Page 1

SEPTEMBER 23 – 30 / 2021 | FREE

Volume 55 | Number 2797

ELECTION FALLOUT

Leaders may face the music

VIFF SHORTS

Five films worth watching

24th Annual

GOLDEN PLATES Chef of the year Nutcha Phanthoupheng turns farm-to-table ingredients into a culinary extravaganza in Steveston; plus, readers’ favourites in more than 100 food and beverage categories

SABRINE DHALIWAL • SEASIDE PAINTINGS • SPENCER RICE • ARTIST-INSPIRED DRINKS


NEWS

What the 2021 election truly means for each party leader

CONTENTS

September 23-30 / 2021

7

COVER

Chef Nutcha Phanthoupheng, the founder of Baan Lao Fine Thai Cuisine in Steveston, is one of the big winners in the 24th annual Georgia Straight Golden Plates awards.

by Charlie Smith

By Charlie Smith

2

NEWS

This year’s federal election didn’t do much to change the seat count in Parliament, but it could have far-reaching ramifications for party leaders. By Charlie Smith

33 ARTS

Spencer Rice contemplates the edgy legacy of TV’s Kenny vs. Spenny while bringing his new comedy show, Spennaissance Man, to B.C. By Steve Newton

e Start Here

Justin Trudeau kept his job because he set himself apart from the Conservatives on vaccinations as the NDP leader mostly let him off the hook for his climate plan. Photo by Liberal Party of Canada.

T

he Conservatives needed the NDP to have a stronger leader and the Liberals needed their own party to have a stronger leader. Those are just two of the conclusions from the federal election, which resulted in minimal changes in the seat count from the 2019 election. Below, you can read my other observations.

LIBERAL LEADER SURVIVES

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau still has a commanding lead in the overall seat count, falling about a dozen victories short of winning his second majority government. On the upside for the Liberals, they can seek the support of either of the two largely left-of-centre parties in Parliament, the Bloc Québécois and the NDP, to remain in power. Neither the Bloc nor the NDP will want another election soon after already tapping their donors for as much money as they were willing to give.

So Trudeau is in the clear—for now. The downside for the Liberals is that they will continue to have a minority on parliamentary committees. This leaves Trudeau vulnerable to ethics investigations, damning televised hearings (like the one that did in former finance minister Bill Morneau), and blistering reports whenever the opposition parties decide collectively that they want to embarrass the prime minister. For Trudeau, this election was a draw. He won enough support to beat back any challenge to his leadership. There’s zero chance in the next couple of years that former central banker Mark Carney, deputy prime minister Chrystia Freeland, former industry minister Navdeep Bains, former environment and climate change minister Catherine McKenna or anyone else will mount a serious challenge for his job. But Liberals know that they may never win another majority with Trudeau at the see page 4

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EDITOR Charlie Smith GENERAL MANAGER (ACTING) Sandra Oswald SECTION EDITORS Mike Usinger (ESports/Liquor/Music) Steve Newton SENIOR EDITOR Martin Dunphy STAFF WRITERS Carlito Pablo (Real Estate) Craig Takeuchi SOLUTIONS ARCHITECT Jeff Li ART DEPARTMENT MANAGER Janet McDonald

e Online TOP 5

Here’s what people are reading this week on Straight.com.

1 2 3 4 5

Homeowner loses appeal to increase assessment of “undervalued” property. People’s Party of Canada candidate calls for arrest of Dr. Bonnie Henry. COVID-19 in B.C.: About 1,700 new cases as hospitalizations increase. Liberals will form another minority government under Justin Trudeau. B.C. recalls: frozen cooked chicken, mushrooms, bread, and veggie prawns. @GeorgiaStraight

GRAPHIC DESIGNER Miguel Hernandez PRODUCTION SUPERVISOR Mike Correia ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVES Glenn Cohen, Luci Richards, Catherine Tickle, Robyn Marsh (On-Leave), David Pearlman (On-Leave) MANAGER, BRANDED CONTENT AND MARKETING LEAD Rachel Moore CONTENT AND MARKETING SPECIALIST Alina Blackett CREDIT MANAGER Shannon Li ACCOUNTING SUPERVISOR Tamara Robinson

THANK YOU FOR RECYCLING THIS NEWSPAPER. 2

THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

SEPTEMBER 23 – 30 / 2021


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THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

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from page 2

helm. That’s because he has demonstrated in two consecutive elections that he can’t keep the Bloc below 30 seats. Trudeau needs to mostly run the table in Quebec to win another majority—an impossible dream as long as Yves-François Blanchet remains at the head of the 30-year-old sovereignist party. Moreover, Trudeau’s support for three oil pipeline projects and a large liquefied natural-gas plant in B.C. offers an opening for the Bloc to paint him as a climate quisling. As a result, Trudeau is looking more like former Liberal prime minister Lester Pearson, who won two consecutive strong minority governments in 1963 and 1965, than his father, Pierre Trudeau, who won three majorities in five elections. It’s far less fun heading a minority government than a majority, which might hasten Trudeau’s decision to leave federal politics should he fall short of a majority in his next campaign. CONSERVATIVES WOO BLUE LIBERALS

The right wingers in the Conservative caucus were taken aback by leader Erin O’Toole’s move to the centre in the recent campaign. After all, he portrayed himself as “True Blue” in securing the leadership in 2020 over another centrist, former cabinet minister Peter MacKay. While the results on September 20 weren’t what O’Toole desired, he may have succeeded in his gambit to modernize a party that has traditionally been the

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole made the case that his move to the centre is putting his party on a path to power, whereas Green Leader Annamie Paul has little to show for her efforts this year.

O’Toole’s caucus still has a significant share of social conservatives… – Charlie Smith

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friendly party that doesn’t hate the LGBT community. Admittedly, there was some sleight of hand: O’Toole still tolerated caucus members who support LGBT conversion therapy and he endorsed the Northern Gateway pipeline project. Yet several social conservatives in his caucus went down to defeat, including Kenny Chiu, Tamara Jansen, and Alice Wong in the Lower Mainland. Perhaps the party will nominate pro-choice candidates in their ridings in the future. By declaring unequivocally that he’s pro-choice, O’Toole showed that he was serious about winning over the so-called Blue Liberals—fiscally conservative yet socially liberal voters who flip between Canada’s two major parties. He has room to grow the Conservatives’ support in a fu-

ture election with younger right-of-centre voters if he isn’t ousted in a party coup. O’Toole’s caucus still has a significant share of social conservatives, including former leadership rival Leslyn Lewis, who was elected in the Ontario riding of Haldimand-Norfolk. So it’s still not a slam dunk that he’ll be leading his party into the next election—especially if former prime minister Stephen Harper’s cronies decide that they want to toss him aside. In this campaign, O’Toole’s efforts to project himself as a mainstream politician were undermined by his refusal to demand that all of his candidates get vaccinated against COVID-19. This, and O’Toole’s opposition to vaccine passports for air and train travel, helped Trudeau portray the Conservative leader as being weak in beating back the pandemic. The failure of right-of-centre provincial governments to contain the fourth wave also doomed O’Toole’s prospects. As a result, Canadians weren’t prepared to trust the Conservatives on such an important public-health measure. But that doesn’t mean that O’Toole didn’t make inroads in making his party more palatable to Blue Liberals and suburban voters in a future national election. The Conservatives would be wise to give him another chance rather than throw him under the bus, triggering yet another civil war in their party. He’s articulate, presentable, and cool under pressure. see page 6


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THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

5


from page 4

NDP STALLS UNDER SINGH

The biggest loser on election night, apart from Green Leader Annamie Paul, just might have been the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh. A few days prior to the election, CTV reporter Annie Bergeron-Oliver asked him why he wasn’t able to “move the needle” in growing his party’s popular support during the campaign. Singh swatted away the question, but this reality remains: he gained only one seat across the country from the 2019 election, when the party’s seat count fell by 45 percent. The NDP has fewer than one-quarter of the seats that it held at its high-water mark under former leader Jack Layton in 2011. Plus, the NDP has failed to put a serious dent in the Liberal fortresses of Toronto and the Metro Vancouver suburbs under Singh’s leadership. The party can’t even win seats where Sikh voters form a substantial segment of the electorate, such as Brampton, Surrey, and South Vancouver. Granted, it was a tough slog for any third-party leader in a close election, when voters tend to cast ballots for the frontrunning party that they hate the least. Trudeau’s Liberals also benefited from the exceedingly weak Green Party of Canada. Trudeau won over many of its traditional supporters with a climate plan endorsed by former B.C. Green leader and climate scientist Andrew Weaver. But Singh’s decision to run a campaign

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh holds the balance of power with only 25 seats. Photo supplied by NDP.

rooted in taxing the ultrarich rather than placing a sharper focus on the climate crisis undermined the chances of NDP candidates in reasonably wealthy ridings. Singh was simply not very interested in discussing the nuances of climate policy, including the flaws in the Liberal plan. By not seriously challenging the Liberals’ support for carbon capture and storage headon and by refusing to condemn the Trans Mountain pipeline-expansion project or the LNG plant in Kitimat, Singh became very vulnerable on one of the most compelling issues for progressive voters. Singh didn’t help himself by continuing the federal NDP tradition of not

making deals with the federal Greens to enable its candidates to run unopposed in winnable ridings. All of this came together to sabotage the chances of four NDP candidates who would have put the climate crisis in the spotlight in Parliament: Jim Hanson (Burnaby North–Seymour), Anjali Appadurai (Vancouver Granville), Avi Lewis (West Vancouver–Sunshine Coast–Sea to Sky Country), and Laura Dupont (Coquitlam– Port Coquitlam). To be fair to Singh, the B.C. NDP government didn’t help him much. Premier John Horgan’s support for fossil-fuel projects and the fracking of natural gas immediately put the federal NDP leader on the defensive. And Trudeau exploited this to the hilt. Horgan also posed for chummy pre-campaign photos with Trudeau after the Liberal government coughed up cash for childcare. However, Singh’s overall weakness on climate policy still undermined the party’s prospects in Quebec, where greenhousegas emissions are near the top of the priority list in federal elections. The Bloc’s Blanchet is a former environment minister who is very conversant on this issue. Singh didn’t even bother bringing out one of his party’s credible climate hawks, such as Lewis, to counter the assault from the Bloc and the Liberals on the NDP climate policies. As a result, I expect that Singh will face a challenge to his leadership, just as former leader Tom Mulcair did after losing the 2015 election. Mulcair was tossed aside for being too fiscally conservative, whereas Singh is vulnerable for not going beyond sloganeering on the climate crisis. PEOPLE’S PARTY IDIOCY

What can you say about a party that sent out a flyer to voters in Vancouver Quadra urging the immediate arrest of provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry? A party with a riding president who allegedly picked up gravel and threw it at the prime minister? A party whose leader, Maxime Bernier, refuses to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and holds what appears to be a superspreader event on election night? 6

THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

SEPTEMBER 23 – 30 / 2021

Former publishing baron Conrad Black might think that Bernier’s climate-changedenying platform offered the best program to Canadians, but hardly anyone else agrees with him. The People’s Party of Canada is the modern incarnation of the Know Nothings, an anti-immigrant and xenophobic 19th-century U.S. party intent on defending the country against Catholics. “I know nothing,” is how its party members replied when asked about its policies. The same could be said by some PPC members when asked about the risks of airborne COVID-19. The Know Nothing movement petered out within a few years before the U.S. Civil War. For the sake of those who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 due to compromised immunity, let’s hope that its modern equivalent meets a similar fate once Bernier fades into obscurity. PERISH THE GREENS

To nobody’s surprise, former Green leader Elizabeth May retained her seat in Saanich–Gulf Islands. But her party was slaughtered virtually everywhere else, not even mustering a third-place finish in Victoria. In 2019, the Greens came second in Victoria with more than 21,000 votes. This time, the Green candidate, Nick Loughton, had only 6,602 votes by the end of the night on September 20. It’s conceivable that this might be May’s last election after four consecutive victories in her riding. Leader Annamie Paul conceded before the election that she has considered stepping down. She is probably finished as a federal politician. This offers a clear path for federal New Democrats to rebrand themselves as a party of climate action and win over some who supported the Greens when May was the leader. But that will require a serious, fully costed climate plan and a willingness to expose the Liberal and Conservative (and B.C. NDP) charade of carbon capture and storage as a solution to the crisis. In addition, the New Democrats may have to say goodbye to some blue-collar voters in order to win over the growing number of climate-conscious young urban and suburban residents. It’s safe to say that the Greens are in serious trouble. Whether Paul stays or goes, the party will have difficulty raising money in the future, given the dismal results in the 2019 and 2021 elections. The Greens are probably better off in the long run focusing on electing politicians to municipal councils and provincial legislatures. Real change comes from the bottom up. Going in this direction would be good news for the Trudeau Liberals, but only if the New Democrats continue letting them off the hook on the climate, the most compelling issue of the 21st century. That’s because without a livable climate, we won’t have much of an economy, let alone communities not at risk of wildfires, sea-level rise, and deadly heat waves. g


GOLDEN PLATES

Chef Nutcha Phanthoupheng wows Straight readers Baan Lao Fine Thai Cuisine in Steveston came out on top in several categories in the Golden Plates awards

W

by Charlie Smith

hen I sat down for the first nine-course meal of my life, I was greeted with a letter at my table setting. Written by Baan Lao Fine Thai Cuisine executive chef Nutcha Phanthoupheng, a.k.a. Chef Nutcha, it welcomed me to her elegant dining room in Steveston overlooking the Fraser River. She described her restaurant’s traditional Thai cuisine as a “symphony, where each element has to be perfectly tuned to ensure a harmonious, balanced taste experience”. “This evening, we will be transporting you on a memorable culinary journey featuring nine unique courses,” Chef Nutcha wrote. And what an experience it was. It opened with Maa Haaw as an amuse-bouche. This stir-fried minced Berkshire pork was infused with Thai herbs and a dash of bird’s eye chili and served in a small round ball on fresh pineapple. It didn’t last long on the table. Over the next two hours, staff delivered four appetizers and five main dishes. Along the way, I tried Phat Thai Goong, which was prepared in an edible netting. That was followed by a spicy soup, organic and free-range duck, and next up were two styles of organic rice grown in Chef Nutcha’s home region of Isaan in northeastern Thailand. The final main course, Baan Lao’s signature sockeye salmon dish, befit the restaurant’s location at the mouth of the Fraser River, which is the mightiest Pacific salmon–bearing waterway in the world. All of this was followed by a house-made organic lime sorbet as a palate cleanser, then a coconut glutinous-rice dish as dessert, and, finally, a finisher of fresh, handcarved watermelon that landed on the table looking like a wild plant blooming in a field. The entire banquet was supplemented with tea pairings; these beverages came from Japan, China, and Taiwan. The service was stunningly gracious without being stuffy. The food was magnificent, with each dish presented and served in a distinctly artistic manner. It was like going to the theatre and being surprised again and again and again. Canada has no Michelin-starred restaurants yet. But the attention to detail at Baan Lao, along with its elegant yet homey vibe, could conceivably put it in the running for one of these prestigious designations, which are based on meticulous judging that places a premium on originality. But it’s not just the food and the presentation that attracts diners’ attention. The bright white interior, high ceiling, hardwood floor, and floor-to-ceiling windows facing the Fraser River are augmented by

Chef Nutcha Phanthoupheng was raised in a rural province in the Isaan region of northeastern Thailand, where she came to appreciate the value of fresh ingredients and traditional Thai cuisine.

