Decoding the Michelin Guide: Stars, Green Star, Bib Gourmand, and the New Michelin Key

October 10, 2023 by Ben Liegey

The Michelin Guide is a revered institution in the gastronomical world. Originating in 1926, this guide serves as a beacon for food enthusiasts, leading them to some of the world’s best dining experiences, where dining and hospitality meet excellence and distinction. Whether you’re a food enthusiast, a hospitality leader or a globetrotter, understanding the Michelin rating system can be quite intriguing. With Michelin stars, Bib Gourmand, the Green Star and now the new Michelin Key for hotels, it’s a comprehensive guide to high-quality experiences. Let’s dive into what these distinctions mean.

Michelin Stars: The Apex of Culinary Achievement

Michelin Stars are considered the Oscars of the culinary world. A restaurant bestowed with these stars offers a dining experience that’s beyond exceptional. The stars are awarded based on the quality, technique, personality, and consistency of the food.

  • One Star: A restaurant with exceptional quality in its category, making it worth a stop.
  • Two Stars: A restaurant with excellent cuisine that merits a detour.
  • Three Stars: A restaurant with extraordinary cuisine that warrants a special journey.

In Vancouver, 9 restaurants have 1 Michelin Star at the date of the writing:

  • Chinese: iDen & QuanJuDe Beijing Duck House
  • Contemporary: AnnaLena, Burdock & Co, Barbara, Published on Main
  • Fusion: Kissa Tanto
  • Japanese: Masayoshi, Okeya Kyujiro
  • French: St Lawrence

Bib Gourmand: Exceptional Food at Moderate Prices

The Bib Gourmand award represents a different kind of excellence. Named after Bibendum – the company’s nickname and mascot – this category is dedicated to restaurants offering exceptionally good food at moderate prices.

In Europe, to be considered for Bib Gourmand, a restaurant must offer a full menu for a certain price or less. In Canada, restaurants must offer two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $50 or less.

The Michelin Guide describes restaurants with a Bib Gourmand as establishments offering “friendly establishments that serve good food.”

In Vancouver, 17 restaurants are Big Gourmand at the date of the writing:

  • Chinese: Seaport City Seafood, Little Bird Dim Sum + Craft Beer
  • Contemporary: Fable Kitchen, Farmer’s Apprentice, Oca Pasticio, Say Mercy!
  • Indian: Karma Indian Bistro, Vij’s
  • Italian: Fiorino Italian Street Food
  • Japanese: Sushi Hil, Motonobu Udon
  • Mexican: Chupito
  • Thai: Song (by Kin Kao)
  • Vegetarian: Nightshade
  • Vietnamese: Anh and Chi, Lunch Lady, Phnom Penh

Green Michelin Star

The Green Michelin Star was introduced in 2020 as an additional category in the Michelin Guide. It recognises eateries that demonstrate a commitment to sustainable gastronomy. These establishments are noted for their commitment to reducing food waste, sourcing ingredients ethically, and adopting environmentally friendly practices.

In Canada, there are only 2 Green Stars, both located in Toronto, Ontario:

  • 1 Michelin Star: Frilu: “Our no-till farm produces fruits and vegetables for Frilu throughout the seasons; all kitchen waste goes back to the farm for compost to enrich the soil. We also use local Canadian ingredients throughout the year buying from local markets and farmers.” — John-Vincent Troiano
  • 1 Big Gourmand: White Lily Diner “We live on our organic, no-till farm; produce from our farm and greenhouses supply our restaurant as well as more than 15 other establishments; we use our own eggs at the diner.” — Ben Denham

The Michelin Key: Quality Accommodations

In an effort to expand its scope beyond dining establishments, Michelin has launched a new distinction: the MICHELIN Key. It will be implemented from 2024 and is aimed at hotels and accommodations.

“The MICHELIN Key recognizes the most exceptional hotels throughout the world. It is also an acknowledgment of the teamwork of committed enthusiastic hospitality professionals,” says Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of the MICHELIN Guide.

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