The famous Michelin Guide has finally landed on Canadian shores, and chefs across the nation are gearing up to have their eateries honored in the near future.
Toronto’s the first Canadian city that will be recognized with the famous stars.
This is amazing news on a number of fronts: for starters, no one ever thought this country would ever achieve such culinary greatness, even though Canada’s chefs and restaurants have always shone on a global scale.
That said — after years of writing about the country’s acclaimed food scene, I do believe Canada has been licking the proverbial chocolate-through-glass far too long, when it comes to being recognized for our culinary landscape. We’ve always been the bridesmaid, never the bride.
But no more.
During a recent press conference at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto, representatives from local and federal governments, in conjunction with the folks at Michelin and Destination Toronto, made the announcement of the iconic guide’s expansion into Canada to cheers and applause.
Michelin Guide is a more than 120-year-old institution and considered the definitive voice of global fine dining.
Anonymous inspectors visit restaurants to rank them with a three-star system based on multiple reviews. The Guide also bestows Bib Gourmand ratings on restaurants that offer great quality food at good prices, and they award the Michelin Green Star to restaurants involved in sustainable gastronomy.
Canada’s been champing at the bit.
In attendance were federal Tourism Minister Randy Boissonnault, Toronto Mayor John Tory and award-winning chefs Daniel Boulud and Alvin Leung, along with a slew of other famous chefs.
Tory was thrilled Toronto was the first to be chosen, but also excited for the rest of the country.
Those beyond Canada’s borders are certainly going to know what the country’s world-class dining scene is all about, noted Tory. And the timing couldn’t be better, with the reopening of the country post-pandemic.
“For the first time in its history, Michelin has landed in Canada, and our inspectors are excited to experience the impressive culinary landscape,” said Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guides.
When asked why it took Michelin so long to get into Canada, Poullennec said inspectors had already been in the country “well before the pandemic,” assessing the quality of the restaurants.
The country had been on Michelin’s radar for quite some time, he added, and the official announcement was initially going to be made in the spring of 2020.
Poullennec said he’s excited to see Michelin stars in Canada, but, when asked how many restaurants will be receiving the stars, he was coy and would only say “it’s still a work in progress as it’s a never-ending process.”
But come the fall, more than one restaurant will be noted with stars.
I’m of two minds about having Michelin in Canada.
On the one hand, finally. Although Canada is home to exceptional, award-winning chefs and restaurants, the industry has never truly received the recognition it deserved.
On the other hand, why do any of the eateries need stars?
I spoke with one restaurant owner who scoffed at the very idea of having a Michelin star behind their name. “Seriously? We’ve been doing this so well for so long, who needs this?”
Yet others I spoke with are excited at the prospect of having their establishment anonymously visited and rated. “It’s like winning the lottery!” said one local chef, who asked not to be identified.
I’m sure it’s going to bring in badly-needed tourism dollars, as well, which the industry — and the country as a whole — certainly needs.
Ultimately, I leave it to celebrity chef Michael Bonacini:
“I think this is one of the most important times in our lifetime,” he said at the conference. “For many different people who love the dining scene, this is as iconic as it’s going to get.”