In the northeast of Thailand, there’s no sea access, so the food is more vegetarian-based. – Baan Lao Fine Thai Cuisine executive chef Nutcha Phanthoupheng

four paintings by a world-famous elephant. Yes, you read that correctly. This artistic Thai pachyderm, Suda, even signs her proportionally accurate creations, which she paints with her trunk. Her works of art have been featured on CNN and in the Wall Street Journal—and if you don’t believe me, check her out on YouTube. After my first visit to Baan Lao, I came to appreciate how this suburban restaurant did exceedingly well in this year’s Golden Plates awards voted on by Georgia Straight

readers. They chose Chef Nutcha as the chef of the year only one year after Baan Lao opened. In addition, the restaurant was honoured as the best restaurant overall, best new restaurant, best fine-dining establishment, best Thai restaurant, and best hidden gem. It’s the closest that any restaurant can get to a clean sweep in the Golden Plates. CHEF NUTCHA, a former nurse and cancer researcher, trained under Chef Vichit Mukura, who served the Thai Royal family.

After moving to Vancouver in 2014, she craved the type of natural Thai food that she ate as a child. In an interview with the Straight, she said that she grew up in the rural and landlocked province of Khon Kaen, which is heavily agricultural. Everything she ate as a child was secured fresh, including fish from local waterways. She recalled clearing salamanders and grasshoppers from the rice fields. Water needed to be pumped from the ground. Honey would be collected from local bees. “I would go hunting and foraging for fresh ingredients in the surrounding fields and forests, bringing them home to cook with my mother,” Chef Nutcha told the Straight through a translator. “We didn’t have electricity, so we cooked over an open fire, preparing meals for our family. Each bite was fresh and delicious. That’s how I was raised.” She added that while Thai food always has a fair amount of heat, it’s not necessarily as overpoweringly hot as many westerners believe. The cuisine in Baan Lao, for example, is subtly flavoured and cannot be described as mouth-burning. “In the northeast of Thailand, there’s no sea access, so the food is more vegetarianbased,” Chef Nutcha said. “In the south, there’s more Muslim influence, so curry dishes are common.” The rice comes from a family plot in Isaan and is transported across the Pacific to its destination in Steveston. “At Baan Lao, we use authentic Thai herbs and spices,” Chef Nutcha maintained. “We have a living herb wall at the restaurant to grow fresh herbs. I grow some in my garden at home and we source locally grown organic herbs.” So what’s more important to Chef Nutcha—the ingredients or the cooking technique? “That’s difficult, as choosing the organic ingredients is so important to me,” she replied. “But I think, in general, it’s the cooking technique. Anyone can purchase all the ingredients, but without the proper cooking techniques, it’s just a pile of ingredients.” Chef Nutcha’s interest in healthy food was honed in a hospital in Bangkok, where she worked as a nurse. In this capacity, she worked on trials of treatments involving cancer patients. “I recognize that what we eat has a direct impact on our wellness,” she declared. “So I wanted to create meals that are healthy, organic, locally sourced when possible, and have no preservatives.”

SEPTEMBER 23 – 30 / 2021

see next page

THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

7


READERS’ f CHOICES CONTINENTAL

TACOS 1. Tacofino, Various locations 2. La Taqueria Various locations 3. Primo’s Mexican Grill 15069 Marine Drive, White Rock

Chef Nutcha Phanthoupheng’s nine-course meal at Baan Lao concluded with Phohn La Maai, Luuk Choop, and Chaa Mint, which included a slice of hand-carved watermelon.

1. Chambar Restaurant 568 Beatty Street 2. Hawksworth Restaurant (tie) 801 West Georgia Street 2. Le Crocodile (tie) 100–909 Burrard Street 2. Les Faux Bourgeois (tie) 663 East 15th Avenue 2. Cactus Club Café (tie) Various locations 3. Water St. Cafe 300 Water Street

from previous page

GREEK

LEBANESE

1. The Greek by Anatoli Various locations 2. Stepho’s Souvlaki Greek Taverna 1124 Davie Street 3. Nammos Estiatorio 3980 Fraser Street

1. Nuba Various locations 2. Jamjar Canteen Various locations 3. Superbaba 2419 Main Street

ITALIAN

MIDDLE EASTERN

1. Savio Volpe 615 Kingsway 2. Ask for Luigi 305 Alexander Street 3. Giardino 1328 Hornby Street

1. Nuba Various locations 2. Jamjar Canteen Various locations 3. East Is East (tie) Various locations 3. Tamam: Fine Palestinian Cuisine (tie) 2616 East Hastings Street

And she’s keen to emphasize that Baan Lao is a team effort. It wouldn’t have been possible to launch the restaurant without everyone involved sharing in the same vision. She chose to live in Steveston because she found it to be such a quaint and charming community. It’s also an ideal location for her and her husband to raise a family. “It can be tough to establish work-life

balance when owning a restaurant,” she conceded. “So I wanted to be close enough to home that my kids can easily stop in to see me on their way home from school and when they’re out for a walk. “We love being part of the community here, and we’re close enough to all the amenities of Vancouver, too,” Chef Nutcha continued. “When we envisioned Baan Lao, we dreamed of a beautiful waterfront location—and we found it.” g

G olden PLATES EXPLAINED

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.

d IN THE PAST CENTURY, a previous editor 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.

8

THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

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 nowdefunct 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 sprinkled throughout this issue. 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 picks up this issue 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. g

SEPTEMBER 23 – 30 / 2021

by Charlie Smith

LATIN AMERICAN 1. Cuchillo 261 Powell Street 2. El Camino’s 3250 Main Street 3. Havana Vancouver 1212 Commercial Drive

MEDITERRANEAN 1. Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill & Enoteca (tie) 1133 Hamilton Street 1. Nuba (tie) Various locations 2. Branas Mediterranean Grill (tie) 617 Stamps Landing 2. The Greek by Anatoli (tie) Various locations 3. Hydra Estiatorio Mediterranean 825 West Pender Street

PACIFIC NORTHWEST 1. Botanist 1038 Canada Place 2. Blue Water Cafe 1095 Hamilton Street 3. Forage 1300 Robson Street

MEXICAN 1. Tacofino Various locations 2. Sal y Limón Various locations 3. La Taqueria Various locations

CARIBBEAN 1. Calabash Bistro 428 Carrall Street 2. The Reef, 4172 Main Street 3. PGs Jamaican Restaurant 1387 Johnston Road, White Rock

PERSIAN 1. Cazba Restaurant Various locations 2. Persian Gulf Restaurant 114 A West 15th Street, North Vancouver 3. Zeitoon (tie) 1795 Pendrell Street 3. Celeshmet Restaurant (tie) 6956 Victoria Drive

MALAYSIAN 1. Banana Leaf Various locations 2. Hawkers Delight (tie) 4127 Main Street 2. Potluck Hawker Eatery (tie) 3424 Cambie Street 3. Tropika (tie) 2975 Cambie Street 3. John 3:16 Malaysian Delights (tie) Various locations

SOUTHEAST ASIAN 1. Potluck Hawker Eatery (tie) 3424 Cambie Street 2. Anh and Chi 3388 Main Street 3. Baan Lao Fine Thai Cuisine 4100 Bayview Street, Richmond

THAI 1. Baan Lao Fine Thai Cuisine 4100 Bayview Street, Richmond 2. Maenam 1938 West 4th Avenue 3. Bob Likes Thai Food 3755 Main Street


Three reasons why meal kit service Fresh Prep is taking over Vancouver, one kitchen at a time

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eciding what to cook for dinner every night is an uphill struggle for many, let alone finding the time to grab groceries and prepare the meals. After a long day at the office, the last thing anybody wants to do is julienne a batch of carrots or tear up over an onion. Between juggling work and play, whipping up a package of store-bought tortellini topped with a jar of tomato sauce is really all you have time for. Plus, not everyone has the chef skills required to make an elaborate and nutritious meal. Vancouver-based meal kit service Fresh Prep is a great place to start for those who are short on time or confidence in the kitchen. The local company was voted “Best Meal Kit Service” by readers of the Georgia Straight in this year’s Golden Plates awards. To show its gratitude, Fresh Prep is offering readers three free meals with the code: SCSTRAIGHT21. “The customer experience with Fresh Prep is far and away the best meal kit experience in Canada,” says Fresh Prep cofounder and chief operating officer

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come in a Zero Waste Kit, it’s packaged in a compostable paper bag with ingredients in soft plastic. To further its sustainability initiatives, Fresh Prep has developed a recycling program for the soft plastics that are rinsed and returned. Through its partnership with OnFleet, Fresh Prep’s f leet is now carbon neutral as a result of offsetting the emissions of its deliveries. When it comes to ingredients, the company only uses Ocean Wise seafood and sources local whenever possible, further reducing its carbon footprint. THE MEALS ARE DELICIOUS

With Fresh Prep, you can swap your bowl of instant noodles for Mushroom & Ricotta White Pizza, an Alabama Style Chicken Sandwich, or Sesame-Crusted Seared Tuna. Dishes are often inspired by international cuisines to bring some much-needed excitement to your current cooking routine. g To find out why Fresh Prep has been voted the “#1 Meal Kit Delivery Service” in Vancouver, sign up with the Straight’s exclusive code: SCSTRAIGHT21 and receive three free meals on your first order.

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2021

SEPTEMBER 23 – 30 / 2021

THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

9


GOLDEN PLATES

Hector Laguna’s mom is the best chef he knows

B

by Steve Newton

otanist executive chef Hector Laguna fell in love with Vancouver the first time he saw it—even though the weather totally sucked. “It’s funny,” Laguna recalls on the phone from the restaurant, where he’s taking a break from rolling pasta. “We came in December for my mother’s birthday, and the weather was horrible. You know, Vancouver weather in December is really, really bad. A little rain. But we got to downtown and we walked around and I told my wife, ‘I would live here for sure.’ And she said, like, ‘We got here an hour ago.’ But I like it. A year later, we were here.” Laguna first discovered his love of cooking while growing up with his seven siblings on a farm in Hidalgo, Mexico. All the kids had to pitch in, so they would start out doing dishes and then graduate to making tortillas. “We were always in the kitchen,” he says. “That was the place where all important conversations were had.” It was there that young Hector learned the basics of cooking from his mom, who

Hector Laguna’s favourite dish on the menu at Botanist is the lamb rack and lamb belly duo.

he says makes a wicked mole and is the best chef he knows. “She cooks so much stuff,” he says, “and it amazes me, now that I cook professionally. When I think about it, she doesn’t have a single recipe, it’s all by memory and by feel and touch. “But I did learn a lot from her,” he adds. “I think the most important thing I learned from her was just my love for food and

what food really brings to the table, other than just being food.” Ten years before landing the executive chef job at Botanist (located in the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel) in 2017, Laguna was picking up valuable pointers under the mentorship of James Beard Foundation Award recipient Michelle Bernstein at Michy’s in Miami. “She was, professionally, the person who made me want to cook for a living. She is so passionate. She has Latin background as well, so she sees food the same way I see it: as something that brings people together. So we had that in common.” As far as the food at Botanist goes— cuisine that just won it Readers’ Choice Awards for Best Hotel Restaurant and Best Pacific Northwest Dining in the 2021 Golden Plates—the dry-aged duck breast (with onion crêpe, wild mushrooms, nettles, and preserved cherry jus) is the most popular item on the dinner menu. But Laguna says that the lamb rack and lamb belly duo (with tomato fondue, puffed grains, and lamb consommé) is his personal favourite.

