10 Things You Need to Know About a Michelin Star Restaurant
If you’re like me, I perk up when someone offers to buy dinner in a Michelin Star establishment. If you’re also like me, you will swoon over glossy images of food. Then you’ll wonder if you know all the 10 things you need to know about a Michelin Star restaurant?
#1 Who is Michelin?
If the adorable Michelin Man springs to mind, you’ve got it right.
Michelin is a French tire manufacturer based in Clermont-Ferrand in the Auvergne région of France. It is one of the four largest tire manufacturers in the world.
# 2 What is a Michelin Guide?
French entrepreneurs, Michelin brothers Ándre and Édouard started a tire company. The Michelin Guide was started in 1900. The brothers decided that a star rating guide for hotels and restaurants would compel drivers to travel more. Hence, the drivers would use up their tires and buy new Michelin tires.
The Michelin Red Guide (French: Guide Michelin) is a series of printed guidebooks published annually by the Michelin brothers.
This is the oldest series of printed guidebooks before the idea of the internet was even conceived.
It was a simple plan that started the trend of travelling for good food. If you’re thinking. Then the answer is a loud resounding YES.
Your great grand gramps probably got one of these books to check out the restaurants to eat on a road trip in those bygone years. And if you have one of these rare ancient guides, read right to the end of the story.
Good food alone was good enough reason for travelling even in the last century.
#3 What’s inside the Michelin Guide?
At the turn of the century, the Michelin brothers wanted to turn the novelty of a Sunday family drives to a viable long-distance travel.
Michelin began to give out guides cataloguing gasoline stations, the location of mechanics and hotels throughout France. According to Michelin, they went as far as possible to assist travellers.
As the number of travellers grew, so did the reputation of the tire company and their guidebook. At the height of its popularity in 1920, Michelin started to charge for the booklets.
Finally, the guide expanded to rate fine dining establishments that made it famous.
The Michelin three-star system was born.
#4 What is a Michelin Star?
This is a series of guidebooks refer to the awards accorded Michelin stars for excellence to a select few establishments.
A Michelin Star is one of the greatest honours a restaurant can receive.
#5 Losing a Michelin Star?
The acquisition or loss of a star can have dramatic effects on the success of a restaurant. In 2013, it was reported the British celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsay actually cried when his New York restaurant The London lost its prestigious two Michelin Stars.
Ramsay known for his “meanness” and literary tearing apart chefs and restaurants for serving below par food may not have seen this coming.
#6 How many Michelin Stars?
When a restaurant is awarded a Michelin Star, it is a sure sign for the owner/chef of achieving the highest level of extraordinary culinary merit.
According to the Guide, one star signifies “a very good restaurant”, two stars are “excellent cooking that is worth a detour”, and three stars mean “exceptional cuisine that is worth a special journey”.
#7 Who are the Michelin Inspectors?
Michelin “inspectors” are anonymous. All have an extensive background in the culinary arts. Many are former chefs. They must pass official Michelin Guide training in France before they are sent out to over 24 countries across four continents.
The inspectors must remain anonymous and are and barred from speaking to journalists.
Unlike food critics, the inspectors will often visit a restaurant multiple times unaccompanied before reaching a conclusion.
They eat quietly. They do not take notes while eating.
Is that a perfect job or not?
#8 Who is a Michelin Inspector?
In 2004, Former French inspector Pascal Remy’s tell-all book “L’Inspecteur se Met à Table” (“The Inspector Sits at the Table”) portrays the coveted job as lonely, underpaid and unglamorous.
If you want a copy of the book, may purchase it on Amazon.
#9 Is Michelin is a brand-building tool?
The Michelin Star grade restaurants on their quality.
It actually makes or breaks fine dining establishments around the world. From an image standpoint, Michelin is the ultimate, premium, high-quality brand.
Michelin Guide is the Bible of all dining guides.
Michelin Star is the Oscars for Fine Dining.
There is no Michelin Guide Malaysia, so the closest we get is
#10 Inaugural Michelin Guide Singapore
Two Michelin star meals can be savoured in Singapore for under S$10. Two hawker stalls received the inaugural one-star ratings in first Singapore Michelin Guide.
A bowl of Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle goes for S$5. This stall comes with the recommendation from Singapore foodie friends. I have taken the MRT there in 2014; alas it was the stall’s day off.
A plate of soy chicken rice at Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle costs as little as S$2.
In Singapore, there are many hawker stalls with queues about 10 persons long during lunch and dinner. If you have the time to queue, then you can have bragging rights to eating at a one-star rated establishment in Singapore.
You don’t have to mention that it wasn’t for fine dining.
While on the subject, the feature photo shows a set of three Michelin guides dating from 1900 to 1902 (Image: argent.boursier.com) In 2014, these books fetched a whopping €26,000 Euros. L’Argent & Vous Boursier reports the three guides (including) a 1900 edition in “near-mint condition”.