Toronto’s foodies are in for a treat. On May 10, Michelin announced it is expanding into Canada and will start awarding its prestigious stars to restaurants in Toronto.
The official guide will be announced in the fall of 2022 and the anonymous inspectors have already begun visiting restaurants in Toronto. They will also bestow Bib Gourmand ratings on restaurants that offer good quality food at reasonable prices, and the Michelin Green Star to restaurants 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, in a statement. “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 makes Toronto’s dining scene world-class.”
The launch comes at an opportune time for the city’s food industry. Restaurants in Ontario are trying to recover from a grueling pandemic knockdown - one of the longest in North America where indoor dining was closed for at least 300 non-consecutive days during the pandemic. Add to that supply chain issues, labor shortages and record high inflation.
However, the entry of the Michelin Guide could potentially boost recovery for the industry. According to a 2019 Ernst & Young LLP study regarding the economic impact of the Michelin Guide on destinations, 71 per cent of frequent travelers would increase their spending if a Michelin Guide selection existed, while 57 per cent would extend their stay if a Michelin selection is offered. Whether the pandemic will effect those decisions remains to be seen.
Michelin is partnering with Destination Toronto on marketing and promotion activities for the guide, as well as with destination partners Destination Ontario and Destination Canada. The French-based company says the discovery process began in Toronto four years ago.
In 2019, when the guide introduced awards for the entire state of California, it was reported that the state’s tourism board, Visit California, paid US$600,000 to expand the guide.
"This is an exciting moment for our city as Toronto will become the first Michelin Guide destination in Canada,” said Toronto 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."
Toronto’s food scene is notably vibrant and eclectic. Its casual dining style is broadly more popular among residents than expensive tasting-menu dining experiences. Many chefs across the city have carved their identities in symbiotic fusions of cuisines and flavors, often exploring unexpected combinations. Take DaiLo for example, a popular brasserie with French-inspired Chinese fare and dim sum by Chef Nick Liu. Or Patois where chef Craig Wong oozes creativity and plays around with a mash-up of Asian soul food and Jamaican grub. Then there’s Rasta Pasta, an innovative street-food joint that unifies, you guessed it, original Jamaican flavors with Italian comfort food.