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Duncan home to Vancouver Island’s best restaurant

Chef Dan Hudson and the entire crew at Hudson’s On First are celebrating being named Vancouver Island’s best restaurant by Vancouver magazine. - Andrew Leong/file
Chef Dan Hudson and the entire crew at Hudson’s On First are celebrating being named Vancouver Island’s best restaurant by Vancouver magazine.
— image credit: Andrew Leong/file

Duncan’s Hudson’s On First has unseated two older eateries as perennial winners of the prestigious Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Award for best island eatery outside Victoria.

Andrea Hudson, co-owner with husband-chef Dan, was still a bit shocked by her bistro’s customer-nominated win April 22 against The Pointe at the Wickaninnish Inn, and Sooke Harbour House.

“It’s just ping-ponged between those two,” Hudson said of Van Mag kudos traditionally won by the two more-established restaurants.

“We knew we could stand shoulder to shoulder with them, but to come out of the gate in 1 ½ years, and win gold over them was shocking, and shows we’re doing it well and we just have to keep believing in our product.”

Great service and heritage ambience at Hudson’s aside, she cited her restaurant’s policy of using local ingredients from Cowichan, south island and beyond in her Hudson’s meals.

That won’t change as Hudson’s simply shifts its menu seasonally.

“We’re just going to fine-tune more of what we’re doing, but not do any drastic changes.

“We’ll continue developing our wine list, and stay on top of our game now that we’re number one.”

Vancouver loved the seafood and rabbit.

“Best Chef contender Dan Hudson is delivering big-city food in a heritage house smack in the middle of Cowichan Valley farmland,” it writes. “Dan’s cooking is a wonder to behold and a sheer pleasure to consume.”

The gold award came just two weeks after the Hudsons won the Duncan-Cowichan Chamber of Commerce’s Black Tie Award for Young Entrepreneurs of 2014.

Van Mag’s list also contained two honourable mention — both of them local, giving Cowichan three of the top five island spots. Stone Soup Inn and Amuse bistro (which is moving to Cherry Point Vineyards from Unsworth Vineyards) were the honoured pair.

Meanwhile, Hudson proudly cited two-dozen of Cowichan businesses supplying her eatery.

“We try and keep a menu that doesn’t need to go to exotic (tropical) ingredients.

“We’re using asparagus from Pedrosa Farm, and getting flowers from local farms, coffee from Drum Roster, tea from the Tea Farm, rabbit from a woman near the Honda dealership, Quist for beef, pork and lamb, Mad Dog for seafood, and organic eggs from the Happy Goat Farm.

To Hudson, it boils down to restaurants supporting their community, and working together to keep Cowichan on the culinary map.

“If everyone works together, and helps cross-promote and support local interests, it will drive our local economy — and make Cowichan a stronger destination spot.”

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