As Canada's Foodie of the Year, Deborah Son could have chosen anywhere in Canada for the dinner of a lifetime. Her choice is one of Vancouver's most beloved restaurants. Son, a 21-year-old student from Winnipeg, will dine at Vij's in mid-August, part of her grand prize in the Vacay.ca contest that had more than 8,000 entries from across Canada.
"I love Indian food but have never had the chance to go to an Indian fusion restaurant. The menu at Vij's looks beautiful but my decision was definitely influenced by the fact that it was voted No. 1 last year on the Vacay.ca 50 list as well as No. 3 this year," said Son, who will also enjoy a four-night luxury stay at the Loden Hotel, an exquisite boutique property near Coal Harbour that is the sponsor hotel of the prize.
In 2012, Vacay.ca was the first publication to rank the Top 50 Restaurants in Canada, and Vij's came out ahead of all other establishments in a vote by judges and the public. This year, it finished third behind Montreal's Joe Beef and Langdon Hall of Cambridge, Ontario. Its selection as Son's choice for dinner in the first Foodie of the Year Contest has thrilled owner Vikram Vij.
"I am highly honoured that she chose us. It is a great compliment," the celebrity chef said when he was told of Son's selection. "I will make sure she is well taken care of and leaves here well fed."
Son, a devoted foodie, says she plans to dine with her mother and enjoy her first visit to Canada's west coast. A committee of Vacay.ca editorial members chose Son's piece because of the quality of her writing in her submission that nominated Segovia Tapas Bar & Restaurant in Winnipeg for inclusion in the 2013 Vacay.ca Top 50 Restaurants in Canada Guide.
"Deborah's piece showed passion for cuisine as well as exceptional writing skills," Vacay.ca Managing Editor Adrian Brijbassi said. "When you read her account of her dining experience at Segovia, you want to immediately book a reservation. That's the power of honest writing and the hallmark of someone who loves to dine out." [Read Deborah Son's winning entry here.]
Winnipeg Student is Canada's Top Foodie
Son said she has been ecstatic since learning the news of her prize. In Vancouver, she will benefit from the Loden Hotel's proximity to Canada Place, the seawall and the downtown attractions. The hotel, which is known for its environmentally friendly practices, also offers its guests complimentary car service in the downtown core, meaning Son and her mother can visit popular spots like Gastown, Yaletown and Stanley Park with ease.
"It feels incredible," Son says of her victory, which was announced last month, shortly after the 2013 Vacay.ca list was revealed. "It came as a complete surprise to me. The other two finalists had submitted such beautifully written pieces that I felt I did not stand a chance. I am so honoured to have been chosen by the judges on the basis of my writing. This is the first time I have won a contest; what a contest to have won!"
Son, meanwhile, will indulge in one of her favourite pastimes: fine dining.
"The experience of dining out is unlike any other," said Son, who will begin law school at the University of Manitoba this fall.
"It is an opportunity to simultaneously engage every sense of the human body in harmony. It is an adventure involving the exploration of different cuisines with wonderful company. I believe it is one of the most social but intimate interactions that one can have with other people. It is breathtaking to witness the creativity that stems from the mind of a chef come alive on the plate in front of you."
Son will be writing about her journey on Vacay.ca and tweeting about her experiences (@SulkiSon). Be sure to follow what life is like as Canada's Foodie of the Year.
Her visit to Vancouver is scheduled to begin on August 21.
More About the Foodie of the Year Contest
Vacay.ca's 2013 Foodie of the Year Contest features a Grand Prize of Dinner for Two at the restaurant of the winner's choice, round-trip airfare to that restaurant's destination city and a four-night luxury hotel stay.
To be eligible for the 2013 Canadian Foodie of the Year Contest, entrants had to:
Votes from the public were added to those of the Vacay.ca academy of judges and used to determine the 2013 Top 50 Restaurants in Canada List, which included a second annual People's Choice winner, this year won by the Mono Cliffs Inn.
More About the Top 50 Restaurants in Canada
The Canadian public teamed with 34 of the nation's top food experts to provide the most definitive resource to fine dining in the country ever published. Vacay.ca revealed the 2013 list via a video series published on May 1 that named five restaurants at a time. View the segment announcing the top five restaurants here.
Runner-up restaurants 51-100 were also named. They can be found by scrolling down on the Top 50 Restaurants webpage.
Follow Vacay.ca on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@VacayCanada