Vancouver’s second annual Michelin Award Ceremony was held on October 5th at the Fairmont Pacific Rim. The invitation only event was hosted by Mijune Pak. It was also live streamed on YouTube.
Second Year Jitters
In the days before there was a palpable sense of anticipation around the city, at least in its foodie community. Last year’s ceremony saw some disappointments and upsets as well as surprises. While there has been much discussion and debate since the initial awards, the Michelin acknowledgment has inarguably helped those restaurants that have been noted.
Michelin Guide awards are decided by anonymous inspectors. Their selections are informed by five criteria: Quality, Harmony of flavour, Mastery of technique, Expression of chef’s personality, and Consistency. Restaurants are inspected multiple times each year.
The individual awards were announced first. The Michelin Exceptional Cocktails Award went to Suyo’s Max Curzon-Price. The cocktail program at Suyo Modern Peruvian was co-created by Curzon-Price and Andrew Kong with a focus on storytelling. Their drinks are inspired, as their menu explains, by the landscapes of Peru “from the ancient Incan empire to the bustling metropolis of Lima.”
Suyo was among those awarded in a surprise announcement that Michelin made of new Recommended restaurants back in September. Suyo only celebrated their one year anniversary a month before in August. Their Main Street space is unassuming from the outside with a lush, plush interior full of plants. Chef and partner Ricardo Valverde offers a modern take on traditional Peruvian dishes.
The Michelin Sommelier Award was won by Kelcie Jones of Burdock and Co. It was exciting to see the award go to a woman in wine, especially one working at the only Michelin starred restaurant run by a female chef. Before Burdock, Jones was previously at Chambar and Elephant. She began this year being awarded Best Sommelier in BC by the BC Chapter of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers. Jones is also the co-owner of This is Wine School that teaches “Everyday wine classes for everyday people.”
Presented in partnership with Mercedes-Benz was the Michelin Young Chef Award. It was won by Warren Chow of Wildlight Kitchen + Bar. Wildlight is also new to the Recommended list. Chow was previously Executive Chef at Juniper as well as Bauhaus. Wildlight is a celebration of West Coast bounty and the rugged beauty of the Pacific North West. It is located near UBC campus in leləm̓ Village, and is the first restaurant of the Pattison Food Group.
The Newest Michelin Star Recipient
The Michelin Outstanding Service Award went to Yaletown’s Okeya Kyujiro. The dining experience at Okeya Kyujiro is guided by Chef Takuya Matsuda. The word ‘omakase’ literally means, ‘I leave it up to you.’ Chef Matsuda’s goal is to introduce Japanese culture to people though his food. The service at Okeya Kyujiro is expert, swift, and theatrical. Indeed it is described as being a “live, interactive experience.” Twenty courses of Edomae sushi are served over the span of 120 minutes. Dessert and a Japanese tea service are also included in that impressively short time. Okeya Kyujiro was distinguished with another honour. It became Vancouver’s ninth restaurant to receive a Michelin star, and the only new addition to the list of one star restaurants in the city.
In total, after the new additions announced in September, Vancouver has fifty-one Michelin Recommended restaurants. We also have seventeen Bib Gourmand restaurants. Bib Gourmand establishments are identified by Michelin as more affordable options where customers can get two courses plus a glass of wine or dessert for less than $60. Five new names were added to Michelin’s Bib Gourmand list for Vancouver.
Farmer’s Apprentice was bumped up from Michelin’s Recommended list to Bib Gourmand. This South Granville restaurant is run by Chef Alden Ong who features local produce. Karma Indian Bistro also graduated from the Recommended list. This Kitsilano restaurant mixes tradition with innovation. Another restaurant bumped up from Recommended is Motonobu Udon. This noodle spot is located on East Hastings near the PNE. Asian food was well represented amongst the new Bib Gourmand additions. South Cambie’s Seaport City Seafood serves up the best of contemporary Chinese food, and Sushi Hil on Main Street takes customers on a flavour journey.
Vancouver According to Michelin
Vancouver now has nine restaurants with one Michelin star. No one lost any stars, and no one gained a second star either. It remains to be seen what will happen next year but in the meantime diners can chose from a range of price points and try new spots or revisit beloved old ones that have the Michelin seal of approval.