“It’s a recipe that we grew up eating on a Sunday,” he says, “so it brings a lot of memories for me.” When he’s cooking at home for his wife and two kids, aged five and three, Laguna loves taco night, his favourite being tongue tacos. But he also likes to go out on the town and sample the competition. When asked if there are any other local eateries he recommends, the chef raves about delicious meals he’s had at AnnaLena in Kitsilano and St. Lawrence in Gastown. And he wants to try the food at Published on Main very soon. So what does he think sets Botanist apart from the other restaurants in Vancouver? “You know, we never take a break,” he replies. “We’re always thinking about a new thing. And with that, I’m not saying we are innovative; at this time, I don’t believe anybody is inventing anything else. But it’s getting creative and always trying to use the fresh ingredients, always trying to treat them the best way possible. Trying to accentuate the produce itself more than, you know, the aesthetics.” g

READERS’ f CHOICES HOTEL RESTAURANT

B.C. WINE/WINERY (WHITE)

INDEPENDENT BAR LOUNGE

1. Botanist 1038 Canada Place 2. Hawksworth Restaurant 801 West Georgia Street 3. Bacchus Restaurant & Lounge 845 Hornby Street

1. Stoneboat Vineyards 356 Orchard Grove Lane, Oliver 2. Gray Monk Estate Winery 1055 Camp Road, Okanagan Centre 3. Quails’ Gate 3303 Boucherie Road, West Kelowna

HOTEL LOUNGE

BARTENDER

1. The Lobby Lounge and RawBar 1038 Canada Place 2. Bacchus Restaurant & Lounge 845 Hornby Street 3. Notch8 Restaurant & Bar 900 West Georgia Street

1. Sabrine Dhaliwal (The Chickadee Room) 2. Chad Rivard (Odd Society Spirits) 3. Adam Domet (Pourhouse)

1. The Keefer Bar 135 Keefer Street 2. The Narrow Lounge (tie) 1898 Main Street 2. The Chickadee Room (tie) 182 Keefer Street 2. Tutto Restaurant & Bar (tie) 901 Homer Street 3. Bartholomew Bar (tie) 1026 Mainland Street 3. Pemberton Station Pub (tie) 135 Pemberton Avenue, North Vancouver

WINE BAR

1. Hawksworth Restaurant 801 West Georgia Street 2. Tutto Restaurant & Bar 901 Homer Street 3. Water St. Cafe 300 Water Street 3. Tap & Barrel Various locations

1. UVA Wine & Cocktail Bar 900 Seymour Street 2. Grapes & Soda 1541 West 6th Avenue 3. Salt Tasting Room (tie) 45 Blood Alley Square 3. - GOBO (tie) 237 Union Street 3. Juice Bar (tie), 54 Alexander Street

B.C. WINE/WINERY (RED) 1. Road 13 Vineyards 799 Ponderosa Road, Road 13, Oliver 2. Mission Hill Family Estate 1730 Mission Hill Road, West Kelowna 3. Burrowing Owl Estate Winery 500 Burrowing Owl Place, Oliver

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RESTAURANT WINE SELECTION

WINE STORE 1. Everything Wine Various locations 2. Legacy Liquor Store (tie) 1633 Manitoba Street 2. Liberty Wine Merchants (tie) Various locations 3. B.C. Liquor Stores 5555 Cambie Street

SEPTEMBER 23 – 30 / 2021

LIQUOR STORE 1. Legacy Liquor Store 1633 Manitoba Street 2. B.C. Liquor Stores 5555 Cambie Street 3. JAK’s Beer Wine Spirits Various locations

RESTAURANT FOR A STIFF DRINK 1. Pourhouse 162 Water Street 2. Minami 1118 Mainland Street 3. The Keefer Bar (tie) 135 Keefer Street 3. Tutto Restaurant & Bar (tie) 901 Homer Street

RESTAURANT TO CURE A HANGOVER 1. White Spot Various locations 2. Denny’s Restaurant Various locations 3. Gyoza Bar 622 West Pender Street

PUB FOOD 1. Sawbuck’s Neighbourhood Pub 1626 152 Street, Surrey 2. Irish Heather & Shebeen 210 Carrall Street 3. BierCraft Various locations

COMFORT FOOD 1. Burgoo Various locations 2. MeeT Restaurants Various locations 3. White Spot (tie) Various locations 3. Tap & Barrel (tie) Various locations

TEAHOUSE 1. Secret Garden Tea Company 2138 West 40th Avenue 2. Neverland Tea Salon 3066 West Broadway 3. The Teahouse 7501 Stanley Park Drive


SEPTEMBER 23 – 30 / 2021

THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

11


GOLDEN PLATES

A brief history of Vancouver’s taco love affair

M

by Martin Dunphy

ore than a decade ago, Vancouver began a love affair with tacos that would quickly elevate the humble finger food to a status that some thought might threaten the city’s long-term marriage to sushi. Not to worry. Although the city clearly thought the food was deserving of its own eateries, the sushi union prevailed. But tacos were no fling, and Vancouverites scarfed enough of them to enable the restaurants that survived the shakedown to establish themselves in the local scene. The tiny La Taqueria Pinche Taco Shop kick-started things near Victory Square on West Hastings Street in 2009 and quickly attracted fans of its traditional al pastor (pork), carne asada (beef), lengua (beef tongue), and pescado (fish) versions. That same year, Jason Sussman and partner Kaeli Robinsong started up their Tacofino food truck behind a surfing shop in a parking lot off the highway outside the resort town of Tofino on Vancouver Island. The surfing couple combined local, sustainable seafood and meats with flavours they had encountered while pursuing their ocean passion, especially in California. Those U.S. trips had alerted them in

Tacofino tacos (and burritos) take advantage of local and sustainable meats and seafoods.

2008 to the Los Angeles Korean-Mexican taco craze started by a food truck that propelled its owner into a local food empire. It would prove to be a template for success that applied to Vancouver as well. “There was the whole Korean taco thing, and Vietnamese tacos were happening too,” Sussman told the Straight by phone. “They were a big, big, rage.” Sussman had moved to Vancouver Island at the start of the new millennium. “My wife, Kaeli, is from Cortes Island,” he said, “and we moved to Tofino to open the

taco truck. I lived in Victoria before that.” For the surfing entrepreneurs, though, the parking-lot days didn’t bring instant success “It started out that working-class guys would come to the truck,” he said. “Then tourists started coming, but they would see this truck and they would just turn around and drive away. Taco trucks, and food trucks in general, were new back then.” In late 2011, they made the jump to bricks and mortar in Vancouver after travelling to the Lower Mainland to take advantage of the city’s new limited-entry food-truck initiative. The Tacofino Commissary on East Hastings near Nanaimo Street generated lineups as quickly as did La Taqueria. “I love Taqueria for being very traditional Mexican,” Sussman acknowledged, “but I would say that we were very much more influenced by California. “People liked us,” Sussman said. “It was pretty popular [from the start]. “Right off the bat, I did a lot of ‘not tacos’. I had spent a lot of time eating izakaya [Japanese tapas], like [Vancouver pioneer] Guu. So we did a lot of shared dishes, but it wasn’t necessarily what people wanted. People were coming in and wanting tacos.”

So Sussman combined tacos with his creative inspirations, including vegetarian standouts like Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. “Vancouver likes its vegetarian options,” he observed. Both restaurants have since expanded to about a half-dozen outlets apiece— throughout the city and with one each in Victoria—and spawned many imitators. The different Tacofino eateries each have distinctive menu elements to go along with some of the franchise’s original faves. “Our fish taco is definitely the most popular taco everywhere,” Sussman said, “but our crispychicken taco is very popular as well.” Though Sussman worked at the Hastings location at the start, the arrival of his and Kaeli’s first child brought them back to where they started: Tofino and the original truck. “I have two children,” he said, “and I live there most of the time now.” In terms of success, he said, timing was everything. “I really think we were just lucky in two ways,” he said, citing the city’s then-fledgling food-truck experiment and the food’s West Coast popularity wave. “Tacos were sort of exploding right then. “I would say we were lucky with timing rather than we were an influence.” g

Thai Green Curry with Prawns coconut green curry, jasmine rice, bok choy, spinach peppers, bean sprout, thai basil cilantro, crispy rice.

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SEPTEMBER 23 – 30 / 2021




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SEPTEMBER 23 – 30 / 2021

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13


GOLDEN PLATES

Anh and Chi fulfills patriarch’s culinary vision

A

by Carlito Pablo

mélie Nguyen remembers with relish her experience of eating on the street in her parents’ native land of Vietnam. The future Vancouver restaurateur was a young adult at the time, and she and some members of her family were having bánh xèo in an alley. Bánh xèo is a Vietnamese crepe of rice flour made golden by turmeric and stuffed with meat, shrimp, and vegetables. Although it was only 10 o’clock in the morning, Nguyen ordered bia hoi, a light lager brewed fresh daily. “It’s a popular thing to go and drink on the street and eat small snacks and stuff,” Nguyen told the Straight by phone. The scene is emblematic of the food and beer culture in Vietnam, and the memory came back to Nguyen quite recently, when she and her younger brother Vincent were thinking of a way to celebrate a major milestone for their restaurant, Anh and Chi. The Vancouver establishment co-owned by the siblings is marking its fifth anniversary this year. It opened its doors at 3388 Main Street in April 2016. “Beer has been a part of our culture, and we thought how lovely it is to create something that blends the craft-beer scene in Vancouver with special mints and herbs that are only found in Vietnam,” Nguyen said. Nguyen reached out to David Bowkett of Powell Brewery, and suggested that they should do a beer together. The result was Fever Grass, a gosestyle beer flavoured with green peppercorn, citrus, lemongrass, and rau ram, or Vietnamese mint. The beer is available at the restaurant,

Amélie Nguyen and her younger brother Vincent Nguyen are marking the fifth anniversary of their Main Street restaurant by offering a new beer called Fever Grass. Photo by Mark Yammine.

in select private and B.C. liquor stores, or delivered through the BeerVan Collective. “We thought that would be a beautiful blend of telling the story of Anh and Chi and our Vietnamese roots and how we’ve been able to be part of the B.C. and West Coast community,” Nguyen said. Anh and Chi, which means “brother” and “sister” in Vietnamese, traces its origins to the old city of Saigon, where Nguyen’s grandmother had a café during the 1970s. Nguyen’s mother, Ly, learned recipes from her parent, and it was at that establishment that Ly met her future husband, Hoang. Later, Hoang and Ly fled the country, and Amélie, their first child, was born in a refugee camp in Malaysia in 1980.

The young family came to Canada the same year. Hoang, who was a teacher in Vietnam, worked in his new country delivering pizzas. In 1983, the couple started serving food to friends during evenings and weekends at their rental home along Kingsway. In 1985, Hoang and Ly opened the Pho Hoang noodle shop on Main Street and East 20th Avenue, where they did business until 1996. Pho Hoang became an institution in Vancouver, and in 1997 it moved to 3388 Main Street, where it has been reborn as Anh and Chi. Nguyen recalled that her father got a liquor licence for the old establishment as part of his vision. He wanted to elevate

Vietnamese cuisine by pairing home-style food with drinks and cocktails. Hoang died in 2010 and wasn’t able to see his vision fully realized. It was a mission that Anh and Chi delivered with its combination of authentic Vietnamese fare and drinks in a contemporary setting. Nguyen said that if her father were still around, he would have felt a “sense of completion”. “His vision has been expressed. We’ve been able to realize his vision,” Nguyen said. Nguyen also said the celebration of Anh and Chi’s fifth anniversary is as much a nod to her father’s legacy as it is an acknowledgment of the valuable support the establishment got from its staff and industry partners during the pandemic. The restaurant’s employees stayed as the establishment went to “survival mode” in the face of COVID-19. Nguyen also described as “serendipitous” how Anh and Chi came to collaborate with Powell Brewery for the Fever Grass beer. The restaurant wasn’t having much dinein business because of the pandemic, and Nguyen found time to start her plan of bottling sauces. Anh and Chi didn’t have a bottle labeller, and Powell Brewery happened to have a hand-operated device that it was no longer using, which it lent to the restaurant. When Nguyen and Vincent wanted to work with a local business to mark Anh and Chi’s anniversary, the brewery came to mind right away. Their mother, Ly, still comes in every morning to shop for fresh ingredients, prepare marinades, and do some cooking. “She’s our secret recipe,” Nguyen said with delight. g

READERS’ f CHOICES CHEF

COMMERCIAL DRIVE

MAIN STREET

YALETOWN

1. 2. 2. 3.

1. Havana Vancouver 1212 Commercial Drive 2. Lunch Lady (tie) 1046 Commercial Drive 2. Oca Pastificio (tie) 1260 Commercial Drive 2. La Mezcaleria (tie) 1622 Commercial Drive 3. Dolce Amore 1588 Commercial Drive

1. Anh and Chi 3388 Main Street 2. Published on Main 3593 Main Street 3. Burgoo 3096 Main Street

1. Minami, 1118 Mainland Street 2. OEB Breakfast Co. 1137 Marinaside Crescent 3. Tutto Restaurant & Bar 901 Homer Street

Chef Nutcha Phanthoupheng Justin Cheung (tie) David Hawksworth (tie) Angus An

CHINATOWN/STRATHCONA 1. Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie 163 Keefer Street 2. Phnom Penh Restaurant 244 East Georgia Street 3. Kissa Tanto 263 East Pender Street

GASTOWN

KITSILANO 1. Nook 1525 Yew Street 2. AnnaLena Restaurant 1809 West 1st Avenue 3. Maenam, 1938 West 4th Avenue

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1. Water St. Cafe 300 Water Street 2. L’Abattoir 217 Carrall Street 3. Pourhouse (tie) 162 Water Street 3. MeeT (tie) Inner Courtyard, 12 Water Street

SEPTEMBER 23 – 30 / 2021

WEST END 1. España 1118 Denman Street 2. Beetbox (tie) 1074 Davie Street 2. Mumbai Local (tie) 1148 Davie Street 2. Tavola (tie) 1829 Robson Street 2. Saku (tie) 1588 Robson Street 3. Cardero’s 1583 Coal Harbour Quay

FRASERHOOD 1. Savio Volpe (tie), 615 Kingsway 1. Say Mercy! (tie), 4298 Fraser Street 2. Les Faux Bourgeois, 663 East 15th Avenue 3. Ubuntu Canteen, 4194 Fraser Street

SOUTH GRANVILLE 1. Stable House Bistro 1520 West 13th Avenue 2. Heirloom, 1509 West 12th Avenue 3. Bin 4 Burger Lounge 2996 Granville Street


604.568.5882 | calabashbistro.com | 428 Carrall St. Vancouver, BC @calabashbistro

SEPTEMBER 23 – 30 / 2021

THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

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GOLDEN PLATES

Robots come to the rescue at understaffed B.C. eateries by Charlie Smith

READERS’ f CHOICES VEGETARIAN

GROCERY STORE

1. The Naam Restaurant 2724 West 4th Avenue 2. MeeT Restaurants Various locations 3. The Acorn 3995 Main Street

1. Whole Foods Market Various locations 2. Aburi To-Go by Minami Various locations 3. Choices Markets Various locations

HIDDEN GEM

DELI

1. Baan Lao Fine Thai Cuisine 4100 Bayview Street, Richmond 2. The Red Accordion 1616 Alberni Street 3. Straight & Marrow 1869 Powell Street

1. Cioffi’s Meat Market & Deli 4156 Hastings Street, Burnaby 2. La Grotta del Formaggio 1791 Commercial Drive 3. Santa Barbara Market 1322 Commercial Drive

PROFESSIONAL CULINARY SCHOOL

The president of GreenCo Robots, Liang Yu, believes that devices delivering food and drinks to diners’ tables in B.C. restaurants will become increasingly common due to labour shortages.

S

taff at the Mantra on Fort Street in Victoria take pride in their sumptuous lunch buffet. With different vegetarian and nonvegetarian curries offered every day, regular customers can look forward to a variety of dining options. That’s not the only unique aspect of this comfy eatery in the same block as NDP MP Laurel Collins’s riding office. Mantra on Fort Street also has a mechanical device that delivers drinks, cutlery, and other goodies to diners. During a recent visit, the Straight videotaped this robot bringing a jug of water to the table. It’s a creation of GreenCo Robots, an Edmonton-based company headed by engineer Liang Yu. In a phone interview with the Straight, he said that about 30 of his firm’s robots are in use across Canada. “The idea is not to replace people completely,” Liang emphasized. “The robot is more like an assistant that’s doing the labour-intensive work—repetitive work— so we can liberate ourselves.” Mantra on Fort Street was the first establishment in Victoria to order one of these labour-saving devices, but not the first in B.C. That distinction belongs to the Happy Lamb Hot Pot in Richmond’s Lansdowne Centre. According to the B.C. Hotels Association, its members’ greatest concern is a scarcity of workers. The B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association has expressed alarm over the lack of available staff. Liang said his products rely on artificial intelligence to help restaurateurs cope with this labour shortage. “In the restaurant industry, the waiter and waitress can cover more tables if they have an assistant to do the busing task and passing the dishes,” he stated. “And at the same time, the robot doesn’t share tips, so it actually increases the tips for the waiter or waitress.”

