How the Michelin Guide works
The Parisian centuries-old rating system endorses gastronomy standouts, awarding anywhere from one to three stars to restaurants; one star recognizes spots deemed “very good” in their respective category, two stars are considered “excellent” cuisine and three stars signal exceptional cuisine that warrants travelling to the destination just for the food.
An anonymous panel of inspectors judge the restaurants’ merits based on considerations like flavour, product quality, and culinary technique but also consistency and whether the chef’s personality comes through in the dishes.
To give you a sense, three stars are rare; out of 16,120 restaurants on the global list, a mere 137 have achieved the three-star rating, with Tokyo boasting the most three-star restaurants at 12 (not surprisingly, Tokyo also has the most Michelin-starred restaurants in general, boasting 203, with Paris following at 118 and Kyoto at 108).
Toronto restaurants recognized
Recognizing “the diversity and the vibrancy of the local culinary scene,” Gwendal Poullennec, the guide’s international director, awarded two stars to a Toronto sushi restaurant run by a celebrated chef already recognized by the food guide in other States-side locales.
Sushi Masaki Saito and Chef Masaki Saito’s tradition-steeped sushi received the honours, while 12 others were awarded with one star. Four of these also specialize in Japanese cuisine (Aburi Hana, Kaiseki Yu-zen Hashimoto, Shoushin and Yukashi). Another four one-star ratings went to contemporary eateries Alo, Enigma Yorkville, Edulis and Frilu and another four went to Alobar Yorkville, Mexican restaurant Quetzal, and Italian restaurants Don Alfonso 1890 Toronto and Osteria Giulia.
Worth noting is that while a dinner can cost upwards of $680 per person at Sushi Masaki Saito and other fine dining establishments, Michelin also named 17 restaurants worthy of its Bib Gourmand designation – recognizing great quality spots that offer two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for less than $60.
- The Ace (Cuisine: Gastropub)
- Alma (Cuisine: Asian)
- Bar Raval (Cuisine: Spanish)
- Campechano (Cuisine: Mexican)
- Cherry St. Bar-B-Que (Cuisine: Barbecue)
- Chica’s Chicken (Cuisine: American)
- Enoteca Sociale (Cuisine: Italian)
- Fat Pasha (Cuisine: Middle Eastern)
- Favorites Thai (Cuisine: Thai)
- Fonda Balam (Cuisine: Mexican)
- Grey Gardens (Cuisine: Contemporary)
- Indian Street Food Company (Cuisine: Indian)
- La Bartola (Cuisine: Mexican)
- Puerto Bravo (Cuisine: Mexican)
- R&D (Cuisine: Fusion)
- SumiLicious Smoked Meat & Deli (Cuisine: Deli)
- Wynona (Cuisine: Italian)
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The history of the Michelin Guide
If the name Michelin looks familiar, you’re not wrong. The guide is named after the tire company and was first published in France in the early 1900s to encourage tire sales by offering recommendations to French motorists and travellers. Along with tips on where to change a tire, get gas, take shelter and more, the guide made recommendations on where to eat.
Michelin is now in Canada in part due to a multi-year funding deal with tourism boards to help promote and entice travel to destinations decimated by the pandemic and to support the local restaurant scene. However, Michelin’s selection process remains independent.
While we’re surprised that others like chef Nuit Regular’s Thai restaurant Pai didn’t get a Michelin shoutout, we can’t wait to see the Vancouver edition, set to come out later this year.