The famous Michelin Guide, widely considered to be one of the highest authorities on fine dining around the world, is launching in Canada for the first time with a new Toronto guide.
Mayor John Tory announced on April 10 that the French company will publish a guide for Toronto, according to the Toronto Star. Tory was joined by celebrity Michelin-starred chefs Daniel Boulud and Toronto-raised MasterChef Canada judge Alvin Leung to make the announcement.
Canada has been a notable blind spot for the Michelin Guide over the years, with the country not included in the more than 30 nations which have a guidebook. The guidebooks rank restaurants with a three-star system based on subjective, anonymous reviews by the guide’s inspector. Those stars are considered among the highest honours a fine dining chef and/or restaurant can receive.
A Michelin North America press release adds that the inaugural edition of the Michelin Guide Toronto will be announced in fall 2022, with a selection of restaurants receiving honours. Michelin inspectors have begun anonymously visiting restaurants in Toronto and will continue for the next few months.
The selection will follow Michelin’s historical methodology, based on five universal criteria: quality products, the mastery of flavours, the mastery of cooking techniques, the personality of the chef in the cuisine, and consistency between each visit.
In addition, the Michelin Guide Toronto will offer a Bib Gourmand rating for restaurants that have great food at a good price, and some spots could be awarded the Michelin Green Star if they are “involved in sustainable gastronomy.”
“For the first time in its history, the Michelin Guide lands in Canada, and our inspectors are excited to experience the impressive culinary landscape of Toronto,” said Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guides.
“This first selection for Canada’s largest city, and our first in the country, will represent the local flavours, international inspiration, and distinct creativity that makes Toronto’s dining scene world-class.”Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guides
“This is an exciting moment for our city,” said Mayor John Tory. “This further bolsters our reputation as a world destination for food and cuisine. Our diverse city, along with the many renowned chefs who call Toronto home, have helped us get to this point and to be able to showcase all of the wonderful restaurants.”
NPD Group data found that in-person and online restaurant visits have increased 18 per cent year-over-year in the first quarter of 2022 over the previous year. However, full-service restaurants including fine dining have seen a slower recovery than takeout specialists, fast-casual, and other quick-service restaurants.
Tory and Toronto’s foodservice industry will no doubt hope that the Michelin Guide’s arrival in the city will help to further fuel a recovery from the painful and lasting effects of the pandemic on restaurants in Canada.
A 2018 study in the Stanford Economics Review found that, historically, a one-star Michelin rating at a restaurant has translated into a 15-per-cent price premium for the restaurant. A three-star review, meanwhile, led to an 80 per-cent premium.
The Michelin travel guides were first created in 1899 by the French tire company in an attempt to spark interest in travel. They have evolved into a prestigious honour for restaurants that is used as a yardstick by many fine dining purveyors., but have never been published in Canada.
Around the world, just 136 restaurants hold an elusive three-star rating.