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Liang said that his company’s robots carry four trays. Each is large enough to carry two medium-size plates or one large plate. Through the use of LIDAR (an acronym for light detection and ranging) technology, robots follow a prearranged map within the establishment to reach different tables. Once they stop at the kitchen or at a table, a kitty face transforms into a console-control panel. “Of course, the robot can be used for catering for business-mixer functions as well,” Liang noted. “They can carry food samples or drinks or a glass of wine. While people are mingling in the crowd, the robot can cruise around to offer those samples.” Depending on the model, a GreenCo robot costs from about $20,000 to more than $30,000. “We do have a three-year lease-toown program,” Liang said. “To enter that program, the monthly cost will be below $1,000, which is less than half—or about a third—of the minimum wage.” GreenCo Robots was launched late last year as a subsidiary of the GreenCo Group of Companies. It has one subsidiary focusing on health devices and another dedicated to LED lighting and solar-power products. Liang believes that robots can play a role in encouraging people worried about COVID-19 to return to restaurants. “Lots of people are still shy to dine in sometimes,” Liang stated. “I think the robots are not only helping improve the operational efficiency for the restaurant, they also attract more customers to dine in the restaurants. That gives them one more reason to come back and support local businesses.” He revealed that as a kid, he enjoyed watching sci-fi movies, which is where his interest in robots originated. He likened the rise of robots in the restaurant industry to the growing popularity of automobiles about 100 years ago. “If you think about it, a vehicle is a robot in some ways,” Liang said. g

SEPTEMBER 23 – 30 / 2021

1. Vancouver Community College 250 West Pender Street 2. Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts (PICA) 101–1505 West 2nd Avenue 3. The Dirty Apron Cooking School & Delicatessen 540 Beatty Street

COOKING STORE 1. The Gourmet Warehouse 1340 East Hastings Street 2. Ming Wo Various locations 3. Cook Culture 377 Howe Street

TAKEOUT/DELIVERY 1. Uber Eats 2. DoorDash 3. Skip the Dishes

MEAL-KIT DELIVERY SERVICE 1. Fresh Prep 2. Good Food 3. Hello Fresh

GROCERY DELIVERY 1. 1. 2. 3.

Legends Haul (tie) Save-On-Foods (tie) SPUD Instacart

CATERING COMPANY 1. Savoury Chef Foods 1175 Union Street 2. Emelle’s Catering 177 West 7th Avenue 3. The Lazy Gourmet 1545 West 3rd Avenue

PRODUCE STORE 1. Kin’s Farm Market Various locations 2. Whole Foods Market Various locations 3. Donald’s Market 2342 East Hastings Street

COVID PIVOT 1. Aburi To-Go by Minami Various locations 2. Minami (tie) 1118 Mainland Street 2. Legends Haul (tie) 2. Water St. Cafe (tie) 300 Water Street 3. OEB Breakfast Co. (tie) Various locations 3. Jackson’s Meats and Deli (tie) 2214 West 4th Avenue

PLACE FOR ONLINE COOKING CLASSES 1. The Dirty Apron Cooking School & Delicatessen 540 Beatty Street 2. Fable Kitchen 1944 West 4th Avenue

INDEPENDENT COFFEE SHOP 1. JJ Bean Coffee Roasters Various locations 2. Revolver Coffee 325 Cambie Street 3. Dudes Coffee House 4–12823 Crescent Road, Surrey

COFFEE CHAIN 1. JJ Bean Coffee Roasters Various locations 2. Starbucks Various Locations 3. Blenz Various locations

SPECIALTY FOOD STORE

JUICE BAR

1. Bosa Foods Various locations 2. Aburi To-Go by Minami 1112 Mainland Street 3. The Gourmet Warehouse 1340 East Hastings St.

1. The Juice Truck 28 West 5th Avenue 2. Glory Juice Co. Various locations 3. Jugo Juice Various locations


A world where day blurs into night, summer into winter, and food and drink are plenty.

1038 CANADA PLACE | 604 695 5500 BOTANISTRESTAURANT.COM SEPTEMBER 23 – 30 / 2021

THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

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GOLDEN PLATES

Approachability is key for the great Sabrine Dhaliwal The Chickadee Room’s resident star honoured and thankful to be named best bartender in Vancouver

B

by Mike Usinger

eing consistently recognized as one of the greats is something Sabrine Dhaliwal is used to by now, but that doesn’t make the gold-star mixologist her own biggest fan. Informed that she’s been voted Best Bartender in the Georgia Straight’s annual Golden Plates awards, the veteran Vancouver mixologist’s first reaction is a telling one. “I’m very honoured and very thankful for that recognition,” Dhaliwal says in an interview with the Straight. “We live in a city where we’re spoiled with bartenders. So to be recognized as one of the—I don’t want to say ‘elite’, because that’s not the right word—but one of the leaders, I guess you could say, is humbling. I don’t think that I’m doing anything different than anyone else. I’m just kind of doing my thing—trying to make cocktails approachable, and trying to make bar experiences approachable and welcome for everybody.” Raised in Ontario and first arriving in Vancouver around the 2010 Olympics, Dhaliwal quickly began making a name for herself. A chance move behind the bar at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia’s Reflections was followed by celebrated stints at West and Uva Wine & Cocktail Bar. For the past year she’s been busy establishing the Chickadee Room at Juke in Chinatown as

Sabrine Dhaliwal and her ace team at the Chickadee Room balance adventurous cocktails with traditional ones. Photo by Lachlan McAdam.

one of the best new drink destinations in the city. The cocktail program getting all the attention at Chickadee appeals to for-

ward-thinking adventurists without forgetting that some folks are unrepentant traditionalists. Dhaliwal and her team explore new terrain with drinks like Return

of the Sumac (sumac-infused blanco tequila, cynar, Amontilado sherry, and lemmerrakech bitters) and Super Amaro Bros see next page

READERS’ f CHOICES NEW BREWERY

PUB

BREWPUB RESTAURANT

LOCALLY BREWED BEER

1. Superflux Beer Company 505 Clark Drive 2. Container Brewing 1216 Franklin Street 3. La Cerveceria Astilleros 226 Esplanade East, North Vancouver

1. Sawbuck’s Neighbourhood Pub 1626 152 Street, Surrey 2. Colony Bar (tie) Various locations 2. Darby’s Public House (tie) 2001 Macdonald Street 3. Pemberton Station Pub (tie) 135 Pemberton Avenue, North Vancouver 3. Fountainhead Pub (tie) 1025 Davie Street

1. Brewhall 97 East 2nd Avenue 2. CRAFT Beer Market 85 West 1st Avenue 3. Steamworks Brewing Co. 375 Water Street

1. 33 Scres of Sunshine (33 Acres Brewing Company) (tie) 1. Ruby Tears (Parallel 49 Brewing) (tie) 2. Lions Winter Ale (Granville Island Brewing) (tie) 2. Goldilocks (Strange Fellows Brewing( (tie) 3. Play Dead (Yellow Dog Brewing Co.)

LOCAL BREWERY 1. 33 Acres Brewing Company 15 West 8th Avenue 2. Parallel 49 Brewing 1950 Triumph Street 3. Strange Fellows Brewing 1345 Clark Drive

LOCAL DISTILLERY

RESTAURANT BEER SELECTION 1. CRAFT Beer Market 85 West 1st Avenue 2. Tap & Barrel Various locations 3. Alibi Room 157 Alexander Street

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1. Odd Society Spirits 1725 Powell Street 2. Long Table Distillery 1451 Hornby Street 3. The Liberty Distillery 1494 Old Bridge Road, Granville Island

CANADIAN BEER 1. Molson Canadian 2. 33 Acres of Sunshine 3. Steam Whistle

SEPTEMBER 23 – 30 / 2021

LOCAL BREWERY FLIGHT 1. Brewhall, 97 East 2nd Avenue 2. 33 Acres Brewing Company (tie) 15 West 8th Avenue 2. Strange Fellows Brewing (tie) 1345 Clark Drive 3. Parallel 49 Brewing 1950 Triumph Street

BEER STORE 1. Brewery Creek Craft Beer & Wine Store 3045 Main Street 2. Legacy Liquor Store 1633 Manitoba Street 3. Granville Island Brewing 1441 Cartwright Street

B.C. CIDERY 1. Fraser Valley Cider Company 22128 16 Avenue, Langley 2. Merridale Cidery & Distillery 1230 Merridale Road, Cobble Hill 3. Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse 2487 Mt St. Michael Road, Saanichton

B.C. CIDER 1. Lonetree Authentic Dry Cider (Lonetree Cider) 2. Sea Cider Temperance Roxie (Sea Cider) 3. Sunday Rosé (Sunday Cider)


The Chickadee Room at Juke did a successful job of navigating a stressful 2020 pandemic year.

(Hennessy, blended vermouth, Averna, apricot liqueur, tamarind, and coffee bitters). But they also offer the familiar with classics such as the Brown Derby, Bourbon Sour, and Caipirinha. The past year has of course been something of a challenging one, with the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc on the service industry, especially in the late spring and early summer of 2020. Dhaliwal steered the Chickadee Room, which launched in the middle of the insanity, through some turbulent times with clever initiatives like takeaway cocktail kits. Having fun while not being afraid to experiment is important to Dhaliwal, who at one point in her life studied microbiology with plans to go into dentistry. “I’ve always been interested in food and flavours,” she recalls. “Even as a little kid my mom would find me in front of the TV in the living room or in the kitchen with a giant mess in front of me. It was the early ’90s so I’d be trying to follow what James Barber was making on TV. “I guess I could have been a very good baker if I’d wanted to because I have a thing for precision,” Dhaliwal continues. “It’s always been about paying attention to f lavours and combinations—does this work with this, and does that work with that?” That curiosity has kept Dhaliwal passionate about bartending as she’s gone from new kid on the scene to decorated veteran. (Blue-chip accomplishments include taking Best Bartender in the 2017 Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards, and top-spot finishes in England’s Global Belvedere Challenge and the first Vancouver Molinari Sambuca Cocktail Competition.) “I started studying wine, going ‘Do these flavours in this wine pair with this food?’” Dhaliwal remembers. “Then an opportunity came up to step behind the bar, working under [Vancouver legend] David Wolowidnyk, and it was like ‘Oh

wow, this is a whole other realm. And I’m way out of my element.’ It was a slow ascent—a slow, continuous process—but I was always learning, always tasting, and always learning new things. At home, you can get stuck on what you know and enjoy. But in a professional setting you’re always pushed to step outside your comfort zone.” Guests can do just that at the Chickadee Room by checking out items on what’s dubbed the “Secret Menu”, or taking a chance with the Dealer’s Choice, where the customer selects a spirit and style, and then Dhaliwal and her team take over. “Sometimes it’s a drink that we’ve been thinking about or trying to work out,” Dhaliwal says. “Don’t get me wrong—they are always delicious. It’s just that they may not be list-ready, if that makes any sense. A Dealer’s Choice is often very esoteric and designed to that individual’s palate. But they also usually end up, in one way or another, as a listed cocktail.” As for how Dhaliwal knows she’s hit gold with a new creation, that’s usually easy to tell from the reaction of the person on the barstool. Just as, if not even more gratifying, is the feedback from her peers. If the last person Dhaliwal is interested in impressing is herself, that’s because she sees herself lucky to be working in a city with no shortage of bartending rock stars. “There’s not one telltale sign when you’ve made something great, but there are times when I’m like ‘Well, that was spectacular,’ ” she says. “It does happen, where you’re like ‘Holy shit!’ I work with Lily Duong as well, as she’s been bartending for 20 years now. She has incredible experience and an incredible palate as well. When she tastes something and her eyes light, that’s when I go ‘I nailed it.’ She’s one of the most underrated bartenders in the city. And she’s someone that I really look up to.” g SEPTEMBER 23 – 30 / 2021

THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

19


GOLDEN PLATES

READERS’ f CHOICES CHINESE

POKE

1. Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie 163 Keefer Street 2. Kirin Restaurant, Various locations 3. Peaceful Restaurant Various locations

1. Pacific Poke Various locations 2. Westcoast Poké Various locations 3. Pokérrito Various locations

DUMPLINGS 1. Dinesty Dumpling House Various locations 2. Shanghai River Restaurant #110–7831 Westminster Highway, Richmond 3. Ugly Dumpling, 1590 Commercial Drive

JAPANESE 1. Miku Vancouver 70–200 Granville Street 2. Minami, 1118 Mainland Street 3. Tojo’s Restaurant 1133 West Broadway

KOREAN 1. Sura Korean Various locations 2. WOO Korean BBQ 110–16070 24th Avenue, Surrey 3. So Hyang Korean Cuisine 6345 Fraser Street

RAMEN 1. JINYA Ramen Bar 541 Robson Street 2. Marutama Ra-men Various locations 3. Ramen Danbo Various locations

SUSHI 1. Miku Vancouver 70–200 Granville Street 2. Minami 1118 Mainland Street 3. Toshi Sushi 181 East 16th Avenue

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New Chinese eateries join Vancouver’s dining scene

D

by Craig Takeuchi

eservedly, Metro Vancouver has garnered an international reputation for serving some of the best Chinese cuisine outside of China, and the pandemic hasn’t deterred new establishments from contributing to this renown. With that noted, here’s a quick look at some of the most recent entries to the city’s stellar and ever-growing Chinese food and beverage scene. CHINA MEETS ITALY Historians have disputed the legend that pasta arose from Chinese noodles introduced to Italy by explorer Marco Polo. What is unarguable is that Chinese and Italian cuisines share this common culinary element, and a recently launched establishment in Vancouver celebrates the union of the twain. Miantiao, named after the Mandarin word for noodle, had its grand opening on June 17 on the third floor of the Shangri-La Vancouver hotel (1115 Alberni Street). With a kitchen led by Kitchen Table Restaurant Group culinary director Alex Tung, its menu spans breakfast to dinner and east to west, including pasta, risotto, congee, salads, sandwiches, snacks, entrées, and more. For instance, for breakfast, there’s either frittata (broccolini or porchetta) or house congee, the latter served with soft egg, XO sauce, crispy shallots, green onions, and youtiao (deep-fried doughnut sticks). Other offerings include cold poached chicken with radicchio, ginger dressing, breadcrumb, and parmigiana; merluzzo nero, with sablefish, cured pork, olive, and borlotti bean; and a four-course aged whole duck. Meanwhile, the dessert list includes milk-tea tiramisu, with mascarpone, roasted tea, and cocoa; and coconut panna cotta, with mango sorbet, lychee, and sago. Drinks include B.C. wines, cocktails, and zero-proof beverages reflecting European and Asian influences, such as Kun-Mi-To, made with Campari, sweet vermouth, carbonated white tea, and bitters; and Bamboolvardier, with bourbon, herbal bamboo liquor, white bitters, and fortified wine. CHINATOWN DUMPLINGS Head over to Chinatown to find Blnd Tger Dumplings, which launched on July 17 in the former Keefer Bakery space at 251 East Georgia Street. This cozy spot, which emulates food stands in longtangs (alleys) in Shanghai, offers a menu from chef Phong Vo of six housemade dumplings, with fillings from Chinatown businesses and local suppliers. The pork used in the Single Malt Xiao Long Bao and Zhong Dumplings, for example, is from the neighbouring Carley BBQ & Hot Pot Supply. Eggplant, shiitake, cumin,

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SEPTEMBER 23 – 30 / 2021

Laowai is a retro-glam speakeasy tucked away behind a dumpling shop. Photo by Josh Neufeld.

