In the delicious world of fine dining, we often come across the term Michelin Star. Ever wondered what this term really stands for? Chefs and restaurants praise themselves when they are rewarded with the prestigious stars, but what do they really glorify? A Michelin Star isn’t really about fancy designs and celebrity status, as even the little place around the corner could be awarded.
Let’s clear out this starry detail first. A Michelin Star is the Oscar for the restaurants and chefs of the world. Most chefs and restaurateurs in the world consider it a matter of prestige to become associated with a Michelin Star.
The Michelin Guides are a series of guidebooks published by the French company Michelin for more than a century. It offers the sacred Michelin Stars to a few chefs, restaurants and eateries across the world. Most of the bigger countries have the Michelin Red Guides, often also called ‘red book’.
From Tires to Taste Buds
The famous tire manufacturers, Andre Michelin and his brother Edouard, formed the Michelin Star system. Yes, we’re talking about the famous global tire company, Michelin. In the beginning of last century, the brothers initially started out by handing out free road tripping guidebooks that covered relevant information for motorists, including country maps and places to repair and change tires. They first started this in France. Subsequently, the guidebook was introduced for surrounding countries like Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy.
After the First World War, the brothers were adamant to increase the worth of their guidebooks. They also stopped any sort of third party advertisement in their guidebooks. This made their guidebooks more premium and content oriented for those times. They started charging for their guidebooks and added a food and restaurant section to it, which started gaining a lot of popularity then and ever since.
Hence, the famous Michelin Star ranking was introduced in 1936 for rating restaurants and eateries across the world:
- One star for a very good restaurant in its category.
- Two stars for a restaurant with excellent cooking and worth a detour.
- Three stars for outstanding cooking and worth a trip solely for the food.
How to Become a Michelin Star Restaurant?
These Michelin Star reviewers are extremely picky about giving away these stars. They do not look for the best of the best ambiance, table settings and cutlery or how posh the restaurant is. However, these days the red books do give a description on the interiors of a restaurant.
There are 4 main factors for restaurants to become Michelin Star restaurants –
- Quality of food
- Mastery of technique used for cooking
- Personality of the food
- Consistency of the food.
Apart from the basic three star rating, Michelin also gave a Bib Gourmand rating to restaurants with great food at moderate pricing since 1955. The term ‘Bib Gourmand’ is actually the nickname for Michelin’s tire company logo.
Which are the Michelin Star restaurants?
According to the latest ratings of Michelin Travel, there are only 6 restaurants with a 3 Michelin star rating, 9 with a 2 star rating and 58 restaurants with a 1 star rating in New York. That is one tough rating system, since there are around 40 000 restaurants in the city.
Some of the famous Michelin Star restaurants of the world are – Ledoyen in Paris, Louis XV in Monaco, Hotel de Ville in Switzerland, Schloss Berg in Germany, Mizai in Kyoto and Le Calandre in Italy. Mind you, this is just a short list to start with. The Michelin Star restaurants or Michelin Star chefs can also loose and gain more stars.
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Also, not all of the Michelin Star restaurants have the finest looking location or interiors. Sushi Saito in Tokyo is literally a restaurant created in between two parking decks with just 7 tables. But it supposedly serves the best sushi in the world and has 3 Michelin stars.
When the chefs’ stars align
Becoming a Michelin Star restaurant or a Michelin Star chef can be a make or break for the restaurant and the chef. Getting a Michelin star is not just a huge accolade, but also has drastic effects on the sales of a restaurant. If a restaurant or chef is stripped off its star, it can affect the restaurant greatly and easily account for a 50% loss in sales.
So do Chefs like Michelin Stars?
It is a never-ending debate on how reliable Michelin Stars are. Although they are authentic, they are also still traditional in the way they are given. A Michelin Star is often a life goal for many chefs across the world. But some chefs consider it a curse too. In 2014 the Michelin Star chef Frederick Dhooge from ‘t Huis van Lede in Belgium gave away his stars, as he wanted to be able to cook a simple fried chicken without being judged by anyone, saying it isn’t a star-worthy dish. Becoming a Michelin Star chef entails a grindstone of work and demands investment just to keep the star. After receiving the star, restaurants tend to invest more money in interiors and change menu prices, amongst other things.
Michelin Star Singapore
Singapore has fast become the culinary capital of the Southeast Asia. Quite a few Michelin star chefs with celebrity status have already opened their restaurants in Singapore. People often travel across the island to find the best food at the most beautiful location. With over 20,000 eateries for a population of over 5 million, it is proven that Singaporeans love variety and fine food!
Despite the fact that Singapore attracts Michelin Star chefs from across the world, there is still no Michelin Red Guide for Singapore. However, this surely will change in the future, as Singapore gradually joins the global food capitals, like New York, London, Paris, Kyoto, Tokyo and others. It is time to try out some of the best food at the finest restaurants around town then!