This is an update on a previous post. Unfortunately my favourite restaurant didn’t make it to the finals, but one of my picks did. You can read about it in this article from the Ottawa Citizen:

Ottawa’s culinary luminaries honoured

Gala ceremony fêtes the year’s best restaurateur, chef and others

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OTTAWA — Ion Aimers, founder and owner of the small yet celebrated Ottawa chain of The Works Gourmet Burger Bistros, was named restaurateur of the year Monday night.

Mr. Aimers received the Bill Joe Restaurateur of the Year Award during a gala awards ceremony at the Westin Ottawa.

Also cited was executive chef Matt Carmichael of Restaurant E18hteen and Social, who received the MAC Knife Chef of the Year award; Citizen Food columnist Gay Cook, for a Lifetime Achievement award; and Nawal Roukos, the Ottawa Citizen Service Person of the Year.

Three locations for The Keg restaurants in Ottawa were named CHEZ 106 Ottawa’s Favourite Restaurant.

The awards were announced at the 16th annual gala for the Ottawa Restaurant Hotel Motel Association (ORHMA). About 250 chefs, restaurateurs and others in the hospitality industry paid $125 each to attend.

Mr. Aimers, whose award is named for Ottawa restaurateur Bill Joe, was cited as a team player and community philanthropist. Last year’s winner was Dot Janz of Black Dog Bistro.

“Ion is without doubt a leader in our industry and in the community,” said Mike Ziola, president of the Ottawa chapter of ORHMA. “He’s an inspiration to his staff and other restaurateurs and there is no better choice this year.”

A member of ORHMA’s board, Mr. Aimers, 50, has been in the restaurant business more than 30 years. He opened his first The Works in 2001 in small quarters in New Edinburgh. It has since grown to five burger outlets and a barbecue chicken restaurant.

“The only reason I’m standing here today is because of my restaurant family,” he said. “We are all part of a restaurant community, and that is why tonight so special, not just to me, but to us all as we celebrate food.”

Mrs. Cook, 78, has been writing a food column in the Citizen for about 10 years.

“Folks on the committee have always been pleased with her coverage,” said Linda Price, co-owner of P.J. Quigley’s (named favourite restaurant last year) and ORHMA director.

Said Mr. Ziola: “She has tirelessly worked for the industry. She has always been a voice for the hospitality industry in her column.”

With her award, Mrs. Cook joins culinary luminary executive chef Kurt Waldel of the National Arts Centre, who won the lifetime achievement award in 2008.

“I am so grateful for what has happened in Ottawa in the last few years, how the word ‘culinary’ has been lifted to heights never seen before,” Mrs. Cook said. “Thank you for this. I am blown away.”

Mr. Carmichael has been executive chef at E18hteen since late 2006, and has since taken on the executive chef position in the kitchen at Social on Sussex Drive. He is well known for his innovative and expressive cuisine. (The top chef last year was Derek Benitz of Benitz Bistro.)

“His creativity, innovation, and his support of local producers has earned the respect of his peers, and he is appreciated for his work with students in the Algonquin College Culinary Program,” Mr. Ziola said.

“In eight years, Ottawa has moved forward and progressed tremendously,” Mr. Carmichael said, adding he is very proud to be part of the city’s culinary community.

As Service Person of the Year, Ms. Roukos of the Newport Restaurant was applauded for her attentiveness to patrons — right down to their preference for sugar or sweetener in their coffee.

“Nawal cares as an individual about us, each as a special person,” said her nominator.

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