Sichuan peppercorns, and more all come from nearby Ga Cheong Herbal Medicine Co. on Gore Avenue while premium teas are from Treasure Green Tea Company, only a few doors down. Orders can be enjoyed on its patios, as takeout, or in another very special way, as the next entry reveals. SHANGHAI SECRETS Order the Number 7 at Blnd Tger and you’ll gain access to a hidden art deco lounge. Behind a faux freezer door lies a Prohibition-era speakeasy, infused with 1920s glamour and influences from Shanghai and Hong Kong cocktail scenes. Laowai (or “old outsiders”) is a 60-seater space with an avian theme, emerald-green velvet walls, and semicircular leather banquettes. Bar manager Alex Black curates a cocktail program with both classic and contemporary influences, including flavours and touches from Chinatown. Each of the 12 cocktails on the menu are linked to a historical figure, including the bold, smoky Behind Blue Eyes, from a legend of a foreign Buddhist monk who created the first tea bush; the adventurous Red Flag Fleet, inspired by a woman who was the world’s most powerful pirate; and the bitter but floral Snakes on a Crane, based upon a woman who invented a martial art to fend off unwanted male advances. The bar boasts one of the largest lists of the Chinese liquor baijiu in Canada, comprised of 11 brands, as well as wine, single malts, and more. Guests can order from Blnd Tger’s dumpling menu as well as sharing plates. Among the selections are Hong Kong–style pork belly bourbon char sui, featuring slowroasted pork with an American whisky marinade; Guangdong-inspired sweet and sour ling cod, with fish from neighbourhood fishmonger Gar-lok; and the spicy Smoking Tofu Noodles, with biang biang noodles from Shaanxi. g


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Art Boozel draws inspiration from modern giants

Author Jennifer Croll pays homage to the likes of Warhol, Ono, and Banksy with inspirational cocktails

I

By Mike Usinger

f modern-art giants like Andy Warhol, Yoko Ono, and Banksy taught us anything, it’s that there are no rules except for the ones you make for yourself. If you’re looking for a through line between the works of Spanish icon Salvador Dalí, sex-obsessed Jeff Koons, and Pacific Northwest indie queen Miranda July, humour is a big one. The importance of challenging audiences fuels performance artist Marina Abramović, photographer Diane Arbus, and bad boy Robert Mapplethorpe. An appreciation for the beautiful and vibrant in a sometimes grey and ugly world binds together renegades David Hockney, Gustav Klimt, and Sonia Delaunay. If all of the above wildly adventurous iconoclasts have one thing in common, it’s that they surface in Jennifer Croll’s new book, Art Boozel. Subtitled Cocktails Inspired by Modern and Contemporary Artists, the illustrated 144-page outing operates on a couple of levels. Croll serves up 59 mini-profi les of art-world rock stars—many you’ll know (Diego Rivera, Georgia O’Keeffe , H.R.

Giger) and many you’ll learn something about if you don’t (Patricia Piccinini, Petra Collins, and David Shrigley). Accompanying each pocket-size profi le/history lesson is an original cocktail recipe by Croll—in-

spired by the work, style, and personality of the subjects in question. Completing the package are pop-culture-cool original illustrations of each artist by New York artist Kelly Shami. In an interview with the Straight, the Vancouver-based Croll says she started working on Art Boozel after 2018’s glowingly reviewed Free the Tipple: Kickass Cocktails Inspired by Iconic Women. The decision to take inspiration from the likes of Jenny Holzer and Louise Bourgeois, as opposed to Rembrandt and Vincent Van Gogh, was a carefully considered one. “I focussed on modern and contemporary art because I find it more interesting,” Croll says. “It’s alive and of the current moment. Modern and contemporary art also allow you to bring a bit more depth and diversity to the people you’re writing about. If you were like ‘Here’s a book about the historical art canon,’ it would just be a bunch of old, dead white guys. The variety of the art was not the same back then. Like, I’m writing about sound artists. That was not really a thing in 1770.” Step one was narrowing down the list of

renegades, ground breakers, and visionaries. “I want people to work well as a collection,” Croll offers. “With Free the Tipple, I talked about coming up with the invite list to your dream dinner party. You want a mix of personalities—you don’t want everyone to be exactly the same. With this one, I was already familiar with most of the people in the book, but there were some new discoveries that I added to the list. “I was going for a mix of different types of artists,” she continues. “I didn’t want just painters—I wanted a variety of art to be represented. And I also wanted people from different backgrounds and different countries, different genders and different racial backgrounds. I didn’t want it to be this book with a bunch of white dudes. So there’s a diversity of artists, their practices, and their personalities.” That variety proved invaluable when Croll got down to the other major part of Art Boozel: creating the drinks that pay tribute to each artist. Noting that she is neither a trained nor professional see page 24

READERS’ f CHOICES ICE CREAM

BURGER

TAKE-OUT PIZZA

PASTA

1. Earnest Ice Cream Various locations 2. Rain or Shine Homemade Ice Cream Various locations 3. La Glace (tie) 2785 W. 16th Avenue 3. Elephant Garden Creamery 2080 Commercial Drive

1. White Spot Various locations 2. Vera’s Burger Shack Various Locations 3. Cactus Club Cafe Various locations

1. Pizza Garden Various locations 2. Ocean Park Pizza Various locations 3. Domino’s, various locations

1. Ask for Luigi 305 Alexander Street 2. Anton’s Pasta Bar 4260 East Hastings Street, Burnaby 3. Nook (tie) Various locations 3. Pepino’s Spaghetti House (tie) 631 Commercial Drive

VEGGIE BURGER

GELATO 1. Bella Gelateria Various locations 2. Amato Gelato Cafe/Mario’s Gelati 78 East 1st Avenue 3. Dolce Amore 1590 Commercial Drive

BARBECUE 1. Memphis Blues BBQ Various locations 2. Smoke and Bones BBQ 999 Marine Drive, North Vancouver 3. Buckstop (tie) 833 Denman Street 3. Gyu-Kaku (tie) Various locations 3. Rosie’s BBQ & Smokehouse (tie)

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POUTINE

1. MeeT, Various locations 2. White Spot Various locations 3. A & W Restaurant Various locations

1. La Belle Patate 1215 Davie Street 2. Fritz European Fry House 718 Davie Street 3. Belgian Fries 1885 Commercial Drive

CHICKEN WINGS

PIZZERIA

1. WINGS Restaurant & Pubs Various locations 2. Phnom Penh Restaurant 244 East Georgia Street 3. JUKE Fried Chicken 182 Keefer Street

1. Via Tevere 1190 Victoria Drive 2. AJ’s Brooklyn Pizza Joint 325 East Broadway 3. Nook Various locations

FISH AND CHIPS

GLUTEN-FREE PIZZA

1. Pajo’s Various locations 2. Go Fish 1505 West 1st Avenue 3. The Fish Counter 3825 Main Street

1. Virtuous Pie Various locations 2. Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co. Various locations 3. Pizzeria Ludica Various locations

SEPTEMBER 23 – 30 / 2021

BREAKFAST 1. OEB Breakfast Co. Various locations 2. Jam Cafe Various locations 3. Yolk’s Restaurant and Commissary Various locations

BRUNCH 1. OEB Breakfast Co. Various locations 2. Jam Cafe Various locations 3. Café Medina 780 Richards Street

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from page 22

bartender, the author does love the art of mixology. Laughing, she reveals that her earliest stabs making drinks consisted of working the blender at house parties. Pretty quickly, she began to figure out basic rules like the importance of balancing ingredients, using fresh ice, and when to shake and when to stir. And from there, she began to get creative, that eventually leading to Free the Tipple creations like The Lucille Ball (frozen rosé cubes, strawberry syrup, vodka, and fresh lemon juice) and The Margaret Atwood (light rum, maraschino liqueur, pomegranate juice, lime and apple juice, and a snapdragon garnish.) Art Boozel ups the adventurousness. The Takashi Murakami starts with soaking 30 Skittles in 8 ounces of sake for four hours, and then—after carefully straining things through a coffee filter— mixing with Gifford Ginger of the Indies liqueur and fresh lime. Don’t forget the gummy octopus garnish—that being a nod to the anime-obsessed Tokyo artist’s favourite animal. Activated charcoal is the main weapon in The Lee Bul. After using the toxin-absorbing powder (typically made from peat, coconut shells, and sawdust) to make a black ice cube, you drop it in the bottom of a rocks glass. Shake vodka, fresh lemon juice, anise syrup, and a bar spoon of activated charcoal on fresh ice, and strain over the cube. Making an already dramatic

24TH Annual

2021

Jennifer Croll’s daring Art Boozel cocktails use everything from prickly pears to activated charcoal to pink bubblegum. Photo by Rebecca Blissett.

tribute to South Korean sculptor Bul even more eye-popping is the silver sugar (check the baking aisle) on the rim of the glass.

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Assuming you’re not already a professional gainfully employed at the Keefer, L’Abattoir, or the Pourhouse, you’ll elevate your home-mixology game with Art Boozel. And we’re not talking about tweaking a Margarita with a basil leaf, or adding a pinch of chili powder to a Daiquiri. Utilizing everything from sumac to Soju and sesame oil, to pink bubblegum to persimmon and prickly pears, the drinks in the book are as colourful as the artists that inspire them. “A thing that I’m looking for is having a wide variety of the types of cocktails,” Croll says. “I didn’t want them to be all the same, so having a real varied group of artists helped with that because I’m taking inspiration from their work and their life when I’m making these drinks.” As any mixologist—amateur or otherwise—knows, crafting a perfect cocktail takes plenty of trial and error. That’s fine when you’ve got a team working away at the bar, but not so much when you’re a onewoman show experimenting at home. With a day-job to get up for (she’s an editor at Greystone Books), and limited time for writing at night and on weekends, Croll’s learned nothing is going to get done if she’s knocking back three or four cocktails a night, including the inevitable mistakes that are part of the creation process. “Whenever I’m in the midst of writing a book, you kind of have to drink on weeknights,” she acknowledges. “But I have over time got better at dumping out some of the drinks that don’t work out. If it’s Tuesday night, and I’m making five iterations of a particular drink, I’m not going to sit there

I have over time got better at dumping out some of the drinks that don’t work out. – Jennifer Croll

and drink all five. I’ll pick the best one, drink that one, and pitch the others. “Because I’m writing at the same time I’m making the drinks, I’ve got to keep my focus,” Croll continues. “The other thing that keeps me on track, as much as it creates pressure, is having a day job that I have to get up for. I can’t stay up drinking cocktails and experimenting with them until two in the morning.” Don’t, however, let that stop you from, in the spirit of Kehinde Wiley, Tarsila do Amaral, and Richard Prince, making your own rules while working your way through Art Boozel. The beauty of the book is both educational and inspirational. After a couple of Matthew Barneys, a Barbara Kruger, and a Tracey Emin, you just might find yourself unleashing your inner painter, sculptor, or video artist at 3 a.m. Mix another Art Boozel drink, and lean into the moment, keeping in mind that Andy Warhol would agree there are worse reasons to call in sick for work. g


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READERS’ f CHOICES CHOCOLATIER

PATISSERIE

1. Thomas Haas Chocolates & Patisserie Various locations 2. Purdys Chocolatier Various locations 3. BETA5 Chocolates 409 Industrial Avenue

1. Thomas Haas Chocolates & Patisserie Various locations 2. Thierry, 1059 Alberni Street 3. Beaucoup Bakery & Café 2150 Fir Street

DESSERTS

1. Cobs Bread Various locations 2. Terra Breads Various locations 3. purebread (tie) Various locations 3. Livia (tie) 1399 Commercial Drive

1. Thierry 1059 Alberni Street 2. Minami (tie) 1118 Mainland Street 2. Trafiq Cafe and Bakery (tie) 4216 Main Street 3. Breka Bakery & Cafe Various locations

DOUGHNUT

OPEN 11 - 11 EVERY DAY

1. Cartems Donuts Various locations 2. Lucky’s Doughnuts Various locations 3. Lee’s Donuts 122-1689 Johnston Street, Granville Island

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SEPTEMBER 23 – 30 / 2021

24TH Annual

2021

BREAD BAKERY

GLUTEN-FREE BAKERY 1. Lemonade Gluten Free Bakery 3385 Cambie Street 2. The Gluten Free Epicurean 633 East 15th Avenue 3. Delish Gluten-Free Bakery Various locations

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24TH Annual

2021


GOLDEN PLATES

READERS’ f CHOICES OVERALL

RESTAURANT GROUP

1. Baan Lao Fine Thai Cuisine 4100 Bayview Street, Richmond 2. Minami 1118 Mainland Street 3. Chambar Restaurant 568 Beatty Street

1. Glowbal 2. Cactus Club Café 3. Aburi Restaurants

Superflux makes an instant impact in a challenging year

PATIO (LOCATION)

By Mike Usinger

NEW RESTAURANT 1. Baan Lao Fine Thai Cuisine 4100 Bayview Street, Richmond 2. Straight & Marrow 1869 Powell Street 3. Tutto Restaurant & Bar 901 Homer Street

