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Chef Chanthy Yen
Photograph: Chef Chanthy Yen

One of Canada's best chefs receives a Michelin Bib Gourmand award two years in a row

Time Out Market Montréal’s tastemaker Chef Chanthy Yen is recognized with Michelin’s prestigious award for the second time.

Written by
Laura Osborne

Only a handful of Vancouver’s best restaurants impressed the Michelin judges again this year.

The Michelin Guide recently published its second annual ratings for Vancouver—one of two cities on its Canadian roster (when are you coming to Montreal, Michelin?)—and has recognized top Vancouver eatery Nightshade helmed by Chef Chanthy Yen for the second year in a row.

The plant-based menu designed by Time Out Market Montréal chef and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s former personal chef was recognized by the prestigious 2023 guide.

The 2023 Michelin Guide to Vancouver now includes 77 restaurants, which span 21 different types of cuisine.

Time Out Montreal spoke to Chef Chanthy Yen on the eve of the Michelin awards about what it felt like to win a Michelin Bib Gourmand, his grandmother and the exclusive dish he’s preparing for Time Out Market Montréal’s holiday menu (available December 1, 2023).

Chef Chanthy Yen
Photograph: Chef Chanthy Yen

RECOMMENDED: Justin Trudeau's personal chef Chanthy Yen opened a new kitchen at Time Out Market Montréal

How does it feel to be awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand two years in a row?

“One year ago, it was a complete surprise. It was the first year of the Michelin Guide revelation, it's only been in two cities in Canada—Toronto and then Vancouver—and I had no expectation. I was actually in Ottawa at that time for the Prime Minister when I was first sent an email about the Michelin Guide. In the back of my mind I thought it was spam because it was too good to be true. At first they were listing the recommended restaurants, and I'm not in the recommended restaurants so I was kind of like, okay, great. I was headed to the food bar at that point, little did I know that the next award was the Michelin Bib Gourmand and I saw Nightshade!”

Chanthy Yen, Time Out Market Montréal
Photograph: Brandon Beerwort

What was your reaction when you realized Nightshade had won a Bib Gourmand?

I yelled and then ran on stage as fast as I could! We were able to celebrate that win as a team, it was huge. Nightshade was the first vegan restaurant to be in the guide. One year later and I've been invited to cook for the Michelin reveal.”

How did that change things for you at Nightshade after the Michelin recognition last year?

Things did change because in Canada there isn't much exposure or understanding of the Michelin guide in general. It being the first year, it was a shock and surprise to everyone. But for tourism in Vancouver, it exploded for us. For local Canadians and Vancouverites, it added extra exposure and people were proud of us, cheering us on. Being part of the vegan community is so strong—being part of any community—and to be able to lead that community and to kind of fight for activism and promoting a greener world… that means a lot and so many different layers. Being invited again makes me believe that we're on the right path to change, whether it’s being a more sustainable work-life balance, a more sustainable way of cooking, looking at food from a different perspective or using less plastic. There's so many practices that can be put in place that could change the entirety of the restaurant and the hospitality industry, so I'm just so excited to be able to do that. 

Can you tell us a little bit about your exclusive holiday dish at Time Out Market Montréal? 

Khao Soi noodles is a dish from northern Thailand. My background is Cambodian, Thai and Lao—prominently Cambodian because I was raised in that specific language. The good thing about being mixed and having this reach is because growing up, my grandmother would explore food with me and because she is Thai and Lao I had access to these dishes that I thought were just all Cambodian. This dish was something that brought me back to my roots culturally, and food-wise it's just a comforting bowl of noodles with warm Christmas spices like cinnamon, allspice, star anise with a yellow curry base. You get the robust flavours of spice, sweetness, creaminess, astringency, bitterness, and herbaceousness to finish it off. It’s got a flash of colour and a hidden punch of acidity with the tamarind. For me, it's just a dish that hits all of the marks when it comes to comfort. After eating a bowl like this, you'll feel fully satiated and just be living in that warm bath of curry.

Chanthy Yen
Photograph: Chanthy Yen | Khao Soi noodles

Don't miss Time Out Market Montréal's holiday menu, available on December 1, 2023 until January 4, 2024. 

For a complete list of the restaurants, click here.

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