What went down at Canada’s first ever Michelin Guide award ceremony

What went down at Canada’s first ever Michelin Guide award ceremony

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It’s official: Toronto is a first-class food city. Granted, we already knew that, but now it’s in writing, in a book that many consider the be-all and end-all of dining guides. Last night, Canada’s first ever Michelin Guide award ceremony was held at Evergreen Brick Works, and a dozen of our city’s kitchens were granted a coveted star. One restaurant was awarded two, and another 17 received a Bib Gourmand ranking, meaning they offer excellent food at affordable prices (unlike the majority of starred spots, which are pricey affairs). Here’s what went down at the celebratory shindig and which restaurants made it into the tire company’s travel guide.

But first, a breakdown of what the stars actually mean. One star: high-quality cooking, worth a stop. Two stars: excellent cooking, worth a detour. And three stars: exceptional cuisine, worth an entire trip.

The $500-a-head Yorkville omakase restaurant Sushi Masaki Saito, which opened to much fanfare in 2019, was the only Toronto kitchen to get two stars, making it the highest-ranked kitchen in the city. Michelin stars are nothing new for chef Saito—he’s already received them for the New York and Los Angeles locations of Sushi Ginza Onodera.

Chef Saito receiving his stars from Michelin’s international director, Gwendal Poullennec, and the mascot of the hour

One-star rankings were doled out to the following restaurants, all but two of which are in the city’s core:

Aburi Hana, a Yorkville kaiseki restaurant
Alo, Patrick Kriss’s already much-lauded tasting-menu restaurant
Alobar Yorkville, Alo’s slightly more casual sister restaurant
Don Alfonso 1890, the Italian restaurant atop the Westin Harbour Castle
Edulis, Michael Caballo and Tobey Nemeth’s Niagara Street restaurant
Enigma Yorkville, Yorkville’s splashy modern European restaurant
Frilu, chef John-Vincent Troiano’s fancy tasting-menu spot in Thornhill
Kaiseki Yu-zen Hashimoto, chef Masaki Hashimoto’s kaiseki restaurant at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre
Osteria Giulia, Rob Rossi’s swish Italian restaurant in Yorkville
Quetzal, a College Street Mexican spot
Shoushin, Jackie Lin’s Tokyo-style sushi bar
Yukashi, Daisuke Izutsu’s 20-seat sushi restaurant

The star recipients gather for a group photo op

And these are the Toronto kitchens that were given Bib Gourmand status, all but one of which is in the city’s core:

The Ace, a Roncesvalles favourite
Alma, chef Anna Chen’s Bloordale restaurant for modern Chinese dishes and natural wine
Bar Raval, a College Street tapas restaurant
Campechano, a Toronto taqueria known for its house-made tortillas 
Cherry St. Bar-B-Que, pitmaster Lawrence Lapianta’s Portlands smokehouse
Chica’s Chicken, a Junction Nashville chicken joint
Fat Pasha, one of Anthony Rose’s Annex restaurants serving Middle Eastern cuisine
Enoteca Sociale, a longtime Italian favourite
Favorites Thai BBQ, an Ossington hotspot
Fonda Balam, Kate Chomyshyn and Julio Guajardo’s good-times Mexican eatery
Grey Gardens, Jen Agg’s Kensington Market spot for small plates and natural wine
Indian Street Food Company, a Leaside restaurant with a menu inspired by India’s alfresco food vendors
La Bartola, a Little Italy Mexican restaurant
Puerto Bravo, a Gerrard East taqueria
R&D, chef Eric Chong’s fusion kitchen in Chinatown with an Alvin Leung connection
SumiLicious Smoked Meat & Deli, a Scarborough sandwich spot and the only Bib-awarded restaurant outside of the downtown core
Wynona, Jeff Bovis’s Gerrard East restaurant known for house-made pasta

All of the Bib Gourmand recipients

Finally, here are some more photos from the much-anticipated event:

Michelin Guide’s international director, Gwendal Poullennec
John Tory was in attendance
As was Michelin-star chef Alvin Leung
Two-star winner Masaki Saito celebrates
Chef Patrick Kriss took home a star for Alo and another for Alobar Yorkville
Alo’s Christopher Sealy won the award for best sommelier
Osteria Giulia chef Rob Rossi receives his star. The restaurant also won an award for outstanding cocktails