It's our fourth annual Made in Vancouver Awards, and food and drink makers across our great city have proven yet again that Vancouver is a truly delicious place to live. We're crowning 2022 the year of chilies (the spicy veg was the focus of many submissions, and three chili-centred goods earned either a win or an honourable mention this year). Vegan eats continue to be on the rise (bee-free honey? Yes please!) but local butchers stand strong (see: jalapeno cheddar bratwursts). Read on for the best sauces, spreads, grillables and drinks made right in your backyard.
Winner (Savoury): Me’s Chili Fish Sauce, Anh and Chi
There is much to love about Anh and Chi restaurant, and just about all of it is packed into this nước chấm sauce. It’s the “we put that sh*t on everything” of Vietnamese cooking: a time-honoured classic. The Main Street eatery that makes it is just as time-honoured: the biz first began as pho specialty shop Phở Hoàng in 1985 by owners Lý and Hoàng Nguyễn. The sauce is deeply rooted in family—a mother’s cherished recipe—just as the restaurant is, now taken over by Nguyễn children Amélie and Vincent. And, of course, it’s damn tasty.
A confession: Anh and Chi entered three micro-batched, hand-bottled sauces in our 2022 awards, and when it came to deciding the gold, they were fighting against themselves. The Sweet Soy Sauce and Artisan Peanut Sauce are spectacular, but, in the end, it was the Chili Fish Sauce that truly stole our judges’ hearts. The spicy/sweet blend has the perfect mix of acidity, sugar and fire—instead of a late-addition condiment, you’ll find yourself building entire meals around it. The restaurant first started producing the nước chấm in 2020 as a COVID necessity to keep cash flow up and the four-decade-old establishment afloat as restaurants were forced to shutter their doors. Every once in a while, we find a little silver lining in these trying times, and this sauce is it. To salad rolls, and beyond.
$9 (8 oz) and $15 (16 oz), anhandchi.com
Winner (Sweet): Salted Lemon and Nori Preserves, The Preservatory
It scooped the gold in this category, but these preserves dance the line between savoury and sweet for our judges: its careful blend of lemons, nori and sugar nearly defies categorization. However you identify it, it’s delicious. The Salted Lemon and Nori Preserves are a more elegant, indulgent and complex substitute for lemon: in salad dressing, fish, tea and cocktails.
Some look at preserves as backup plan for faulty fruit, but that’s not how The Preservatory rolls. Working with traditional copper kettles, the team cooks up fruit at its peak. (“If we wouldn’t eat it, we won’t use it for jam” is their philosophy.) And it shows. A little of this super-versatile product goes a long way, and it makes everything you add it to just a little more special. Plus, the lemon rind used in the preserves comes from offcuts of lemons juiced in-house—it’s a step toward zero-waste jammin’. The Preservatory celebrates their 20th anniversary this year, and we raise a glass (of salted lemon and nori martini, perhaps?) to them.
Winner (Drinks): Mojito 0% Alcohol, Edna’s Non-Alcoholic Cocktail Company
The non-alcoholic cocktail biz is growing, but in a game-changing move, this one actually tastes like the mojito it’s meant to be. Rather than straight-up sparkling water, Edna’s Mojito is made with apple cider shrub (a tart, vinegar-based drink), which provides a ton of complexity right off the bat. It tastes freshly muddled thanks to some very well-balanced Cuban mint, and a squeeze of lime transports you straight to summer. A surprising but subtle rum note seals the deal on authenticity and drinkability, rounding out any citrus-y sharpness. This is the ideal porch sipper for those looking for something a little less indulgent but still heavy on flavour (and it also makes for a pretty great mix if you’re looking to make the real thing). Our judges got hooked on the citrus-y paloma, too.
2022 Made in Vancouver Awards Honourable Mentions in Food and Drink
PSA to B.C. apples: abandon your flaky pie dreams—this honey is the ultimate sweet sacrifice. No bees are harmed in the making of this sticky goodness (the only ingredients are apple juice, apple cider vinegar and vegan sugar) and the end product is even better than the original: it’s delightfully fresh and subtly fruity.
This chili oil smacks you in the face (in a good way) with umami richness thanks to shoyu-marinated shiitake mushrooms. Chili, garlic, ginger, makrut lime leaves and lemongrass bring some hardcore aromatics, and the namesake burnt miso creates an almost-nutty flavour. It’s a topping that holds its own on everything from pasta to poke.
It’s hard not to fall instantly in love with Holy Duck’s cheeky name and adorable logo, but inside the jar you’ll find a family recipe perfected by three generations. This kickass, use-it-in-everything oil is made from local chili peppers and rendered duck fat, so it has a higher smoke point than other cooking oils—it’s spicy, crunchy, sweet and every kind of awesome.
You’ve heard of the song of the summer. Now presenting: the sausage of the summer. Oh-so-oozy cheese and a hot, pepper-y kick bursts from these ’wursts, and they’re incredibly BBQ- and beer-friendly. Plus, the company sources 75 percent of ingredients from within 100 miles of their Mount Pleasant store.
It’s no secret that Nuba’s Lebanese-style hummus is a Vancouver favourite. As always, the classic is incredibly smooth and dippable, but new flavours elevate the go-to spread: pomegranate molasses and sumac produce a zesty yet savoury bite, and the jalapeño spread rounds out the trio with lingering heat and herby freshness.
Alimentaria’s Zing! seasoning has all the tang and heat of the ever-popular Tajín that inspired it, but with an added depth courtesy of an array of native Mexican chilies. Made locally with lime and salt, this shaker makes for a punchy topping on fruit salad or a killer cocktail rim when you’re looking to raise the Scoville level on something sippable.