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When the Forbes Travel Guide recently announced the winners of its coveted 2022 Star Awards, out of the grand total of nine Canadian restaurants that made the cut, an impressive majority of five were from Toronto: Café Boulud, Canoe, One Restaurant, TOCA and Scaramouche.
For those readers unfamiliar with Forbes Travel Guide (which, for the record, isn’t owned by Forbes the business magazine), a movie metaphor might be useful. In the universe of online travel rating systems, in which top-rated picks garner instant fame (and reservations), there’s the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards and then there’s the Forbes Travel Guide (FTG) Awards. The former is the equivalent of the People’s Choice Awards. The latter is the Oscars.
Forbes Travel Guide bills itself as the planet’s “only independent, global rating system for luxury hotels, restaurants and spas.” And indeed, its rating system is the antithesis of the subjective reviews that dominate print and digital media.
Each year, dozens of anonymous Forbes inspectors visit hundreds of buzz-worthy luxury restaurants around the world. They travel incognito, equipped with a checklist of 900 rigorous and objective standards that must be met. These exacting criteria range from the overall and obvious (the flawlessness of the food and service) to the minute yet crucial (the solidness of the ice cubes, the acoustics of the tables’ silencer pads).
While less prestigious than an exclusive 2 or 3-star rating from its storied French rival, the Michelin Guide, the awarding of 4 or 5 FTG stars is nonetheless quite a coup. Moreover, unlike Michelin, Forbes offers detailed explanations of why each chosen restaurant is worthy of its stars with headings devoted to food, design, and “Our Inspector’s Highlights.”
In terms of the Toronto honorees on Forbes’ 64th annual list, while Café Boulud and One Restaurant earned runner-up Recommended status. Canoe, Scaramouche and TOCA were awarded 4 stars, the “equivalent of attaining a gold Olympic medal.” The Toronto restaurants join a select group of 112 4-star and 67 Recommended restaurants around the world.