Five Canadian restaurants offering innovative and creative dishes have won this year’s University of Guelph Good Food Innovation Awards.

The annual awards recognize food professionals who use Canadian ingredients, create novel, healthy menu selections and follow sustainable management practices.

“These are chefs and restaurants that are the virtual homesteaders of Canadian cuisine,” said Anita Stewart, Canada’s first food laureate at U of G and founder of Cuisine Canada and Food Day Canada.

“In their evolution, they’ve travelled down different culinary pathways on extraordinary journeys that have led the way for others.”

 The judging panel included executive chefs and culinary instructors.

“The process is long and, although one might think relatively easy, it’s quite arduous,” Stewart said.

The Good Food Innovation Awards, launched in 2010, are sponsored by Stewart, the U of G President’s Office, the Ontario Agricultural College, and the College of Business and Economics.

Tied marks this year for gold and bronze medals meant that awards were presented to five Canadian restaurants — two in British Columbia, two in Quebec and one in Newfoundland.

For the third year in a row, the gold award went to Sooke Harbour House on Vancouver Island. Les Fougères of Chelsea, Que., also received gold.

Another Quebec restaurant, Les Jardins de Métis, located on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River, won the silver medal.

Bronze medals went to executive chef Roary MacPherson from the Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland and chef Mark Filatow of Waterfront Restaurant & Wine Bar in Kelowna, B.C.

Honourable mentions went to The Breadalbane Inn, Fergus, Ont.; Monkland Taverne, Montreal; Little Louis Oyster Bar, Moncton, N.B.; Raymond’s in St. John’s, N.L.; and Le Hatley Diningroom, Manoir Hovey, North Hatley, Que.

 This year’s medal winners will also take part in a first-ever Food Day Canada Chefs’ Forum on “The Future of Canadian Food: Opportunities and Challenges” tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ontario Veterinary College’s Lifetime Learning Centre, Room 1714.

 Known as “Canada’s food university,” U of G has been involved with Food Day Canada since the event began in 2003 to encourage people to buy, eat or prepare food grown, produced or raised in Canada.