Throughout her career, Samantha Rahn has been sharpening her wine knowledge, and industry professionals agree her depth of understanding is among the best in the business. So it was fitting that last weekend the wine director for Araxi took home the Vancouver International Wine Festival’s prestigious Sommelier of the Year Award.
Singled out from a group of sommeliers working throughout B.C. and Alberta, the award recognizes Rahn’s tireless persistence in crafting Araxi’s acclaimed wine list, which she has been working on for the past five years.
“It is a huge honour to be named sommelier of the year, not just for me and Araxi, but also for Whistler,” said Rahn. “This is the first time the award has gone to someone outside of Vancouver, and I’m only the second woman to have received such a distinction, next to Master of Wine (the world’s highest certification) Barb Philip.”
Rahn has been working as a sommelier for the past 12 years and really developed her love of wine during her time spent at Banff’s Maple Leaf Grill & Lounge, where she earned the restaurant prestigious accolades such as Wine Spectator’s “Best of” Award of Excellence.
She decided to move to Whistler five years ago, like most locals, to pursue a work-life balance of snowboarding and wine tasting.
“I love this job because there is always something new to taste and discover, and the people in my industry are wonderful,” gushed Rahn. “Most of them are just proud farmers sharing the treasures of their harvest. I grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan and have a real appreciation for the hard work that goes into growing and harvesting grapes, as well as the passion of the growers and winemakers.”
Bearfoot one of the ‘crown jewels of fine dining in North America’
The Distinguished Restaurants of North America (DiRoNA) has given the Bearfoot Bistro a big thumbs up, awarding the famed restaurant with the Achievement of Distinction in Dining award in the Timeless Traditional category.
The Timeless Traditional designation is an award for providing unparalleled service and dishes from start to finish while maintaining the highest standards in the traditional art of fine dining and recognizes the Whistler restaurant as one of the “crown jewels of fine dining in North America.”
Bearfoot’s marketing manager Marc Des Rosiers said receiving the highest distinction possible for fine dining in North America is very exciting and makes the restaurant the first in Whistler to have such an honour.
He said the DiRoNA award is not just a nod to the extraordinary menu developed by Executive Chef Melissa Craig and proprietor André Saint Jacques, but the efforts the entire staff give to provide guests with a fine dining experience.
“It is quite an honour for Bearfoot Bistro to have this award because it recognizes the quality of fine dining experience we deliver,” Des Rosiers said, pointing towards experiences like the Belvedere Vodka Ice Room and sabreing Champagne as things that contribute to taking the overall experience to the next level. “Those are all factors that play in favour for the Bearfoot Bistro to get this award, so we are very pleased with that.
“What is great about the award is not just about food, but overall experience, so it is a great recognition of the entire team.”
DiRoNA is an independent, non-profit organization established in 1990 to recognize and promote excellence in dining.
Alta Bistro boys honoured among Top 40 Foodies
No longer a local secret, Alta Bistro has been outed by Western Living magazine as one of Whistler’s culinary gems. The publication released their Top 40 Foodies Under 40 list and have recognized Alta Bistro’s owners Edward Dangerfield, 32, Eric Griffith, 33, and executive chef Nick Cassettari, 29.
“When we receive recognition like this, it makes us stand back and really take in what we have created at Alta Bistro,” said Dangerfield. “We have been in business only two years and to receive accolades like this is very rewarding. It takes hard work and sacrifice to run our restaurant and with so many moving parts we are constantly being challenged. It’s amazing to see our efforts pay off and receive some recognition.”
Alta Bistro opened in December 2010, and from day one the restaurant’s sommelier Eric Griffith has been tirelessly sourcing a wine cellar envied around the resort town. He is responsible for expertly pairing wine varieties with Alta Bistro’s unique menu.
The Vancouver International Wine Festival has taken notice of Griffith’s efforts, awarding Alta Bistro, Rimrock Café and Araxi with a tie for top spot as Whistler’s best restaurant for food and wine pairings.
“It’s a great achievement. It is a coming of age for the restaurant and demonstrates we have a well rounded and balanced wine list. It also shows recognition for us staying true to our beliefs of sustainability and ethical sourcing when it comes to food and wine,” said Griffith.
Heading into 2013, Dangerfield says they plan on continuing to develop and grow their partnerships with farmers and suppliers and are excited about their new urban cultivator where they are starting to grow their own herbs in the restaurant.
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