Golden Plates explained

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      In the past century, a previous owner of the Georgia Straight had a great idea. Why not ask the readers for the names of their favourite restaurants and publish the results?

      Thus, the Georgia Straight’s annual Golden Plates awards were born. And this year, in our 24th edition, we’re seeing how the suburbs are starting to gain recognition.

      The most obvious example is Baan Lao Fine Thai Cuisine in Richmond’s Steveston neighbourhood, where Chef Nutcha Phanthoupheng is presenting Thai delicacies in ways that have never been witnessed before in this region. Not only did she win chef of the year, but her riverfront restaurant also won in the best overall, best fine dining, best new restaurant, best Thai, and best hidden gem categories.

      The readers’ choices were calculated as a result of people voting for their favourites in an online ballot on the Straight’s website from June 14 to July 29. From the results, it appears that Vancouver’s most celebrated chefs can no longer claim to have the fine-dining field to themselves anymore.

      Another suburban business that fared exceptionally well in the balloting was Sawbuck’s Neighbourhood Pub in Surrey. It bested all the Vancouver competitors as the best neighbourhood pub and the establishment with the best pub food.

      Of course, Baan Lao and Sawbuck’s aren’t the first suburban businesses to do well in the Golden Plates awards. Scott Jaeger, chef and cofounder of the now-defunct PearTree restaurant in Burnaby, also appeared on the cover of one of our Golden Plates issues several years back.

      The switch to an online ballot has helped level the playing field for suburban establishments in recent years. But Vancouver’s dining establishments and beverage rooms still dominate the regional field. That’s clear to anyone who checks the readers’-choice boxes on this website.

      One thing everyone can agree on is that it’s been a brutal year for Vancouver’s hospitality sector. That was amply demonstrated when Jaeger’s fine-dining establishment closed last summer as a result of a staggering rent increase in the midst of the pandemic. And we’ve been so impressed by how many other businesses in this sector navigate their way through this economic catastrophe in the face of so much uncertainty.

      We hope that anyone who might be reading this is motivated to visit the establishments highlighted in the readers'-choice boxes. Think of it this way: they just won the election in their respective categories.