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In the two weeks since Toronto’s first ever Michelin Star award ceremony, Alo, a contemporary French restaurant on Spadina, reports that they are booked for the month of October. Receiving a Michelin Star usually sparks an increase in demand, but there is an added pressure on these restaurants to maintain their quality of food, service, and the quality of the atmosphere, says Fredric Dimanche, director of the Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.
“It has an impact on gastronomic travellers, or culinary tourists. Some of them go to destinations because they follow the taste, or the desire to try something new,” said Dimanche. “People will go to a popular region, a popular city, popular country and they make it an objective to go make a reservation [if they can] at one of the Michelin star restaurants.”
“We are lucky to be busy every night,” said Shyanne Vautour, Alo general manager, “On the other side, I think we have seen more emails and requests for reservations [since receiving the star].”
The ceremony was held at Evergreen Brickworks, where the international director, Gwendal Pullenac held the special presentation. Alo was one amongst 13 restaurants awarded a star.
“Leading up to the award ceremony we had no idea what to expect. So, when that announcement came out we said let’s continue to do what we are doing and get recognized for who we are,” said Vautour.
Alo is owned by Patrick Kriss. He is the founder of Alo group, which is comprised of three contemporary restaurants downtown: Alo, Aloette, and Alobar Yorkville. Two of these restaurants received a Michelin star honour.
“When there was the announcement that Michelin was coming to Toronto it was definitely surprising but very exciting that Michelin was finally in Canada,” said Vautour. “On Tuesday night [September 13th] we were all here working but we knew what was happening and the award ceremony was starting soon…”
After finding out Michelin was coming to Toronto, Alo stuck to their plan, over the last seven years, said Gabi Gottlieb, communications, and marketing manager for Alo food group.
When Kriss came up with the idea of the tasting menu it wasn’t popular or trendy, at the time. He still went with his gut and followed through, executing it right, said Gottlieb.
“We stick with the classics. We use ingredients that are very high end but we don’t need to add a lot of fluff to our dishes. They work together to sell themselves. We also know what our customers like,” said Gottlieb. “Which keeps people coming back time and time again for our dishes.”
Andrea Charmaine, member of the foodie community, who reviews restaurants on Tik Tok and Instagram has visited Alo three times. “The moment you walk in, you notice the attentiveness of the staff,” said Charmaine. “They really explain the dishes well, they tell you the story, the history, and maybe even what got them to create that dish.”
Charmaine says that Alo has the best wine tasting menu. The tasting menus change with every season; therefore, the pairings change. This was recognized by the Michelin Guide as Alo’s sommelier, Christopher Sealy, was awarded best sommelier of the year.
Michelin stars will not only impact every restaurant on the list, but it will also impact the destination. “It will help every other restaurant in the city shine because the city is now on the map for culinary tourists,” said Dimanche. With a now elevated dining experience, Toronto has finally put itself on the map.
The Michelin Guides are a series of tourist guidebooks that were published by the French tire company Michelin in the 1900’s to help travellers in France explore the country and explore the roads. In 1926, Michelin began sending anonymous inspectors to evaluate restaurants. Now, it is one of the greatest honours in the culinary industry.
A team of 120 anonymous inspectors work in 23 different countries around the world, travelling three out of every four weeks. The restaurants listed in the Michelin Guide are visited once every 18 months. A Michelin star is a prestigious award to be given because they are so rare to receive. Tokyo, is the city with the most Michelin stars, with a grand total of 212.
Michelin stars became important for the industry for the restaurants that get them but also the ones that lose it. With high standards of excellence, it makes it difficult to receive a star. The value of the stars is because of its exclusiveness.
For a full list of restaurants that made the Michelin guide, visit here.