By Jeff Lee | Vancouver Sun
VANCOUVER — Vancouver will announce the newest 19 vendors to its street food program on April 4.
They were chosen last week from a list of 52 by a panel of chefs, business people, community activists and food bloggers who examined their proposals for everything from business plans to menus and nutritional value to ability to be operational early this summer.
But the one thing the judges didn’t do is actually test-taste any of the food.
That’s because the process was too complex this year to allow for tasting of every applicant’s menu, according to Deputy City Manager Sadhu Johnston. Not that some of the 14 members of the selection committee didn’t want to try the food.
“It was kind of complicated to try to ask them to all cook for us. It’s hard enough managing that may panellists and that many proposals,” Johnston said. “Maybe we will try to do that next year.”
Five alternates were also chosen. Vendors will chose their street locations next week, based on score. All represent a wide variety of foods and tastes, Johnston said.
Last year the city chose 17 vendors on a lottery basis, but decided this year to submit applicants to a much more rigorous process, including vetting the menus for nutrition, potential use of local foods and use of Fair Trade or sustainable products.
This year’s selection process created some controversy, however, with some food cart vendors preferring the lottery process. Two members of the selection panel, popular street food bloggers James Tabbert and Amy Eagan, said on their blog vancouverstreeteats.ca they resigned from the committee over concerns of fairness.
Tabbert declined to speak to The Vancouver Sun and the blog post was subsequently removed from the site. He said in an email he and Eagan were also stepping down from their blog.
Another member of the panel, Downtown Business Improvement Association executive director Charles Gauthier, said the selection process “was really well done. And yes, I don’t usually say things like that about the city.”
Johnston was mystified about Tabbert’s and Eagan’s concerns. He said the two submitted their scores to the committee and never indicated they were unhappy with the selection process.