FINE DINING 1. Baan Lao Fine Thai Cuisine 4100 Bayview Street, Richmond 2. Hawksworth Restaurant 801 West Georgia Street 3. Miku Vancouver 70–200 Granville Street

BISTRO 1. Les Faux Bourgeois 663 East 15th Avenue 2. Au Comptoir 2278 West 4th Avenue 3. Tableau Bar Bistro 1181 Melville Street

TH nual 24 An

2021

1. Tap & Barrel (Olympic Village) Various locations 2. Minami 1118 Mainland Street 3. Cactus Club Cafe (English Bay) (tie) Various locations 3. OEB Breakfast Co. (Yaletown) (tie) Various locations

PATIO (SERVICE) 1. Minami 1118 Mainland Street 2. OEB Breakfast Co. (tie) Various locations 2. Tap & Barrel (tie) Various locations 3. Water St. Cafe 300 Water Street

LEGENDARY RESTAURANT 1. White Spot Various locations 2. Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House 777 Thurlow Street 3. Minami, 1118 Mainland Street

E

ven before opening a physical location in the heart of industrial East Vancouver, Superflux Beer Company had a reputation for paying loving attention to detail. In a world where branding is everything, owners Adam Henderson and Matt Kohlen were the guys with the labels that hit a sweet spot between relentlessly tasteful pop-art and Wallpaper-chic cool. As for the beer in those beautifully decorated cans, Superf lux decided early on that it was going to do things a little differently, and then did precisely that with innovative IPA offerings. “Initially, we wanted to do things that we thought were, I suppose, close to experimental,” Henderson tells the Straight in an interview. “We wanted to try and push limits, even though we didn’t know exactly what those limits were. There were a lot of other breweries that looked the same in terms of what their branding was, or what their output was in terms of the liquid. That’s fine, because every town should have a brewery named af-

ter that town—one that makes a lager, a stout, and a pale ale. But we didn’t want to be that.” Superflux started out a half-decade ago, making its own beers on-site at established facilities like Callister Brewing and Strathcona Brewing. It didn’t take long to catch the attention of Vancouver’s craft community, with much of the initial buzz tied to Kohlen’s eye-catching label designs and a superior take on IPAs. “When we started at Callister, we found that IPA worked really well for us,” Henderson says. “First, no one at Callister at that time was making IPA, and people really like IPA—it’s the number-one selling craft beer. So that worked really great for us—to quickly become known as IPA folks. We always like hoppy beers, and felt that there was room to add more hoppy beers to B.C.” The downside was that tracking down a four-pack in stores or finding Superflux on tap was sometimes like an Easter egg hunt. But when you scored, the paysee next page

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from previous page

off was doubly satisfying. Things have changed today. Flash forward a few years, and—following a name change—the company’s unique vision has led to a physical location in East Vancouver. And, speaking volumes about how excited beer fans are about Superflux having a permanent home, that spot has taken home a Best New Brewery in this year’s Straight Golden Plates awards. Somewhat ironically, despite always having a clear vision, Henderson and Kohlen learned pretty quickly that sometimes it’s best not to overthink things, especially when things are out of one’s control. After realizing they were onto something, the two looked into trademarking the name Machine Ales, only to be told by lawyers that would be difficult. “A lot of people in beer don’t trademark their name, but we really wanted to build a brand so that we had something we could invest in,” Henderson says. “We were kind of dejected because we’d spent a year making a bit of a name for ourselves. So anyway, we came up with a list of names, and Superflux was the one that we both liked. “It didn’t really come from anywhere, and didn’t necessarily mean all that much at the time,” he continues, “but we said ‘Superflux! That’s it.’ We started making some labels, and made two different beers based on the ones we’d been making at Callister—Colour &

Superflux cofounders Matt Kohlen (left) and Adam Henderson have successfully pushed boundaries with beers like Heavy Fruit and Fountainbier.

Shape and Happyness. And, even though they’ve evolved a little bit, those are still our two core beers today.” As we’ve all learned over the past pan-

READERS’ f CHOICES VIEW

GLUTEN-FREE FRIENDLY

1. Seasons in the Park Queen Elizabeth Park (West 33rd at Cambie) 2. Miku Vancouver 70–200 Granville Street 3. The Boathouse Restaurant Various locations

1. Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co. (tie) Various locations 1. OEB Breakfast Co. (tie) Various locations 1. JUKE Fried Chicken (tie) 182 Keefer Street 1. Heirloom (tie) Various locations 1. Brewhall (tie) 97 East 2nd Avenue 2. Miku Vancouver (tie) 70–200 Granville St. 2. The Acorn (tie) 3995 Main Street 2. Water St. Cafe (tie) 300 Water Street

RESTAURANT FOR SEAFOOD 1. Blue Water Cafe 1095 Hamilton Street 2. Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House 777 Thurlow Street 3. Minami 1118 Mainland Street

FOOD TRUCK 1. 2. 3. 3.

Tacofino Chickpea Japadog (tie) Shameless Buns (tie)

VEGAN-FRIENDLY 1. MeeT Restaurants Various locations 2. The Acorn 3995 Main Street 3. Chickpea (tie) 4298 Main Street 3. Heirloom (tie) Various locations

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CASINO RESTAURANT 1. The Victor 39 Smithe Street 2. Atlas Steak + Fish Various locations 3. Honey Salt at Parq 39 Smithe Street

MOST ROMANTIC 1. Seasons in the Park Queen Elizabeth Park (West 33rd at Cambie) 2. Baan Lao Fine Thai Cuisine 4100 Bayview Street, Richmond 3. Minami 1118 Mainland Street

SEPTEMBER 23 – 30 / 2021

demic year, life can be unpredictable. Henderson and Kohlen learned that after they decided to stop brewing at facilities owned by other folks and instead set up their own operation. Initially they planned on opening in the District of North Vancouver. When red tape made things too complicated, they were able to get out of a lease and refocus, settling on an East Van space formerly occupied by a printing shop. “Just as we were exiting that place this place came onto the market,” Henderson says. “We looked at it and went ‘It’s bigger—twice as big as we thought we wanted’, but the lease rate was good and the landlord really wanted a brewery. So we went ‘Let’s just do it, and we’ll figure out how we’ll pay for it.’” Just as the finish line was in sight for the opening of Superflux, COVID-19 hit. The brewing tanks showed up on March 17, 2020, which also happened to be the day that all restaurants and bars were forced to close because of the pandemic. “That meant that half of our customers would be gone,” Henderson remembers. “We didn’t even know when we’d be allowed to open. It was supposed to be a really happy day. It’s kind of brewery opening day when the tanks show up—you take videos and photos of these big shiny beautiful objects. Instead it was a bittersweet day and very strange. If you’d told me what was going to happen prior to that day, I probably would have very seriously tried to get out of this venture.” Now, Henderson and Kohlen couldn’t be happier at how things have unfolded. With a dedicated fan base already in place, Superflux had zero trouble attracting customers when its tasting room and then

The lease rate was good and the landlord really wanted a brewery. – Adam Henderson

kitchen opened in the summer of last year. While the business model has changed with a permanent location, the core of the operation remains the same. Kohlen continues to design Superflux’s labels, and the brewery continues to amaze beer fans with its risk-taking. If you’ve been lucky enough to sit down with innovative offerings like Heavy Fruit (think sour meets smoothie), Peach Gummy Fountainbier (made with milk sugar, or Coconuts (a hazy dryhopped IPA) then you understand why Straight readers named Superflux Best New Brewery. “I’m really happy the way that things have turned out,” Henderson gushes. “We’re in a really great building and we were able to come up with a really cool space. It fits in the neighbourhood. We have a component where we’re kind of a downtown brand. We wouldn’t be the right fit if we were in a community with only one brewery. We’re a bit niche, so we love being where there’s tons of breweries. We’re in the middle of it all just doing our thing, and that’s worked out really well for us.” g


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GOLDEN PLATES

Rice bowls bring the taste of Manila to Squamish

S

by Carlito Pablo

tacy Thomas wasn’t much into rice before she got to know Nicki Zamora, a Manila-born and New York–trained chef. That was in the summer of 2019, and at the time, Thomas was taking up a creativewriting program at UBC. For her part, Zamora was working as head chef of the Field & Social salad-bar chain in Vancouver. “It definitely was not a staple in my life until I met Nicki and she started introducing me to Filipino food,” Thomas said about rice on the phone with Zamora for an interview with the Straight. They became a couple, and not long after, in 2020, the two moved from East Vancouver to Squamish, where they opened Cul De Sac Kitchen later the same year. The takeout and food-delivery business operates at the Klahanie Campground off the Sea to Sky Highway (36583 Darrell Bay Road). Clients can also have their meals at picnic tables outdoors. Cul De Sac Kitchen specializes in organic-rice and rice-noodle bowls with a selection of toppings. It goes by the slogan “Rice Is Life”, which reflects the culinary tradition Zamora grew up with. Rice is part of the daily life of many Fili-

The Kanto Bowl is found on street corners in the Philippines; at the Cul De Sac Kitchen, it includes pork, pineapple, pickled red onions and carrots, grape tomatoes, spinach, and green onions.

pinos, whether they’re in their native land or elsewhere in the world. The staple is eaten for breakfast, lunch,

and dinner as a companion to meat, fish, and vegetable dishes. Rice is also used as an ingredient in

many desserts. “Just like life, rice can be tough or sticky or just perfect,” Zamora told the Straight. Cul De Sac Kitchen is the latest chapter in the culinary journey of Zamora, which started when she left Manila more than 20 years ago. She went to New York City to study at the Institute of Culinary Education. Later, she apprenticed at various restaurants in the city. Zamora continued on to Toronto in 2004, where she took sous chef and head chef roles in a number of establishments. She returned to the Philippines in 2010 and started teaching at the Academy for International Culinary Arts in Manila. In 2013, Zamora came to Vancouver and became head chef at Koerner’s Pub in UBC. She also helped the owners of the pub open Loafe Café at the university, and Café MOA at the Museum of Anthropology. Life with Zamora has made Thomas a rice lover. “I’m excited to see exploring this with her and sharing her culture,” said Thomas, who is a journalist with the community paper Squamish Chief. Zamora does most of the food preparations at Cul De Sac Kitchen. The venture has see next page

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Nicki Zamora and Stacy Thomas opened the Cul De Sac Kitchen in the midst of a pandemic.

also allowed Thomas to rediscover baking. Thomas developed a hand-pie recipe for dessert using ube (pronounced ooh-beh). It’s purple yam, a favourite ingredient in many Filipino sweets like ube halaya jam, cakes, ice cream, and halo-halo, a mix of shaved ice, milk, candied fruits, jellies, and often topped with leche flan milk custard. “It’s allowed me to express my own creativity in the kitchen and connect with the young me, who used to love baking and making up recipes for my family to try,” Thomas said. At the Klahanie Campground, which offers majestic views of Howe Sound, Stawamus Chief, and Shannon Falls, Zamora brings a taste of Manila to her rice bowls. One selection is the Kanto Bowl, which is topped with Filipino-style barbecued pork and veggie spring roll. It also comes

with pineapple, house-made pickled red onions and carrot, grape tomatoes, spinach, and green onion. The word kanto is Filipino for “street corner”, where grilled meats on skewers and other street food are often found in the Philippines. For her meat marinade, Zamora uses banana ketchup, which is a favoured marinating sauce among many Filipinos, and kombucha vinegar. Also on the menu is the Manila Bowl, with roasted eggplant simmered in coconut cream and tamari, a Japanese sauce much like Chinese soy sauce. Zamora said that Cul De Sac Kitchen’s popular offerings also include the Kari Bowl or Thai green curry, the Greek-inspired Opa Bowl, and the Rambla Bowl, which is her take on paella, the famous Spanish rice dish. The eatery gets pork and free-range eggs from Stony Mountain Farm in Squamish. The establishment also procures meat from Two Rivers Specialty Meats in North Vancouver, which sources its products from B.C. farmers. Food has been very central to the life shared by Thomas and Zamora. “We’ve been together for two years, and we both love to eat,” Thomas said. When they were starting out as a couple, they liked exploring new restaurants and visiting hole-in-the-wall eateries. “We talk about food probably 24-7,” Thomas said. g

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ARTS

Heart of the City releases lineup details for 2021

V

by Steve Newton

ancouver’s 18th annual Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival has announced its lineup for 2021. Presented by Vancouver Moving Theatre, the festival will run from October 27 to November 7 at various locations in the DTES, with online events as well. Highlights include: * We Live Here, October 27 to 29, Jack Chow Insurance parking lot: a dramatic, large-scale video project created by 30 Downtown Eastside visual artists working with a curatorial team of Jerry Whitehead, Wendy Peeters, and Jared Sharpe. * #whatnow, October 28 to 31 and November 3 to 7, Russian Hall: a multiperspective documentary theatre and dance cre-

ation about the #metoo movement. * Walking Tours in Chinatown, October 30: join local historian John Atkin on a walk through historic laneways of Chinatown. * My Art Is Activism: Part III, November 2, online: Downtown Eastside documentarian Sid Chow Tan shares selections from his archival video collection. * DTES Front & Centre: In Memory of Joyce Morgan, November 2, online: a Downtown Eastside community music showcase honouring Joyce Morgan, a pianist and longtime and beloved Carnegie Community Centre volunteer. * Indigenous Journeys: Solos by Three Women, November 3, online: new solos by Downtown Eastside–involved women Indigenous Journeys: Solos by Three Women, taking place on November 3, will feature new solos in an online format, including a piece by Gunargie O’Sullivan. Photo by David Cooper.

Priscillia Mays Tait (Gitxsan/Wet’suwet’en), Kat Zu’comulwat Norris (Lyackson First Nation), and Gunargie O’Sullivan. * Openings: A Cultural Sharing, November 3 to 6, Firehall Arts Centre: join storyteller Rosemary Georgeson (Coast Salish/Sahtu Dene) and Firehall artistic producer Donna Spencer as they host cultural sharings about

resilience, hope, and humour by Indigenous elders and artists from different nations. * Grace Eiko Thomson: Chiru Sakura (Falling Cherry Blossoms), November 4, Massy Arts Gallery: esteemed elder and activist Grace Eiko Thomson reads and talks about her book Chiru Sakura (Falling Cherry Blossoms). g

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ARTS

Spencer Rice ponders the legacy of Kenny vs. Spenny by Steve Newton

The last time Spencer “Spenny” Rice played Vancouver, he appeared with bit players from Trailer Park Boys who “dabbed” him so hard that he couldn’t play guitar. Photo by Bryan Egan.

