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

By Toronto Life| Photography by George Pimentel Photography
What went down at Canada's first ever Michelin Guide award ceremony

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Toronto chefs on which restaurants they think will (or should) be granted Michelin-star status
Food & Drink

Toronto chefs on which restaurants they think will (or should) be granted Michelin-star status

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.

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

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

What went down at Canada's first ever Michelin Guide award ceremony
All of the Bib Gourmand recipients

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

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