Long known to foodies for its tapestry of multicultural flavors, Toronto will now have its place on one of the most coveted culinary maps: the Michelin Guide.
Beginning for the first time this fall, a selection of restaurants across the city that make an inspectors cut will receive between one and three Michelin stars.
The Michelin guides are a series of guides published by the French company Michelin. Each year, the guide awards Michelin stars to restaurants that demonstrate culinary excellence.
The inspectors have already started visiting various locations around the city and will continue their work over the next few months in secret – meticulously maintaining their anonymity with anonymous reservations and paying for meals in full so that they are treated like anyone else. customer, according to Michelin North America.
“This further reinforces our reputation as a global food and cooking destination,” Toronto Mayor John Tory said in a press release.
“Our diverse city, along with the many renowned chefs who call Toronto home, has helped us get here and be able to showcase all the wonderful restaurants.”
‘Time will tell’ if guide represents Toronto’s diversity
The announcement, which took place at the luxurious Four Seasons hotel in Toronto, comes after two long years of uncertainty for restaurants that have been strained by closures and restrictions throughout the pandemic. Tory alluded to the difficulties, encouraging Toronto residents to continue to “support and celebrate Toronto’s restaurant renaissance” as the city awaits the list of Michelin-starred restaurants.
Inspectors will base their decisions on what Michelin calls five universal criteria: product quality, mastery of flavors, mastery of cooking techniques, personality of the chef in the kitchen and regularity between visits.
“Even the most casual restaurant knows what Michelin is and the prestige that comes with it,” said Karon Liu, food journalist at the Toronto Star.
However, in recent years Michelin has come under fire for its lack of diversity in its listings and for not rewarding restaurants that reflect the broader demographics of different regions, Liu says.
He says “time will tell” if that changes with the Michelin guide to Toronto.
Asked about these criticisms on Tuesday, Gwendal Poullennac, international director of the Michelin Guides, said that the people who make up the guide around the world come from 20 nationalities.
“For an inspector, what is important is to always be open-minded,” he said.
Why are we willing to pay $25 for a plate of handmade pasta and maybe only $10 for a plate of handmade noodles?-Ann Hui
Ann Hui, national food reporter for The Globe and Mail and author of Nation Chop Suey, says another question some may ask is, “Why now?”
“For a number of years now, Canada and Toronto in particular, definitely Vancouver, definitely Montreal — we’ve had world-class restaurants for a long time,” Hui said.
During that time, she says, there have been important conversations about how we value food, work, the diversity of meals, and the disparity in price expectations when it comes to dishes from certain cultures.
These questions include: “How much are we willing to pay for foods from certain cultures? How much are we willing to pay for people’s work? Why are we willing to pay $25 for a plate of handmade pasta and maybe only $10 for a plate of handmade noodles?”
Chef Alvin Leung, who grew up in Toronto and himself holds three Michelin stars, said diversity is “what Toronto is”.
“There are a lot of these neighborhood restaurants that I’m sure Michelin will have a hard time finding, but they will find them because they always find the best.”
“It’s a really proud day for me,” Leung said during Tuesday’s announcement.
The Michelin Guide’s foray into Toronto also marks a first for Canada, Poullennac said.
“This first selection for Canada’s largest city, and our first in the country, will represent the local flavors, international inspiration and distinct creativity that make Toronto’s culinary scene world-class.