W

hen Canadian comedian Spencer Rice picks up the phone at his home in Kingston, Ontario, to talk about his upcoming shows in B.C., another Canadian comedian is the first topic of conversation. Just a day earlier, beloved Canuck comic Norm Macdonald had died, much to the dismay of his devoted fans, who weren’t aware that he’d been battling cancer for years. Earlier that morning, Rice had done an interview with a Calgary radio station about Macdonald, with whom he’d once hung out in Santa Monica. “We had a mutual friend,” says a downcast-sounding Rice. “I’d seen him live several times and, yeah—I was surprised and upset by that news, because like everybody else, I had no idea that he was ill. In fact, I thought he was working, and I think he was working pretty much up till the end with his Netflix show. And I think he was even planning tours still. “Sarah Silverman tweeted that he is his own genre within comedy,” Rice adds, “and I kind of agree with her. He was very experimental, and as a comedian myself I try to understand the math of people’s acts, and his was very interesting and compli-

cated in many ways. So, yeah, [his death is a] terrible blow to the comedy world.” Rice’s own comedy was inspired by the work of edgy artists like Macdonald and Silverman—not to mention Richard Pryor, Andy Kaufman, Tom Green, and Sam Kinison. He’s taking his latest show, Spennaissance Man, on the road to Western Canada, with six B.C. dates scheduled. “It’s basically a comedy show where I talk to the audience, obviously, and I show clips of my career. I guess the modus operandi, creatively, is to sort of get out from under the reputation garnered for myself from Kenny vs. Spenny. There’s some comedic songs and the clips and my version of standup.” When things like a worldwide pandemic don’t slow him down, Rice does quite a bit of touring—so much so that his previous gigs are “a bit of a blur”. That’s was definitely the case with his last appearance in Vancouver, when he got too baked to boogie. “The last time I performed in Vancouver, I was on tour with a couple of the bit players from the Trailer Park Boys,” he recalls, “and my show was interesting in that I was given what’s called a—I don’t know if

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from previous page

you smoke dope, I’m not a big dope smoker—but I was given what’s called a ‘dab’. And they kinda screwed me and gave me a two-gram dab in one inhale, and I couldn’t play guitar because I was so high. It was awful. And I was pretty upset about it, but I ended up walking on-stage and just telling the whole story about how I got ‘dabbed’, and that seemed to be enough.” For those who may not be aware of the Spencer Rice story, he’s best known for costarring with Kenny Hotz in the aforementioned Kenny vs. Spenny, the cult Canadian comedy show they created, which ran for six seasons, first on CBC Television in 2003 and then on Showcase from 2005 to 2010. The format of the show had lifelong friends Rice and Hotz facing each other in various lamebrained competitions, with the loser of each episode having to perform an act of humiliation, usually selected by the winner. The show was often

A lot of the stuff we did, I’m not so sure any network would want to risk airing it. – Spencer “Spenny” Rice

shot inside the house they shared in their hometown of Toronto. Since Kenny vs. Spenny ended, Rice has been involved with several other projects, including the 2011 Showcase series Single White Spenny, 2013’s documentary series X-Rayted, and last year’s quarantine-shot CBC Gem special, Kenny and Spenny Paldemic Special. He had to keep working, because it wasn’t as if he could just rest on

his laurels and those fat stacks of Kenny vs. Spenny cash. “Without getting too into my personal life,” he explains, “I had some issues with money and a divorce and I’m not as wealthy as people think I am or what the Internet says. But I did make a lotta money. Lawyers got a lot of it but, regardless, I just love working in the creative world, so it doesn’t really make a difference to me. Although I’d love to have some of that money back.” When it comes to explaining the popularity of Kenny vs. Spenny, Rice has a pretty good idea what drew people to it in the first place—and kept them coming back. “I think it works almost subliminally on sort of the good-versus-evil battle,” he says, “and people relating to friends they have that might be a little like me or a little like Kenny. And then, of course, it was funny. And it was funny, I think, because both Kenny and I are comedy nerds who grew up watching a lot of British comedy, being Canadian, and then SCTV and just all of the comedy that we got to ingest. I guess we put it into our computer banks in our brains and we discovered that we were a real-life comedy duo in terms of he was sort of the wild[man] and I was sort of the straight man. And it wasn’t an act. We really were those guys, which is good—and pathetic at the same time.” When asked to name his favourite Kenny vs. Spenny episodes, Rice points to “Who Can Blow the Biggest Fart?”, “Who Can Keep a Dead Octopus on Their Head the Longest?”, and “Who Can Stay Naked the Longest?”. “Those three could go toeto-toe with any comedy shows in the history of television,” he claims. As far as which humiliation was the worst experience for him, dedicated KvsS fans would be forgiven for thinking that the one where Spenny has the bacterial scrapings from Kenny’s tongue transferred to his might be top of the list.

But they’d be wrong. “I obviously get this question a lot,” Rice says. “And you have to take into consideration that in the early years, I wasn’t accustomed to being on TV—never mind doing a humiliating act on television. So there was one episode, I don’t remember the competition, but I lost—or he cheated; that’s a whole other argument. Anyways, I had to do the humiliation and they took me up to this little dingy apartment and there was a transvestite who tied me up to a rack and then he whipped me. “And I just remember…it was very early on in the series, and I’m in my underwear, strapped to this thing like a crucifix, and we’ve got this guy—a man with a wig and dress on, just whipping me—and then Kenny says, ‘I’m gonna pull your underwear off.’ There were cameras there, obviously, and I was just absolutely terrified. He didn’t do it, but he pretended to, and I got so upset that I broke the guy’s rack, which I think cost about $2,000 to replace.” Those who pine for the days of Spenny’s rack-busting ways will just have to keep on pining, it seems. The 58-year-old funnyman offers no good news when asked when the next season of Kenny vs. Spenny starts shooting. “Well, we always thought it would be hilarious if we’re in our seventies or eighties and we’re still running around in our underwear doing stupid competitions, but, you know, the reality is that people—and I know this from being on social media for years—they seem to think that we can control things. That all we have to do is want to do a series and we can make it happen. Nothing could be further from the truth. “You have to remember,” he adds, “society has changed, and show business has changed a lot since we’ve been off the air. There’s been the Me Too movement, all the snowf lakes and the justice warriors. That’s another huge thing, for me, the sort of muzzling of comedians really makes me angry. I’ve always liked edgy comedy. And a lot of the stuff we did, I’m not so sure any network would want to risk airing it.” g The Spennaissance Man tour includes stops at The American in Vancouver on September 28, the White Hart Public House in Surrey on September 29, the Main Street Nightclub in Chilliwack on September 30, Darcy’s Pub in Victoria on October 1, the Queen’s in Nanaimo on October 2, and Buffalo Bill’s in Whistler on October 3.

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SEPTEMBER 23 – 30 / 2021

#BOV2021


ARTS

B.C. waters cast a spell on artist David Haughton

A

by Charlie Smith

rtist David Haughton doesn’t consciously seek out objects to paint. Rather, he responds to things that he sees, sometimes while strolling the shoreline along Burrard Inlet or on trips to Tofino with his wife. In a phone interview with the Straight, he said that he has particularly fond memories of when he lived within walking distance of Jericho Beach. He had just moved to Vancouver from the United States in 1991 and was working as a pediatrician and painting part-time. “It was exhilarating any time of the day or night that you went there with all the windsurfers, all the huge boats, and the light hitting the mountains or hitting the boats,” Haughton said. He would marvel over how the snow looked on the mountains and how the view would be transformed by changes in the seasons. “Any time I went, it was something visual, at least, that triggered in my mind: ‘Jeez, I want to paint that.’ ” Haughton painted ships, massive cranes, windsurfers, sailboats, and many, many sunsets. He hoped to convey the emotions and the wonder that he felt to anyone who looked at his art. “I do tend to do a lot of dawns and sunsets because it evokes the most nostalgia in me,” Haughton said. On Thursday (September 23), Haughton will include more than 50 of his paintings in an exhibition called Ships, Mountains & the Sea V at VisualSpace Gallery in the Dunbar-Southlands neighbourhood. He said that he liked the title because of its rhythm, which reminded him of a Greek poem. Plus, it’s a broad enough title to enable him to include a wide range of images, including kite-surfing at Nitinaht Lake on the western side of Vancouver Island. When asked how he describes himself as a painter, Haughton paused for a moment. Then he pointed out that most of his paintings nowadays are acrylic on multimedia artboard. He likened it to watercolour paper, with rag fibres and some plastic resin mixed in, which makes these works of art hold together well. “Purportedly, it’s archival, so we could meet in 500 years and find it if it really worked,” he said. His approach involves painting colours, scraping some of it off, and placing a layer of glaze on top, then repeating this several times. By doing this, he said, the colours resemble pastels as he layers on the paint. As he covers some parts with acrylic, he leaves spaces in between as it dries. “Those interstices are relatively random and I leave some in the large open sections—like the water or the sky,” Haughton explained.

Artist David Haughton’s Nitinaht Lake II (Looking North) on multimedia arboard is one of the paintings in his Ships, Mountains & the Sea V exhibition.

According to him, these little openings cause people to become more curious about the paintings. “It presents a problem for them to solve,” he said. “There is one missing win-

dow. There’s a gap in the wall. There’s a gap in the sky. It grabs you and you have to look at it for a beat or two longer.” g David Haughton’s exhibition, Ships, Mountains

& the Sea V, will be shown at VisualSpace Gallery (3352 Dunbar Street) from noon to 5 p.m. daily. People are encouraged to contact the gallery in advance at 604-559-0576 to schedule a visit and to wear a mask before entering this space.

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VIFF / TELEVISION

Five Canadian films to watch in VIFF Short Forum

T

by Charlie Smith

here are few pleasures in life that can match the feeling of being riveted by a feature-length movie. But for many film lovers, it’s tough to find the time to do this between parenting, perhaps looking after their own parents, and making a living in an expensive city. Fortunately, the Vancouver International Film Festival is presenting a long list of shorter productions in its VIFF Short Forum, which is showcasing Canadian directors. “The Untouchable”, directed by Avazeh Shahnavaz, features standout performances by Nika Shahbazzadeh and Payam Ahmadinia. Shahbazzadeh plays Yassi, a troubled and seemingly psychotic young woman running in and out of traffic until she’s confronted by Sgt. Jabbari, played by Ahmadinia. Over the course of a tense 15 minutes, the film explores such universal themes as policing mental illness, misogyny, and belonging. A 10-minute world premiere at VIFF, “Indigenous Dads”, features four fathers, including Salteaux director Peter Brass, talking about childhood, fatherhood, worries, hopes, and gifts that came with having children. Brass juxtaposes images of the dads with their kids in a touching exploration of how people can gain greater empathy after becoming parents. Underlying this are the

Yassi (Nika Shahbazzadeh) is a confused young woman wandering through traffic and creating disturbances before police arrive in director Avazeh Shahnavaz’s short film “The Untouchable”.

fears these dads feel about the discrimination that their children may encounter. Mina Shum’s world premiere at VIFF, “Without You”, is a five-minute film poem driven by words and images. Brent Belke’s original music and Shum’s delivery evoke feelings of loneliness and, at times, sadness, which are reinforced by

stark images of empty rooms and empty streets. If you want to know how a pandemic feels, check this one out. A fourth world premiere at VIFF, Lewis Bennett’s 10-minute “Canucks Riot I”, takes viewers back to the seventh game of the 1994 Stanley Cup finals between the New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks. Hockey

fans will revel in seeing former Rangers great Rod Gilbert offering his views in the broadcast booth in advance of the game, which provoked Vancouver’s first hockey riot after the Canucks lost 3-2. The street scenes aren’t pretty, with the heavy hand of Vancouver police on display for everyone to see. Bennett’s pairing of what was happening on the ice with what was occurring near the corner of Robson and Thurlow is a reminder of what can unfold when the cops show up in riot gear. A fifth film in the VIFF Short Forum, “Jean Swanson: We Need a New Map”, is a joyful reflection on how the city councillor and longtime antipoverty activist sees the world—and how this has influenced her young admirers in Vancouver. Directed by Teresa Alfeld, this eight-minute short has wonderful footage of a young Swanson explaining how she made the switch from slinging beers in the Downtown Eastside to electoral politics. At times, it’s riotously funny, with some wonderful Swanson zingers. “I’ve been involved in a lot of things that weren’t successful,” she admits at one point. If only we witnessed this level of humility in all of our elected officials. g The Vancouver International Film Festival runs from October 1 to 11. For more information, visit VIFF.org.

New TV shows coming to small screens in October

I

by Norm Wilner

INVASION

t sounds like we’ll be going out a lot more this fall than we did in 2020—and thanks for that, science!— but we’re still going to be coming home and watching stuff, that’s just how human beings work. Here’s what we’re looking forward to on TV this month.

