Araxi captures top spot with Vancouver Magazine’s annual restaurant awards
But when I received word that they’d been awarded top honours for the Whistler category at the 19 th annual restaurant awards from Vancouver Magazine for the ninth consecutive year, I thought it was time to have a chat with restaurant director, Steve Edwards, just one of the many people behind the scenes at this long-time local favourite culinary destination.
Long-time is actually putting it mildly; this Top Table restaurant was founded in 1981, so it’s a veritable dinosaur by Whistler standards.
“We were one of the first,” Edwards says with a laugh.
Edwards, who has only been at Araxi for about two years now, was ecstatic to hear that they’d been designated as the top spot in Whistler for yet another year.
The competition is always stiff in Whistler, with a myriad of fine dining establishments in the running.
This year, the Bearfoot Bistro, led by chef Melissa Craig, captured silver honours, while the Four Seasons’ Fifty Two 80 Bistro received the bronze designation. The Rim Rock Café and Après also earned honourable mentions.
“We expect a run for our money every year and we never know when our luck will run out!” he says.
While there are definite staffing challenges involved in running a successful restaurant in a resort town like Whistler, Edwards says Araxi has actually had a fairly low turnover rate, and their strong staff members are really responsible for their recent success.
“I think it has a lot to do with the people that are behind it,” he says. “We have such an incredible team, we have such an incredible chef, we have the resources with Pemberton being 20 minutes away — you don’t get that in the city.”
The secret to their success actually seems pretty simple — they stay true to their priorities, which are food, wine, service and ambience, in that order.
And when it comes to food, it seems like they were miles ahead of the curve on the slow food cycle.
“It’s always been local, that’s really our focus, is providing the best fresh local sustainable product that we can, and presenting it consistently well,” Edwards explains.
Executive chef James Walt lives in the Pemberton region and actually picks some of their produce directly from the fields on his way to work, so the food is often literally coming from the farm to the table.