Foodies have long been known for their multicultural flavors, and Toronto will now have a place on one of the most coveted culinary maps: the Michelin Guide.
Starting this fall for the first time, you’ll receive a selection of the city’s restaurants cutting inspectors with anywhere from one to three Michelin stars.
The Michelin Guides are a series of guide books published by the French company Michelin. Each year, the guide awards Michelin stars to restaurants that have culinary excellence.
Inspectors have already begun visiting various places in the city and will continue their work over the next few months in secret — keeping their identity strictly confidential with nameless reservations and paying for meals in full in order to treat them like any other customer, according to Michelin North America.
“This reinforces our reputation as a world-class food and beverage destination,” Toronto Mayor John Tory said in a press release.
“Our diverse city, along with the many celebrity chefs who call Toronto home, has helped us get to this point and be able to showcase all the great restaurants.”
‘Time will tell’ if the evidence represents Toronto’s diversity
The announcement, which was held at the luxury Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto, comes after two long years of uncertainty for restaurants strained by closures and restrictions throughout the pandemic. Torey alluded to those difficulties, encouraging Toronto residents to continue to “support and celebrate the Toronto restaurant revival” while the city awaits its list of Michelin-stamped restaurants.
Inspectors will base their decisions on what Michelin says are five global standards: quality of products, mastery of flavors, mastery of cooking techniques, personality of the chef in the kitchen and consistency between visits.
“Even the most casual of restaurants know what Michelin is and the prestige that comes with it,” said Caron Liu, Toronto Star food writer.
However, in past years, Michelin has come under criticism for the lack of diversity in its menus and for not rewarding restaurants that reflect the broader demographics of different regions, Liu says.
He says “time will tell” if that changes with Toronto’s Michelin Guide.
Asked about this criticism on Tuesday, Gwendal Pollinac, International Director of Guides Michelin, said the people who make up the guide around the world come from 20 nationalities.
“For the inspector, the important thing is to always have an open mind,” he said.
Why are we willing to pay $25 for a plate of handmade pasta and maybe only $10 for a plate of handmade pasta?– Ahn Hui
Ann Hui, national food reporter for The Globe and Mail and author Chop Sue Nation Another question that some may ask themselves is: “Why now?”
“For a number of years already Canada and Toronto specifically, definitely Vancouver, definitely Montreal — we’ve had world-class restaurants for a long time,” Hoy said.
During that time, she said, there were important conversations about how we value food, work, diversity in eating, and varying price expectations when it comes to dishes from certain cultures.
These questions include: “How much are we willing to pay for the foods of certain cultures? How much are we willing to pay for people’s labor? Why are we willing to pay $25 for a plate of handmade pasta and maybe $10 just for a plate of handmade pasta?”
Diversity is “what Toronto is all about,” said chef Alvin Leung, who grew up in Toronto and holds three Michelin stars.
“There are so many neighborhood restaurants that I’m sure Michelin will have a hard time looking for, but they will find because they always find the best.”
“It’s a really proud day for me,” Leung said in Tuesday’s announcement.
Polignac said the Michelin Guide’s entry to Toronto also marked a first for Canada.
“This first choice for Canada’s largest city, and our first in the country, will represent the local flavors, international inspiration and outstanding creativity that make Toronto’s dining scene world-class.”