Apple is treating Simon Kinberg and David Weil’s global take on an alien invasion—following characters around the world as they experience the end of everything they know—as the second coming of Lost, keeping everything as mysterious as possible. But we do know that the cast includes Golshifteh Farahani, Sam Neill, and Canada’s Shamier Anderson, so we’re on board. October 22, Apple TV+

SORT OF

Fresh from its Toronto International Film Festival premiere, Bilal Baig and Fab Filippo’s eight-episode series about a gender-fluid millennial nanny—played by Baig as the first nonbinary lead on Canadian television—debuts on CBC’s Gem service a full month ahead of its broadcast premiere on CBC proper. October 5, CBC Gem

INSECURE (SEASON 5)

Issa Rae’s HBO series comes to an end this season, reuniting the producer/star and Yvonne Orji for one last ride as Issa and Molly, Los Angeles–based best friends whose relationship threatened to unravel last season. No one’s talking about how it ends, for obvious reasons, but all of this year’s episode titles end with “okay?” so we hope that’s a good sign. October 24, HBO Canada and Crave

BAKING IMPOSSIBLE

No disrespect to The Great Canadian Baking Show— which returns for a fifth season October 17 with hosts Ann Pornel and Alan Shane Lewis, by the way—but that perfectly charming series does not team its bakers with structural engineers to create, say, “an edible skyscraper that must withstand a simulated quake”. This we have to see. October 6, Netflix CANADA’S DRAG RACE (SEASON 2)

Speaking of reality/competition shows, the Canadian Screen Award–winning celebration of focused fierceness and fabulosity roars back for another season this 36

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Simon Kinberg and David Weil’s Invasion probes what might take place if unwanted visitors from outer space arrived on Earth,

fall, putting 12 new queens through their paces. Judges Amanda Brugel, Brad Goreski, Brooke Lynn Hytes, and Traci Melchor will be “joined every week by a celebrity guest judge”, which makes us question the very concept of celebrity. October 14, Crave

SEPTEMBER 23 – 30 / 2021

COLIN IN BLACK & WHITE

Another series that received a splashy launch at TIFF, Ava DuVernay’s hybrid documentary series tackles future football activist Colin Kaepernick’s high-school years, with Jaden Michael playing the young Colin. The real Kaepernick is here as cocreator, executive producer, and narrator, so it’ll be interesting to see how authentic the show is to its subject’s lived experience. October 29, Netflix g


SEPTEMBER 23 – 30 / 2021

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b I’M A 26-YEAR-OLD masculine straight guy who loves exploiting the fantasies so many gay men have about straight men. When a gay guy is into me because I look like his straight-masculine-jock dream, it’s a power trip like no other. It’s always a specific type of bottom gay dude I seek out when I get on Grindr: a very feminine “thicc” guy with a pretty face and physical features begging for a dick. The kind of guy where from the right angles you can’t tell the difference between his big ass and a thicc chick’s big ass. And I always follow the same script: I send my dick pics, I make one of these thicc bottom boys want me, and I tell him to send me a video of him twerking like a stripper for me. But I don’t go through with the meetup. I’ve experimented a few times and have gotten head from a few guys, but I have no interest in dick or fucking one of these dudes. I don’t want to harm anyone or live a lie, but I don’t feel queer or bisexual at all. I actually feel like I’m “earning my heterosexuality” when I do this. It’s like I’m proving to myself just how straight I am by teasing these gay guys. And in all honestly, I feel like I’m doing them a service because a lot of gay guys are looking for that rare, mythical thing—the straight and strict Dom top—and I can play that role. But on some level, this all seems pretty fucked up and I don’t know why I do this and sometimes I’m confused by it. I also worry this comes from a homophobic place. (“Look at this dumb twink: he’s so stupid and obsessed with dick, he’ll do whatever I tell him to; I’m the alpha.”) And I guess it is homophobic, because when you remove the intensity and power trip of being the straight male in this scenario, I just have no interest in guys at all. I know this was heavy. Sorry. But please answer my question. - Ally Loves Personifying Homophobic Assholes

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any major problems with this, and I’m not fully clear on what he perceives his problem to be,” said Cheves, the Info:Alexander nar-anonbcregion.org famed gay sex writer, author, and columnist. “For gay men, straight men can be a kink, and the reverse can also be true. Regardless of how he identifies, ALPHA enjoys dominating feminine gay men, who he ultimately denies. Sexual withholding—denying and being denied sex—is part of many fetishes and is really hot. RECOVERY International FEAR? DEPRESSION? PANIC ATTACKS? So this guy’s kink involves withholding and, RECOVERY International Feelings that keep you from really living your life? FEAR? DEPRESSION? ATTACKS? A way outrole-play. is where PANIC we come in. rolelike many kinks, Feelings it involves He’s that keepmeetings. you from Call reallyforliving Weekly info:your life? A strict way out isDom where 778-554-1026 we come”in. playing as ‘the straight top.’ 9am - 5pm Kathy Weekly meetings. Call for info: www.recoverycanada.org And that’s fine, ALPHA. are lots of 9am - 5pm There Kathy 778-554-1026 www.recoverycanada.org gay men who are into “straight strict Dom Sex Addicts Anonymous 12-step fellowship of menAnonymous & women who share tops”, and you’re giving them something Sex Addicts their experience, strength and hope with each 12-step fellowship of men them & women who share they want. You’re not giving everyother, that they may solve their common their experience, strength and hope withproblem each and help others recover from their sexual other, that they maynot solve their common problem thing they want,addiction.Membership but you’re obligated to. is open to all who desire to and help others recover from their sexual addictive sexual behaviour. a meeting list “We all enterstop Grindr chats willingly, and addiction.Membership is open to For all who desire to asaddictive well as email & behaviour. phone contacts go to ourlist sexual For awe meeting we should do so stop knowing that anyone talk as wellwebsite. as emailwww.saavancouver.org & phone contacts go to our website. www.saavancouver.org to may have no plans of following through SEXAHOLICS ANONYMOUS - Vancouver, BC with their promises meet,” said. For SEXAHOLICS those to desiring their ownCheves sexual sobriety, please ANONYMOUS - Vancouver, BC go those to www.sa.org for meetings times and places. For desiring their own sexual sobriety, please “Many queer men do the same...The guys he We are here to help youmeetings from being overwhelmed. go to www.sa.org for times and places. are welcomed. areNewcomers here to helpwith yougratefully from being overwhelmed. is messaging areWechatting him consenare gratefully welcomed. sually, so I don’t seeNewcomers any consent violations.” Now, if you were uploading or sharing the video clips these guys make without their knowledge, ALPHA, that would be a very

Careers Careers Electra Fix Appliance Repair LTD Electra Fix Appliance Repair LTD is seeking seeking an is an Office Office administrator administrator F/T Perm (40 F/T Perm (40 hrs/w), hrs/w), Wage: Wage: $26.50 $26.50 per per hour hour Main duties: duties: Ensure Ensure the the smooth smooth running running of of an an Main office, Carry out administrative activities office, Carry out administrative activities of of the the company, company, Oversee Oversee office office administrative administrative proceprocedures, dures, Manage Manage work work schedules, schedules, Be Be responsible responsible for for office office services, services, resolve resolve complaints, complaints, answer answer queries, queries, Requisition Requisition new new equipment equipment and and supplies, supplies, Maintain Maintain records records and and databases, databases, Maintain Maintain inventory inventory and and budgetary budgetary controls, controls, Prepare Prepare documentation. documentation. Requirements: Requirements: Secondary Secondary school. school. Experience: Experience: 2-3 2-3 years years in a related position, Good English. Business address and job location: 2120 - 950 Seaborne Ave, Port Coquitlam, BC V3E 3G7 Please apply by e-mail: electrafixappliance@gmail.com

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Tricom Building Maintenance Ltd. Tricom Building Maintenance Ltd. is looking for a BC Regional Operations is looking for a BC Regional Operations Manager. Perm, F/T, $90,000 annually Manager. Perm, F/T, $90,000 annually Requirements: 3-5 years of work exp. as a Requirements: 3-5 years of work exp. as a Senior Senior manager, manager, 2-3 2-3 year year college college program, program, Excellent English. Excellent English. Main Main duties duties and and responsibilities: Organize responsibilities: Organize company's company's operations operations in in BC, BC, Implement Implement growth growth strategies strategies in the region, Determine objectives, in the region, Determine objectives, Oversee Oversee timelines timelines and and schedules, schedules, Manage Manage recruitment, recruitment, communication communication and and training training strategies, strategies, Select Select and and supervise supervise middle middle managers, managers, Establish Establish financial financial and and administrative administrative controls, controls, Create Create and and oversee oversee company's company's budget, budget, Represent Represent the the company company in in BC, BC, Analyze Analyze accounting accounting and and financial financial data, data, Report Report to to National Operations Manager Company’s business address and job location: 307 – 1477 West Pender St. Vancouver, BC V6G 2S3 Please apply to hr@tricomservice.com

The Compassionate Friends (TCF) Burnaby serious consent violation. It would also be a man who does the same? Not really. This TCF is a grief support group for parents who have experienced the loss of acould child, at any crime in many places. But if feeling powerbeage.his inlet, his way into queerness, The Compassionate Friends (TCF) Burnaby Meet the last Wednesday of the month at 7:00 p.m. is a grief support group for parents who have ful and/or powerfully desiredTCFis you version of same-sex attraction.” For all location call Grace:his 778-222-0446 experienced the loss of a child, at any age. "Weboys Need Not Walk Alone" want, ALPHA, and these femme And if you were to decide you are some Meet thicc the last Wednesday of the month at 7:00 p.m. Heart of Richmond - AIDS Society Forcompassionatecircle@hotmail.com location call Grace: 778-222-0446 are willing tosupport meetgroup that need forBurnaby@TCFCanada.net you, there’s kind of gay or some kind of bi or a whole www.tcfcanada.net operates a confidential for persons "We Need Not Walk Alone" with or persons compassionatecircle@hotmail.com nothing with what you’re Van doing. of&heteroflexible, ALPHA, you wouldn’t HeartHIV/AIDS, ofwrong Richmond - AIDS affected Society Society for Sexuality,lot Gender Culture (family,afriends or care givers)group by thefor disease. Burnaby@TCFCanada.net www.tcfcanada.net operates confidential support persons Educational group with monthly meetings are Dom top who liked feminine “Even For the info - homophobia 604-277-5137 be the first with HIV/AIDS, or persons affected bit is not alarming planned for: 1stfor Tuesday of each month, 6:30 PM www.heartofrichmond.com Van Society Sexuality, Gender & Culture friends or care givers) by the disease. to(family, me,” Cheves said. “Shame,8:30 stigma, and gay men but had zero interest in dick. Some PM Vancouver Library -meetings Firehall Branch Educational groupPublic with monthly are For info - 604-277-5137 Anorexics & Bulimics Anonymous 1455 W 10th Ave (by Granville St next to the IBD Support Group planned for: 1st Tuesday of each month, 6:30 PM - are fine prejudice have their place in many fetishes. gay bottoms withprogram topswhich who www.heartofrichmond.com 12 Stepplaying based peer support Firehall) All are welcome, and we are looking for Suffer from Crohn's and ulcerative colitis? 8:30 PM Vancouver Public Library - Firehall Branch addresses the mental, emotional, & Anorexicsgay & Bulimics BoardMembers Health, with IBD canSupport often beGroup overwhelming, ILiving think these things often but lead to1455 fetishes in(by the ignore some menAnonymous geteating off on W 10th Avefrom Granville StCounseling, next their to the dicks; spiritual IBD aspects of disordered 12 Step based peer support program which Education, and Business Professions you're not alone! 3rd Wed of each month the GI Firehall) All are welcome, and we are looking for dicks Suffer fromplace. Crohn's and ulcerative colitis? Tuesdays @ 7 pm Avalonemotional, Women's the first So long as ALPHA isn’t comhaving their ignored. And since &Centre some addresses the@mental, Info: Michael or Darren: VSSGC@yahoogroups.ca Society a free support group meeting for BoardMembers from the Health, Counseling, Livingholds with IBD canIBD often be overwhelming, but 5957 West Blvdof-disordered 604-263-7177 spiritual aspects eating patients their families to of come inthese anGI and Business Professions you're not&alone! 3rd Wed eachtogether month the mitting violence against menEducation, or caustrans men are gay and some trans gay Tuesdays @since 7 pm @ Avalon Women's Centre open, 7:00pm at #231 - 3665 Info: Michael or Darren: VSSGC@yahoogroups.ca Societyfriendly holds aenvironment. free IBD support group meeting for 5957 West&Blvd - 604-263-7177 Anorexics Bulimics Anonymous ing them harm, I don’t mind that he likes men are femme and since some trans men Kingsway. For more information call 604-873-4876 patients & their families to come together in an 12 Step based peer support program which open, friendly environment. 7:00pm at #231 - 3665 them. I call like guys are subs and since addresses not all transemotional, men—gay the mental, & Anorexics & Bulimics Anonymous Isdegrading your lifeFor affected by someone else's drug use?who degrade me Kingsway. more information 604-873-4876 spiritual aspects of disordered eating 12 bottom Step based peer support program which Nar-Anon Family Group Meeting and call me a faggot, and I don’t much care if or otherwise—get surgery, ALPHA, Tuesdays @ 7 pm Avalonemotional, Women's & Centre addresses the@mental, Every Friday 7:30-9:00else's pm drug use? Is your life affected by someone 5957lots West Blvd 604-263-7177 spiritual aspects eating out this fun part ofGroup my sex life comes from latent that means there are ofof-disordered gay men at Barclay Manor, 1447 Meeting Barclay Nar-Anon Family Tuesdays @ 7 pm @ Avalon Women's Centre Every Friday 7:30-9:00 pm homophobia in me or the men I play with.” Nar-Anon 604 878-8844 there without dicks for to-choose from. 5957 you West Blvd 604-263-7177 at Barclay Manor, 1447 Barclay There’s difference “But unless he calls himself gay, he’s not Nar-Anona 604 878-8844between screaming Battered Women's Support Services Support, Education & slurs Action Group Women homophobic at for someone on the street gay,” Cheves said. “Being gay or queer isn’t provides free daytime & evening support groups that have experienced male violence. Battered Women's Support Services & 10 week groups) for women abused by Support, Education &out Action Group for Women and gay men who enjoy what lin- really about the(Drop-ins chemical processes of arousal Call seeking Vancouver Rape Relief 604-872-8212 provides free partner. daytime &Groups evening support groups their intimate provide emotional that have experienced male violence. (Drop-ins & 10 legal week groups) for &women abusedto by support, advocacy, guist John McWhorter described on my pod- in the brain and body. It’sinformation aGroups willingness Call Vancouver Rape Relief 604-872-8212 their intimate partner. provide emotional safety planning, and referrals. support, legal information & advocacy, cast as “theatrical subjugation”. While homo- be one of us, to For claim oneself ascall: part of our more information please 604-687-1867 and referrals. phobia unquestionably shaped the desires tribe. If he doesn’t feelsafety theplanning, need that or For more information pleaseto call:do 604-687-1867 of the men who find your shtick appealing, thinks doing so would be disingenuous...then ALPHA, you’re not promoting homophobia he’s straight. As long as he’s doing no harm— or justifying homophobic violence. Indeed, just having hot, consensual Grindr chats with implicit in stepping into these roles—straight guys before ghosting them—he can be whatalpha top, gay submissive bottom—is your ever feels true for him.” ability and, more importantly, their ability to Alexander Cheves is a columnist for Out step right back out of these roles. While play- magazine and runs the popular Love, Beasting erotic games with homophobic themes ly advice blog. His new book My Love Is a won’t eradicate homophobia from the Earth, Beast: Confessions comes out next month. a gay guy who consents to this kind of “abuse” Follow him on Twitter @BadAlexCheves. gets to decide when it starts and when it stops. “If ALPHA’s problem is ‘confusion’—a My new book Savage Love From A to Z: concern that maybe he’s not fully straight— Advice on Sex and Relationships, Dating and that’s something neither of us can help Mating, Exes and Extras comes out this week him with, as that problem boils down to a from Sasquatch books. g foundational debate on what it means to be queer,” Cheves said. “Is there a discernible Email: mail@savagelove.net. Follow Dan on Twitter difference to an outsider between a straight @FakeDanSavage. Listen to the Savage Lovecast at man who titillates gay men for fun and a gay www.savage.love!

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