With the contents of the MICHELIN Guide Vancouver set to be revealed on Oct. 27, the city’s culinary community is abuzz with speculation over which restaurants will be the first in Western Canada to earn one or more stars.
And for good reason: Receiving even a single star has historically been very good for business, with the late Joël Robuchon, the most MICHELIN-Starred chef of all time, saying that one étoile yields about 20 percent more business, two 40 percent more, and three 100 percent more.
This seems to be ringing true for the 13 Toronto eateries that earned stars in theMICHELIN Guide Toronto, which launched on Sept 14. At Sushi Masaki Saito, for instance, the only Toronto restaurant to earn more than one star, a new reservation policy requires a $400-per-diner deposit on bookings that are sold out indefinitely.
Since the inaugural edition of the MICHELIN Guide Vancouver was announced on July 14, the venerable guidebook’s incognito inspectors have reportedly been visiting dozens of the city’s restaurants. Should any of them earn three stars, it would be an accomplishment of global proportions. Out of 20,000-plus listings spanning 39 countries, the 2021 MICHELIN Guides gave three stars to just 143 restaurants.
Rather than speculating based on our own experiences, we asked dozens of Vancouver’s top chefs to predict which local dining rooms will make the MICHELIN cut. Here’s how nine of them replied:
Lee Cooper, Chef and Owner, L’Abattoir
Prediction: Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar
“Alex Chen is one chef I admire. He is truly a world-class talent, and his team at Boulevard do a great job of executing his classy cuisine. Alex’s cooking is technically impressive, beautiful to look at, and of course delicious. I know there are several chefs around Vancouver who cook at a high level, and they should be proud of the work they do regardless of attaining stars or not.”
Jean-Christophe Poirier, Head Chef, St. Lawrence
“It is the most consistent restaurant experience in the city. The cooking of Lee Cooper is precise, elegant and flavourful. He uses only the best ingredients available in B.C., which makes the baked Pacific oysters with Burgundy truffle and whipped garlic butter one of the best I’ve ever tasted.”
Alex Kim, Culinary Director, Glowbal
Prediction: Kissa Tanto
“Every time I dine there, including a recent visit a month ago, the food and service are top-notch and very consistent. The ambience of the restaurant is always enjoyable. Chef and the team are very creative, with lots of the delicate flavours of Japan and the warmth of Italian cooking using locally sourced fresh ingredients. My favorite dishes are the Tonno Mantecato and the Tajarin Pasta. Both are super-simple but flavorful and fresh.”
Jefferson Alvarez, Culinary Consultant, Acquafarina
“From cocktails to service, everything is impeccable. Chef Hector Laguna creates unique and original dishes using local ingredients and implementing his Mexican heritage. My favourite dish is the duck and mole rojo, and my cocktail of choice is the Council of Trees: blended scotch, fino sherry, oak moss, alder and cherrywood smoked tea, cedar and birch water. Michelin has always been about food, but also about originality, and my bet is on Botanist to receive a star.”
Michael Varga, Chopped Champion and Masterchef Canada Finalist
Prediction: Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill & Enoteca
“The food, the quality, and the approach are top shelf. Chef Pino Posteraro’s creativity, consistency and execution of dishes is outstanding. Italian and Mediterranean food are my absolute favourites, especially a beautiful plate of pasta, and the pappardelle “al guanciale di vitello e porcini” is just stunning. Cioppino’s is a Yaletown icon for a reason!”
David Hawksworth, Owner, Hawksworth Restaurant
“While my money would be on L’Abattoir and St. Lawrence as obvious choices, I also think Elisa is a strong contender. It’s a very refined and modern steakhouse, Chef Andrew Richardson delivers consistency and great flavours in his dishes, the service is exceptional, the room is elegant and grand, and the wine list is deep and interesting.”
Alan Tam, Head Chef, Nightingale
Prediction: Published on Main
“Chef Gus Stieffenhofer-Brandson and his team are extremely talented. The food is fun, innovative, seasonal, and globally influenced. I love the room and the service is great.”
Roger Ma, Executive Chef, Boulevard
Prediction: Kissa Tanto
“An intimate and stylish room, combined with relaxed yet detail-oriented service, is the perfect setting for chef Joël Watanabe’s unique and delicious cuisine. Cocktails are equally inventive and thoughtful. With riffs on Italian classics using Japanese ingredients, everything really stays true to its theme.”
David Baarschers, Executive Chef, Fairmont Hotel Vancouver
“Now considered a destination in the heart of Gastown; the tasting menu (Gaoler’s Menu) with the wine pairing is a must, but if time is an issue I like to enjoy their cocktails, especially the Meat Hook, which is made with a bone marrow-infused whiskey. The baked Pacific oysters are also a favourite of mine, and a perfect way to start a night out. Chef Lee Cooper always comes up with some incredible dishes that not only tease the palate but create a sensory memory that could last a lifetime.”