The mission is straightforward: One critic sets out on a month-long food crawl to find the top new restaurants from coast to coast. The methods are old-school: There’s a handy list of fake names for booking tables, and we won’t be swayed by freebies, since Air Canada enRoute always picks up the tab. The margin for error is pretty much non-existent: Restaurants get one shot to impress Nancy Matsumoto, our discerning diner, and then she’s gone. This year, a panel of industry experts pointed us towards dozens of exciting places that launched between late spring 2017 and early June 2018, as well as a few that were missed at the start of the year. If we felt the spots were worth a look, they earned a review on our longlist. And if they were really special – unforgettable, innovative, and just mind-bogglingly delicious – they get to call themselves one of our Top 10 restaurants in Canada.
Meet Our Panelists
Dana VanVeller and Lindsay Anderson
Based in Vancouver, Dana VanVeller and Lindsay Anderson are co-authors of the cookbook FEAST: Recipes and Stories from a Canadian Road Trip, which details their cross-country journey to experience Canada’s food and culture.
Based in New Brunswick, Cornel Ceapa is a self-proclaimed sturgeon geek and the owner of Acadian Sturgeon and Caviar, the only company in the world producing wild and sustainable caviar, as well as land-based farmed caviar and east-coast sturgeon.
Dan Clapson is a food journalist for The Globe and Mail and the co-founder of Eat North. He frequently chats about Alberta restaurants on the radio and is a regular guest on Cityline, CTV Vancouver’s Morning Live and Global Calgary.
John Jackson and Connie DeSousa
John Jackson and Connie DeSousa are the co-chefs and co-owners behind Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2010 laureate Charcut, in Calgary.
Jessica Emin is a Halifax-based photographer, food stylist and food and travel writer with a delicious Instagram feed.
John Gilchrist is a restaurant reviewer for the Calgary Herald and CBC Radio, and is the bestselling author of My Favourite Restaurants: Calgary, Canmore and Beyond and Cheap Eats Calgary.
Alexandra Gill has been the British Columbia restaurant critic for The Globe and Mail since 2005 and has contributed to Vancouver Magazine, Western Living and Time Out Vancouver.
Air Canada Culinary Partner David Hawksworth is the chef/owner of Vancouver restaurants Hawksworth and Nightingale, and the mastermind behind signature dishes exclusive to Air Canada flights in Signature Class and Maple Leaf Lounges.
Michael Marler and Véronique Hupin
Michael Marler and Véronique Hupin are the married team behind Les Pervenches, a biodynamic winery in Farnham, Quebec, celebrated by restaurateurs across the province.
Cook and former EatHalifax blogger Kathy Jollimore is the cofounder of Wild Card Creative, a collective specializing in recipe development, food styling, food photography and food writing.
Well-versed in food and politics, Pierre Jury writes for Le Droit in Ottawa and is a long-time contributor to La Presse in Montreal.
CJ Katz is the host of the cooking show The Wheatland Café on CTV, an award-winning cookbook author and the spicy mastermind behind Be a Kitchen Hero premium spice blends and rubs.
Bartley Kives has covered politics, music, food and the environment at the Winnipeg Free Press and CBC Manitoba, has written for The Guardian and is the author of the Canadian bestseller A Daytripper’s Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada’s Undiscovered Province.
Renée Kohlman is a pastry chef, food writer from Saskatoon, and the author of the blog Sweetsugarbean. Her critically acclaimed debut cookbook All the Sweet Things was published in 2017.
Chef Justin Leboe has appeared three times among the top three Canada’s Best New Restaurants with his Calgary establishments Rush (2009), Model Milk (2012) and Pigeonhole (2015).
Based in Toronto, Rebecca Mackenzie is the president and CEO of the Culinary Tourism Alliance and advises on the board of the UN World Tourism Organization’s Gastronomy Tourism Network.
Editor and publisher of Vancouver’s Scout Magazine, Andrew Morrison is an award-winning food critic and co-author of Vancouver Cooks 2, The Sobo Cookbook and Araxi, Roots to Shoots: Farm Fresh Recipes.
Edmonton’s Omar Mouallem is an award-winning journalist and author whose writing on food, culture, business and cats has appeared in The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, The Guardian and Wired.
Katerine-Lune Rollet is a Sutton- and Montreal-based journalist who contributes to Ricardo magazine. She has also maintained her own blog about Montreal’s restaurant scene since 2010.
Amy Rosen is a James Beard-nominated, award-winning freelance journalist and author who ate her way across Canada for Air Canada enRoute before settling in as a panelist. She is the co-co-owner of Rosen’s Cinnamon Buns in Toronto.
British Columbia-based Shelora Sheldan writes for several publications, including Eat Magazine and Western Living, and has been a judge for the Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards and the Gold Medal Plates culinary competition.
Food Network host, nutritional activist and cookbook author Michael Smith is P.E.I.’s food ambassador and the chef behind the restaurant FireWorks at the Inn at Bay Fortune, a finalist for Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2016.
Montreal-born Élise Tastet is the founder and editor of Tastet, a free interactive guide to the best restaurants, cafés and bars in Montreal, Quebec City and Ottawa.
Vikram Vij is the co-owner of Vij’s Restaurant, Vij’s Rangoli and My Shanti by Vikram Vij in Vancouver, where traditional Indian techniques meet West Coast ingredients. He is a certified sommelier, the co-author of three cookbooks and has crafted on-board meals for Air Canada flights to India
Karl Wells has been a panelist for Canada’s Best New Restaurants since 2005, is a former restaurant critic for The Telegram newspaper in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, and is a former CBC journalist, current television host, cookbook reviewer and personal chef.