Considering the Pear Tree has been around for 17 years, the North Burnaby restaurant has maintained a relatively low profile. Co-owner and executive chef Scott Jaeger knows why: he told the Georgia Straight in a 2012 interview that it is likely because the fine-dining establishment is located outside the downtown core.
“We get it all the time: this isn’t where we should be, we should be downtown,” he said at the time. “I understand why people say it. I think they say it in a good way. I think they’re trying to say, ‘You’re good enough to be downtown.’ ”
This year, the Pear Tree was voted best Burnaby restaurant in the Straight’s online readers’-choice survey. The contemporary European restaurant was given two more honours in the Straight’s restaurant-industry survey. Straight staffers’ contacted over 100 chefs and restaurateurs, who voted for the Pear Tree as the most underrated restaurant in the region. Jaeger also earned the most votes for best chef. It’s an indication of the respect that he and his establishment have earned among his peers.
(Respondents couldn’t vote for their own chef or restaurant, and answers were recorded anonymously.)
While Jaeger and his restaurant may fly slightly under the radar, his credentials stand out. The Canadian-born chef trained at Ladner’s esteemed La Belle Auberge restaurant before working across Europe and in Australia. In 1997, Jaeger opened the Pear Tree with his partner, Stephanie Jaeger, and in 2007 he represented Canada in the prestigious Bocuse d’Or world culinary competition in France.
David Hawksworth is another chef recognized for both his talent and his restaurant. Readers picked the owner of Hawksworth Restaurant as the city’s best chef. The youngest chef inductee into the B.C. Restaurant Hall of Fame was also recognized by his peers, placing second in the best-chef category of the Straight’s industry awards.
This year’s industry survey includes two new categories. Best “other European” recognizes European fare outside the French and Italian categories; the winner was España. The Spanish restaurant, which opened in the West End in 2012, is co-owned by Edward Perrow and chef Neil Taylor. (The small tapas spot was also voted best tapas restaurant in the readers’ choice awards.)
Best “use of local ingredients” honours restaurants that try to highlight what’s fresh and produced nearby. The Farmer’s Apprentice took top spot here. At his farm-to-table eatery in Fairview Slopes, chef David Gunawan bases his menu on whatever farmers deliver to the restaurant each day.
The Farmer’s Apprentice, which Gunawan opened in July 2013 with his partner, Dara Young, also won the industry award for best new restaurant. In the readers’ choice awards, Homer St. Cafe and Bar, which also opened last July, was voted best new restaurant.
Established favourites Le Crocodile, La Quercia, Tojo’s, Vij’s, and Maenam won industry awards in the French, Italian, Japanese, Indian, and other-Asian categories, respectively. Cuchillo, which opened at 261 Powell Street last summer to antigentrification protests, was voted best Latin American restaurant by industry insiders. The restaurant’s pan-Latin tapas menu was designed by chef Stuart Irving, formerly of Gastown’s Cobre restaurant.