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Column: Michelin is coming to Vancouver

Columnist Tony Kwan talks about the Michelin guide

Michelin has recently announced that sometime this fall, they will put out a guide to dining in Vancouver.

I would assume and hope that the guide will cover not only Vancouver but also the surrounding suburbs like Richmond.

What is the Michelin guide, and why is it important? 

The Michelin guide is published by the French tire company, Michelin. The first guide was published in 1900 and only covered France. Back then, there was no GPS or Google Maps, so to encourage car owners to drive around more (and therefore indirectly increase the demand for their tires), Michelin published a guide with maps showing hotels and gas stations. They later expanded their coverage to restaurants, and their anonymous food inspectors began awarding stars to restaurants in the 1930s. 

Theoretically, every restaurant can be listed in the guide, but only certain restaurants are ranked based on various criteria established by Michelin. 

The ranking system still maintained today is as follows:

1 star: High-quality cooking, worth a stop

2 stars: Excellent cooking, worth a detour!

3 stars: Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey!

Since 1955, the guide has also included “Bib Gourmand” restaurants, which offer good quality, good value cooking (Bibendum or Bib is the nickname of the Michelin Man logo used by Michelin). 

In 2020, Michelin started giving restaurants green stars for gastronomy and sustainability.

The Michelin guide mostly covered France until the 2000s, when Michelin started to expand its coverage to other countries and cities. Currently, Michelin publishes guides covering over 35 countries. Michelin has just announced that they will publish a guide to cover both Toronto and Vancouver later this year.

This is wonderful news for those of us living in the Greater Vancouver area, as this puts the region on the culinary map. Vancouver will automatically become even more of a destination for foodies, and the guide will also help our entire tourism industry. 

Having just returned from recent trips to New York and Hong Kong, which are both loaded with Michelin-star restaurants, I am not sure if any Vancouver restaurants will be awarded three stars. I think Vancouver would be lucky to be awarded two 2-star-Michelin restaurants. I would be hopeful that up to 12 restaurants will be awarded one star, and up to 30 restaurants will be awarded a Bib Gourmand designation. Just being listed in the guide will increase business for a restaurant, so I am hoping that many restaurants will be listed in the guide.

While this is exciting news, this is a call to action for local foodies. 

You should dine out more and post your reviews on social media of your favourite restaurants, so they get noticed. Please check out those restaurants you have been meaning to try now, as after the Michelin guide comes out, you will be competing for reservations with a worldwide culinary audience. That will only make reservations at top restaurants that much harder to obtain, and prices at these restaurants will most likely soar. 

So foodies, be forewarned that you only have a few more months to have these local gems to yourself! Happy eating! 

Tony Kwan is the Richmond News' new columnist. Lawyer by day, food and wine lover by night, Kwan is an epicurean who writes about wine, food and enjoying all that life has to offer.