Michelin awards first stars to 13 Toronto restaurants

Chef Ryusuke Nakagawa from Toronto Japanese restaurant Aburi Hana posing with the Michelin man.
Chef Ryusuke Nakagawa (middle) from Toronto Japanese restaurant Aburi Hana was the first to be awarded with a Michelin star in Canada

Michelin has awarded 13 restaurants in Toronto with its coveted stars, for the first time in Canada. Around 350 people attended the in-person announcement on Tuesday.

Reaction to the selection has been mixed, with praise for the number of restaurants Michelin recognised in Canada’s largest city, but criticism for the lack of diversity among the star winners. In total, 74 restaurants across 27 cuisine types received a Michelin nod.

Most of the restaurants awarded stars are located in Toronto’s city centre and feature tasting menus. Among the one-star winners are Alo, a modern French restaurant that has consistently been ranked among the best restaurants in the world, and Don Alfonso 1890, once named the best Italian restaurant outside of Italy.

Twelve of the restaurants received one Michelin star, which means “very good in its category”.

One restaurant, Sushi Masaki Saito – won two Michelin stars, meaning it boasts “excellent cooking” that is “worth a detour”. Its eponymous chef has previously been awarded two Michelin stars for his sushi restaurant in Manhattan, but has since moved to Toronto.

Michelin also awarded 17 restaurants the Bib Gourmand award, which celebrates great food sold at a reasonable price. Others were recognised for their sommeliers, service and cocktail selections.

Among the Bib Gourmand winners are Grey Gardens, run by renowned Toronto restauranteur Jen Agg, and Indian Food Street Company, a small joint inspired by the old coffee shops found in Delhi and Mumbai.

The winners made history as the first to get a Michelin nod in Canada, a coveted honour that has roots to the tyre company’s founding in 1889, but has since become a symbol of success and notoriety globally for the culinary and hospitality industry.

As Canada’s largest and most multicultural city, food writers have often praised Toronto’s restaurants for offering both cultural and regional diversity in their dishes. It is also a city that boasts both a lively centre and suburban neighbourhoods, with locally and internationally acclaimed restaurants scattered all around.

Destination Toronto, the city’s tourism group that partnered with Michelin to bring the guide to the city, said they hope Michelin’s arrival will boost tourism as well as cultivate homegrown talent. Toronto Mayor John Tory, who attended Tuesday’s announcement, said the Michelin guide is “one more way for [Toronto] to put itself on the map”.

While Toronto has been selected as Canada’s first Michelin destination, the tyre company has announced a guide will soon follow in Vancouver.

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