just trying to do their job to the best of their ability with fairness and integrity, and that other factors (editors and readers in the case of writers; business partners and staff in the case of the restaurant owners) sometimes come into play. A restaurant review should never be personal, and should never be taken that way. At its best, a review is the perfect example of a symbiotic relationship where food writer and chef help and promote each other’s businesses (a review – good or bad – gives a restaurant publicity, and a popular review helps to sell copies or push traffic to a website).
Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, Fionn MacCool’s (70 The Esplanade, plus others) will be offering an Irish-themed menu starting Monday, March 5th, running until April 29th. Look for colcannon pie, lamb stew, corned beef and cabbage and a prime rib burger with corned beef.
You should go:
Jamie Kennedy andGilead Cafe (4 Gilead Place) host an “Order of Good Cheer” dinner on Monday, March 12th featuring Prince Edward County wines from By Chadsey’s Cairns. Hors d’oeuvres plus a 4-course dinner costs $75, with wine pairings an additional $25. Call 647-288-0680 to reserve a spot.
In an effort to have this site be a place for all of my writing, I’m starting a new column that links to any other stuff I’ve written that has been published during the preceding week. I may try and go back and add older stuff, but much of it is time-sensitive, and thus not really relevant. At present, this will mostly be pieces I’ve written for Word of Mouth on Toronto.com as that is my main gig right now.
Born in Montreal to an Italian father and an Indian mother, Chef Scott Vivian has always loved food. Chef Vivian has earned praise from Georgia to Colorado to Oregon before coming back to Canada. In 2006, he took on Toronto via Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar. A year later he was promoted to Chef de Cuisine of Jamie Kennedy at the Gardiner (111 Queen’s Park). In October of 2009, he had the amazing opportunity of becoming co-owner and executive chef of Wine Bar(9 Church Street). Chef Vivian will continue his support of local food procurement as he and his wife Rachelle open their first restaurant Beast(96 Tecumseth Street) in June 2010.
What inspired you to become a chef?
My deep passion and understanding of food and culture. I knew it the moment I stepped foot in my first professional kitchen.
It seems clichéd to start a piece about a new restaurant and roll out the “food = love” metaphors. But in the case of the Wine Bar, it seems apt, given that the principals involved are two couples who have saved what has become known as a landmark dining spot from what might have potentially been a corporate overhaul.
When word came out in the summer of ’09 that Jamie Kennedy was selling his Church Street Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar restaurant due to financial troubles, nobody knew for sure what might happen to the place. Kennedy offered the place to staff members first, and Chef Scott Vivian (who had run Kennedy’s Gardiner museum restaurant) along with his wife, pastry chef Rachelle Cadwell (who had been head of pastry for all of Kennedy’s operations) decided to take over the place and make it their own. Along with Vivian and Cadwell, Ted and Mary Koutsogiannopoulos (who had previously run Joy Bistro) came on board to remake the restaurant, now simply called the Wine Bar.